Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, on Friday, jocularly told ex-Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, that he would be biased if he asked the ministerial nominee any question during ministerial screening.
A two-term governor of Plateau, Lalong was the Director General of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council during the 2023 general elections.
Lalong was one of the nine former governors that made the 48-man ministerial list of President Bola Tinubu which was submitted to the red chamber for screening.
Appearing before the upper chamber on Friday, the ex-Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum applauded Akpabio as an “uncommon Senate President”.
Lalong also enthused that “a lot” of his former colleagues are in the 10th Senate.
He used the “opportunity” to thank the lawmakers for working with him to bring in the Tinubu government.
Responding, the Senate President described Lalong’s speech as a “valedictory (and) acceptance speech” despite that he has not been confirmed as a ministerial appointee.
Akpabio said, “Distinguished Chairman, when you were the chairman of the last campaign, I was actually the vice chairman of the last campaign. So, I will be biased if I ask you any question because I can attest to integrity, I can attest to your capacity.”
The Senate President, however, proceeded to ask Lalong a question that “somebody asked”. Akpabio asked the ex-Plateau governor on what he would do differently for people to sleep peacefully in Benue and in the Plateau where herders’ crisis and communal clashes have been ubiquitous for years. He urged the nominee to give a “generic answer” and take a bow.
In his response, Lalong stressed the need for advanced technology, training and retraining of security agents, as well as constitutional role for traditional rulers, amongst others as solutions to the security challenges in the North Central geopolitical zone. He said the “best way” to handle ethno-religious crises is dialogue.
AVM Napoleon Bali (rtd), representing Plateau South in the National Assembly subsequently endorsed Lalong on behalf of the Plateau caucus in the Senate.
Also, the Senate Minority Leader from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Simon Mwadkwon representing Plateau North, backed the nomination of Lalong.
Lalong, who lost his senatorial bid to PDP’s Bali in the February 25, 2023 poll, was thereafter told to take a bow.
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