Former Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Tuesday, told the Senate that his seven-year-old grandson asked him for an explanation why he is called ‘liar Mohammed’ on social media.
Mr Mohammed, who is a minister-nominee for a second term, during screening at the Senate, said he didn’t take the name seriously because it is what is used to describe him on social media.
He called on the Senate to ignore the name ‘Liar Mohammed’, stressing that the name on his Curriculum Vitae is his correct name.
“Mr President, there is only one small issue, I want to draw your attention to my name in my CV, it’s about my name as it appears on my CV, it’s my correct name, which is Lai Mohammed.
“Please don’t believe what they say on social media, they call me all sorts of names there. I used to ignore it until one day when my 7-year old grandson called me and said grandpa, tell me the truth, why do they call you Liar Mohammed?
Former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, has said that the Nigerian Government needs to hold high-level engagement with South African authorities to tackle the spate of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians living in the country.
Mr Onyeama, a ministerial nominee, while responding to a question by the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, during screening at the senate on Monday, explained that a bi-national meeting between presidents of both countries has been set up and the issue should be addressed with political will.
“What I believe is the issue, is really one of communication and direct oversight of law enforcement agencies in South Africa. This seems to be the real problem for Nigerians in South Africa.
“We have set up a bi-national meeting at the level of Presidents, so it’s important that we organise very quickly the next meeting, so this matter can also be addressed so it becomes an issue addressed with political will and by the highest level of government of South Africa.”
He added that after consultation with members of the union of Nigerians living in South Africa, the trust deficit between them and the South African police remained an issue, which has made a cordial working relationship between both parties suffer.
“Members of the union told me that the problem they were having is that they know the criminal elements among the Nigerian community and they will like a situation where they can go to the law enforcement agencies to alert them of those criminals so that actions can be taken quickly, but because of the trust deficit between the Nigerians and the South Africa police, they are not able to work with the authorities.
“There has to be a hotline between myself if re-appointed, and the ministry of foreign affairs of South Africa. Once there is any sign of problems on any Nigerian, to get it immediately across to the highest level of government in South Africa to engage with our high commission to start addressing the issue.
“The higher echelon of the police in South Africa can engage directly with the Nigerian Union of South Africa and this is a framework I tried to create. To sign this MoU, we need high-level engagement with them.”
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked the Senate to show more credibility with its ministerial screening by sending the names of the nominees to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
According to the Party’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement, the screening exercise should enable the Senate to identify some nominees presented to it by President Muhammadu Buhari to include individuals, who are facing allegations of corruption, abuse of office and stealing of public funds hanging on their necks.
“The PDP notes that the nomination of persons with corruption badges to serve in the federal cabinet has overtly established the fact that President Buhari not only condones but also explicitly promotes corruption, which has escalated into a state art since he assumed office in 2015.
“This is particularly as President Buhari had asserted that he would only nominate persons he knows ‘personally’.
“It, therefore, speaks volumes that the persons Mr President “personally” knows and has nominated as ministers include such individuals that have been publicly indicted and known to be answering questions as accomplices in on-going corruption cases in various courts.”
The PDP also called on the Senate to identify some of the nominees who have failed to defend their corruption allegations pending in court.
The party urged the Senate to, “take a cursory look into the allegations of bribe-for-ministerial-slot, making the rounds in the public space, the PDP said the Senate must rise to the occasion and ensure that Nigerians are not totally let down.”
“The truth is, Nigeria is a federation and I am a federalist. There is a limit to what we can do on taxation in the federation. I wouldn’t have loved to go into this because it is going to be controversial.
“We have left the rich men in Nigeria without discharging their responsibility to the citizens particularly on taxation.
“So, I am going to pioneer privilege taxes for those who have huge resources or wealth from which Nigerians must tap. If I go into this, there might be some ill feelings in some quarters, so I wont go deep into that.
“I will recommend serious taxation for wealthy people in Nigeria.
“If that will now translate to lifting the burden on the state and the local government to reduce the penchant for taxes that make poor people give from their inadequate resources, of course, I will be satisfied.
