Senator Bello Muhammed’s credentials were scrutinised on Monday during his Senate screening as a ministerial nominee with questions raised about his university admission on secondary school results that included no more than two credits.
Muhammed is one of President Bola Tinubu’s 28 initial appointees who had been scheduled for interrogations during a special plenary session in the Red Chamber.
One of the questions was posed to the nominee by Senator Allwell Onyesoh of Rivers East, who sought to know how Muhammed was able to advance academically, given his school leaving certificate.
“I’ve been looking for your school cert. I saw one. You sat for five subjects with two credits,” Onyesoh said
“I don’t know how; I want to imagine that you still have another to bring. If not, I would want you to explain how you got into university with that.”
In his response, Muhammed told the chamber he had other secondary school results that he “all passed” which he admittedly did not attach to his CV “because we are talking of secondary school certificate”.
“I want to remind the distinguished senator which I know he very much knows that with the qualification of secondary school certificate, as enshrined in the constitution, we can stand for an election up to the presidential election,” the nominee explained.
“So, I didn’t bother you with much certificates (sic). But I know those are the qualifications for that.”
At this point, Senate President Godswill Akpabio stepped in, noting the distinctions between contesting an election and being nominated to serve as a minister.
“You are saying that you chose what to give to the Senate. You chose the qualification to bring before the Senate because of the constitutional provision that a secondary school certificate is what is required to stand for election,” Akpabio said.
“You’re not coming to stand for election; you’re coming to be a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. So, which are the other certificates you concealed? Which are the other certificates you did not put in your CV?”
Muhammed then attempted to explain further, saying his first attempt at the secondary school certificate examination resulted in “two credit passes”.
He added that he had “sat for another examination and I have passed but I don’t want to attach another qualification because.”
The response prompted rowdiness in the chamber.
In an apparent bid to de-escalate the session, the Senate President closed out Muhammed’s screening with a warning to other nominees.
He noted that the lawmakers were keen on knowing something “in totality” about the subjects of exercise, “including the number of children they have” and “the number of houses” they had.
According to him, Nigerians have a right to know their ministers as does the international community.
“So, you don’t choose and pick,” he said.
Akpabio concluded by saying the Senate would allow Muhammed some more time to bring the other certificates “to circulate, but not necessarily appealing again before us.”