Screening of Would-be Ministers

Rarely has any person nominated for ministerial position failed the test of the Nigerian Senate. I can remember only one exception, some 12 years ago, who reportedly committed suicide thereafter. In a note the unfortunate nominee left behind, he said he was taking his life because he considered himself a failure in life. Otherwise, screening at the Senate was a matter of “bow and go”. Some had simple questions thrown at them.

Judging by the utterances of some members of the 8th Senate, the ministerial screening that begins this week promises to be different. I just hope there won’t be personal vendetta or something worse. It took the courage of Nasir el-Rufai and Adolphus Wabara for us to know that Ghana-must-go bags used to change hands before one could scale through ministerial screening. Under the current regime, Ghana-must-go has been banished, so the senators have no choice but to do their job.

Since portfolios have yet to be attached to the nominees, would the senators be able to ask relevant questions? What if questions related to agriculture are thrown to someone who will be health minister? I don’t think each nominee is expected to be a genius with full knowledge of solid minerals, education, works, information, ICT, defence and others.

One nominee that I have sympathy for is Chief Audu Ogbeh. He has already been “screened” in the blogosphere and pilloried on Facebook. His offence? He was first screened for a ministerial position 36 years ago when Dr Olusola Saraki was Senate majority leader; this week he will be screened again by the Senate led by Saraki’s son Bukola. I consider Ogbeh very competent for the job; however, he is paying for the sins of his generation. I’m a living witness: Early in 1978, then head of state Olusegun Obasanjo came to our school and told us we were the leaders of tomorrow. Almost 38 years later, when I’ve clocked 51, I don’t know what future is left for my generation.



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