“I am going to advocate a just taxation system,” he said.
Mr Aregbesola was the fourth ministerial nominee to be screened on Monday. Thirty one ministerial nominees, of the 43 sent by President Muhammadu Buhari, had been screened last week by the lawmakers.
The immediate past Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola on Monday said about 720 containers were recovered with abandoned transmission equipment when he resumed in office as Minister.
Fashola disclosed this on Monday during the ministerial screening by the Senate on Monday.
He said at the commencement of his administration, the focus was on completing what was inherited from the Goodluck Jonathan-led administration which led to the recovery.
“This led us to recovering about 720 containers belonging to the Federal Republic of Nigeria containing transmission equipment that had been left at the Nigerian port for almost a decade.
“Those equipment ultimately found their way to over 100 stations across the country and we had completed some of them by the time I left office,” he said.
Reeling out further achievements recorded while he served as Minister, Fashola added that power audit commenced in 37 federal universities. This according to him is aimed at lighting up the universities.
He said success was recorded in nine universities and Ndufe Alike University, in Ebonyi State will switch on next month.
“We also undertook the power audit of 37 federal universities in Nigeria with a plan to intervene and strategically deploy independent power to Nigeria’s federal universities as out contribution to education development.
“By the time I left, based on the limited resources we had, we had commenced nine as a first phase and all those nine are in various phases of implementation at the moment.
“I can say that from next month, Ndufe Alike University, in Ebonyi State will be the first to be commissioned next month.”
Fashola also noted that road networks of 14 Nigerian universities were built while he served as Minister.
According to him, the Federal Government is also, currently constructing houses in 34 states of the federation.
The Senate on Monday resumed ministerial screening with the immediate past Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola as the first nominee to be screened.
Thirty one ministerial nominees has so far been screened by the Senate leaving 12 others yet to be screened. The Senate commenced the screening on Wednesday, July 24 and the screening today, entered day four.
Ministerial nominees screened so far include…
Uchechukwu Ogah (Abia)
Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom)
George Akume (Benue)
Ogbonnaya Onu (Ebonyi)
Emeka. Nwajuaba (Imo)
Olorunnibe Mamora (Lagos)
Olamilekan Adegbite (Ogun)
Adamu. Adamu (Bauchi)
Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers)
Sharon Ikeazor (Anambra)
Tayo Alasoadura (Ondo)
Mustapha Shehuri (Borno)
Abubakar Aliyu (Yobe)
Bashir Magashi (Kano)
Ramatu Aliyu (Kogi)
Timipre Sylva (Bayelsa)
Zubairu Dada (Niger)
Chris Ngige (Anambra)
Abdullahi Hassan (Nasarawa)
Sunday Dare (Oyo)
Muhammad Bello (Adamawa)
Sadiya Farouq (Zamfara)
Zainab Ahmed (Kaduna)
Adeniyi Adebayo (Ekiti)
Abubakar Malami (Kebbi)
Hadi Sirika (Katsina)
Osagie Enahire (Edo)
Paullen Tallen (Plateau)
Festus Keyamo (Delta)
Ali Isa Pantami (Gombe)
Maigarai Dingyadi (Sokoto)
Others yet to be screened include Babatunde Fashola, (Lagos State), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Gbemi Saraki (Kwara), Ambassador Maryam Katagun (Bauchi), Goddy Jedy- Agba (Cross River), Suleiman Adamu ( Jigawa), Clement Agba (Edo), Muhammad Mahmoud (Kaduna), Geoffrey Onyeama (Enugu), Lai Mohammed (Kwara), Sabo Nanono (Kano) and Saleh Mamman (Taraba).
Babatunde Fashola who is the immediate past Minister for Power, Works and Housing during his screening answered questions on power generation in Nigeria, infrastructure among others.
While reading his biography, he listed major achievements during his first tenure in office. He said there was no state of the Federation where a Federal project was not executed.
Mohammed Mahmood from Kaduna State was asked to bow and go after reading his biography to the Senate. This was after Senate Minority leader, Eyinnaya Abaribe remided the House that people with legislative background will enjoy the privilege to bow and go.
