By Julius Toba-jegede
The Senate on Wednesday commenced the screening of the 43 ministerial nominees appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the list of the nominees was sent to the Senate on Wednesday in accordance with section 147 (2) of the 1999 Constitution.
President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan had announced that there would be two sessions for the exercise.
He said the morning session would commence by 10:00 a.m. daily and terminate at 1:00 p.m., while the second session would commence by 2:00 p.m. and end in the evening “depending on the mood of the Senate.”
Dr Uchechukwu Ogah, the nominee from Abia opened the floor by introducing himself to the lawmakers and requesting for questions.
Sen. Adamu Aliero (APC Kebbi) and Sen. George Sekibo (PDP Rivers) were the first to ask Ogah questions about the solutions to what they described as the slow economic growth and youth unemployment in the country.
Ogah, in his answer, identified building of critical infrastructure and agriculture as ways out of the current challenges.
He said: “We need to improve our critical infrastructure, that’s the only way we can create jobs.
“We do not need to also concentrate our industries in the urban areas; we need to create industries in the rural areas.
“We cannot put our economy purely on oil. Yes, agreed that oil is a cash cow but we can develop our agriculture.
“Nigeria has the capacity to feed the whole world. Nigeria economy is about N43 trillion and the private sector is expected to drive the nation’s economy.”
On deregulation, Ogah said the country needed a guided deregulation where everything is not dumped on the economy.
He also insisted that the current value of the naira was okay.
Meanwhile, Sen. Philip Aduda (PDP FCT) had raised concern about the non-inclusion of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in the ministerial list.
He was backed by Sen. Dino Melaye (PDP Kogi) who referred to Sections 297 and 299 of the 1999 Constitution which mandated that the FCT be treated like other 36 states of the federation.
Debate on Aduda’s point of order delayed the commencement of the ministerial screening till 11:09 a.m. when Lawan finally put the issue to rest.
The Senate Leader, Sen. Abdullahi Yahaya (APC Kebbi), thereafter, moved for the Senate to receive the nominees, and the motion was seconded by Minority Leader, Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP Abia).
NAN reports that the nominees would be screened based on the availability of their curriculum vitae to the lawmakers, as announced by the senate president. (NAN)