While speaking during an interview on Channels TV on Sunday, July 28, 2019, Melaye said the practice of not attaching portfolios makes it hard for lawmakers to be deliberate about how they question nominees, a process he described as “beautiful nonsense”.
President Muhammadu Buhari sent a list of 43 ministerial nominees to the Senate last week, but lawmakers have been widely criticised for the way many of the nominees have been screened.
Melaye said Buhari’s failure to yield to the request of some lawmakers to attach portfolios to his nominees forced them to shoot from the dark during the screening exercise.
He said, “It’ll be better if the president is submitting the names of his ministers with portfolios so that we know their area of competence and can ask them questions within the jurisdictions where they’re going to serve.
“But if a man is going to be the Minister of Labour and Productivity and you’re asking him questions that have to do with health or law reforms, then automatically, that exercise is a beautiful nonsense.
“So, I want to advise and insist that for us to have quality screenings, presidents should submit the names of ministers with portfolios. Then we can now properly screen them.”
Melaye further noted that an advantage of submitting the nominees list is that it’ll save lawmakers time in screening them as they can be screened by relevant committees instead of the entire Senate as currently practiced.
“And my advise to the National Assembly, is that we should screen these ministers in committees so that this will not delay other activities of plenary.
“If their names were submitted with portfolios, it’s just to refer these ministers to committees and the committees will now do due diligence to carry out proper screening and use proper methodology and approach to find out if any one of them is competent for the office for which the president has suggested his nomination,” he said.
The current screening exercise, which commenced last week, has angered a lot of Nigerians, particularly the “Take a bow and go” practice, a long-standing tradition of not questioning nominees who have a legislative background.
The female nominees were also given a free pass due to the Senate’s “gender-sensitive” nature, while some other nominees were also not properly questioned due to their previous political standing and ‘loyalty’.
Melaye described the current process as “cumbersome” and “time-consuming”, noting that it’s not fruitful.