Mahmood is a former minority leader in Kaduna State House of Assembly. He served for three tenure.
Senator Gbemi Saraki is a former member of the House of Representatives. She also represented Kwara central Senatorial district under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party in the year 2003.
She was also asked to bow and go after noting that she does not have much to add to her CV which is already with many of the lawmakers. She added that she also knows many of the lawmakers personally.
The immediate former governor of Osun State before reading his biography said a short prayer in Arabic. He said the prayer simply means “all praises and adoration is due to Allah.”
He said he brings with him 39 years of post qualification experience “and a huge dose of political orientation.”
The Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial district, Dino Melaye, has faulted the ongoing ministerial screening process.
According to him, it is more of an adoption process than a screening.
Melaye made the comments during an interview on Channels TV’s Sunday Politics.
He also faulted the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari did not submit the portfolios of the ministers along with their names for the screening exercise.
According to him, submitting the names of the ministers with their portfolios would have given the Senate a clear idea of their areas of competence of the nominees, which would in turn help them (the Senate) to ask questions within the jurisdiction where they are expected to serve.
He believes that they are currently “shooting from the dark” as the President did not yield to their request.
“The President did not yield to the request of some of us from the National Assembly to submit the names of his ministers with their portfolios so we are actually shooting from the dark,” he said.
“It would be better if the president was submitting the names of the ministers with their portfolios so that we know their area of competence and we can ask them questions within the jurisdiction where they are going to serve.
“But if a man is going to be minister of Labour and Productivity and you are asking him questions that have to do with health or law reforms, then automatically, that exercise is a beautiful nonsense”.
President Muhammadu Buhari last Tuesday sent the 43-man list of ministerial nominees to the Senate.
The development came 55 days after he was inaugurated into office and so far, over 30 nominees have been screened.
The immediate past Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has explained why some individuals remain in custody despite being granted bail by competent courts of jurisdiction.
During his ministerial screening at the floor of the Senate on Friday, Malami said the office of the AGF has the responsibility to always protect the interest of the public over that of individuals.
“The office of the Attorney General is meant to protect the public interest and where the individual interest conflicts with the public interest, the interest of 180 million Nigerians that are interested in having the country integrated must naturally prevail.
“I think that position has been very well stated by the apex court in the case of Asari Dokubo VS the Federal Republic of Nigeria that when an individual’s interest conflicts with public interest, the public interest will naturally prevail,” he said while responding to the question asked by Senate Minority Leader, Eyinnaya Abaribe, of why some persons remain in custody despite being granted bail.
A section of the Senate, however, did not agree with his response, but Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, in his defence said the former AGF had answered the questions “satisfactorily”.
He also stated that contrary to the Senate’s agreement to screen each individual for about an hour, Malami had been screened for over an hour and should, therefore, be allowed to “take a bow”.
Meanwhile, Mr Malami also outlined some of the successes recorded during his time in office.
Some of them included a 159 per cent increase in recoveries, discovery of 230,000 ghost workers, enforcement of the BVN, Nigeria’s joining of the International Open Government Initiative and the establishment of the Whistle Blower Policy.
He said if returned as a minister he will ensure better collaboration between the arms of government and a commitment to public interest.
Hadi Sirika was the next ministerial nominee to be screened.
Others also expected to be screened today include Festus Keyamo, Geoffrey Onyeama, Lai Mohammed, Raji Fashola and Paullen Tallen.
“What we have done since yesterday was to screen, nobody has been confirmed. They will submit their credentials like every other person.
“After listening to them, the distinguished Senators also go back to study those credentials, the essence of this is just for us to establish the essence that they are who they claim to be in their documentation,” he said.
Senator Bamidele added that it is important to make this clarification so that members of the public will understand that, “the question we would have been asking them to clarify certain things are things that we already know.”
He added that the Nigerian Constitution is very clear concerning this tradition.
“The constitution of Nigeria is very clear as to qualification to appointment as a minister, you must be qualified to serve as a member of the House of Representatives and all of us are aware of the qualification.
