President Buhari submitted a list of 43 nominees to the Senate on Tuesday, July 23, 2019.
During the commencement of the screening exercise on Wednesday, Uchechukwu Ogah, the first to take questions from lawmakers, was grilled on the state of the nation’s oil sector, diversification of the economy and the nation’s fiscal policies.
When quizzed on his achievements as Minister of Science and Technology during Buhari’s first term, Ogbonnaya Onu, who has been re-appointed, said he was able to make the nation’s economy more innovation-driven.
“This became very necessary and actually something that should have happened at independence and we must thank President Muhammadu Buhari for his interest and commitment to making sure that this happens,” he said.
He also said President Buhari’s full support for an innovation-driven economy will make Nigeria as advanced as China “in the next 30 to 50 years”.
Olamilekan Adegbite, a former Ogun State commissioner, was also quizzed by senators on security, housing deficits, corruption, and issues surrounding budget presentations.
Adamu Adamu, who was Minister of Education last term, was also questioned on Nigeria’s millions of out-of-school children, economic policies to fund education, and industrial strike actions that routinely cripple academic activities.
“There’s a funding plan right now on the table of the next Minister of Education. If it is adopted, I believe there’ll be no strikes in Nigeria again,” he said.
Nominees who have previously served in the upper and lower legislative chambers of the National Assembly as well as in a State House of Assembly were not questioned by senators, as is tradition, and were simply asked to ‘take a bow’ and leave after they were introduced.
Nominees who enjoyed this privilege are Rotimi Amaechi, a former Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly; George Akume, Godswill Akpabio, and Adeleke Mamora, all former senators; and Emeka Nwajiuba who’s currently a member of the House of Representatives.
Despite not being questioned, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan (Yobe North – APC); Majority Leader, Abdullahi Yahaya (Kebbi North – APC); and Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe (Abia South – PDP) all advised the nominees to serve the interest of Nigerians when they’re inaugurated as ministers.
The lawmakers also unanimously agreed to not question Sharon Ikeazu, a female nominee, “in the spirit of gender sensitivity”, and she was also allowed to ‘take a bow’ just like the former legislators. This brought an end to the exercise which took almost seven hours.
The screening of other nominees will continue on Thursday, July 25.