“So, if people had been through this and has been able to serve in the National Assembly, it is taken for granted. However, that does not prevent the Senate from scrutinizing the documents that they had submitted like the document submitted by every other nominee.”
The Senate President Lawan in response supported Senator Bamidele.
He said this remains the position of the Senate, to allow former legislators to take a bow and go because it is the tradition.
“We are not covering anyone by so doing. We are still going to scrutinize the submissions by those nominees. And if there is any submission that disqualifies a nominee, the fact that the nominee passed thru the national Assembly does not protect that nominee from being disqualified,” the Senate President said.
Follow the Live Updates on the ministerial screening here
The screening of ministerial nominees by the Nigeria Senate has entered into Day two.
Senate President Ahmed Lawan commenced the screening by calling the first nominee to be screened today to the podium. He is Senator Tayo Alasoadura from Ondo State.
Senator Ope Bamidele, however, raised a point of order stressing that Alasoadura who is a Former Senator for Ondo Central District should not be exempted from enjoying the privilege of take a bow and go.
Bamidele said members of the public must take note that former legislators are entitled to this privilege.
Mustafa Baba Shehuri
The next nominee screened is Mustafa Baba Shehuri, the immediate past Minister of State for works. He was asked to take a bow and go after a few comments were made concerning him by some lawmakers.
Abubakar Aliyu, the immediate past deputy governor of Yobe State also took a bow and left after giving a little biography of himself.
Despite not being a former lawmaker, he enjoyed the privilege to take a bow and leave without being questioned.
This was after the Senate President pointed out that he is a competent nominee and should be allowed to take a bow and go.
Major General Bashir Salihi Magashi
Major General Bashir Salihi Magashi from Kano State was questioned by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege to tell the House what he will do differently if he finds himself to serve in the capacity of Defence Minister.
He was also asked how he will tackle the challenge of banditry and insecurity if he finds himself in the position of Defence Minister.
In response he told the House that if he is confirmed as Minster and he finds himself in the position of Defence Minister, he will ensure that rules are obeyed, procedures are followed and things are done in an appropriate manner.
Former Bayelsa State Governor, Timipre Sylva told the House about his exploits as a former governor and that he initiated the amnesty programme.
He was also asked to take a bow and go after the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe said Sylva should be made to enjoy the privilege as a former governor and former member of Bayelsa House of Assembly.
Ramatu Tijani from Kogi State made a brief presentation telling the House about herself. She also spoke concerning the less privileged and that of the girl child. She promised not to let them down the womenfolk and the whole House generally if confirmed as Minister.
She was also asked to bow and go after the Minority Leader, Abaribe said she should be allowed to go because the House is gender-sensitive and supportive of women.
The next nominee is the former governor of Ekiti State, Niyi Adebayo. He was also asked to bow and go after reading his biography to the House. Some of the lawmakers in their remarks described Adebayo as reliable and competent.
Ambassador Zubair Dada from Niger State answered a question on how the NOA can be repositioned to make it a more effective agency. According to him, members of NOA staff needs to be given the motivation they need to make it a more effective agency.
He added that the activities of NAMSA need to be resuscitated so they can reach out to those at the grassroots.
Senator Chris Ngige from Anambra State briefly addressed the House. He said he didn’t have much to say but to express gratitude to the House for the accepting him to come back and be screened as a minister once again.
He also appreciated the House for passing the Minimum Wage Bill so that the lowest Nigerian worker will earn N30,000. He was later asked to bow and go.
Abdullahi Hassan from Nasarawa State in his address said public service is about sacrifice.
Senator Abdullahi Adamu while contributing to the discussion supported Hassan’s nomination describing him as the youngest ministerial nominee from the zone. he also described him as a competent and experienced candidate.
The next nominee is Sunday Dare from Oyo State. At the moment, he is the Executive Commissioner (Stakeholder Management) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). In his address, he thanked the Senate Committee for screening him for the position in 2016.
Reacting to how he would curb kidnapping using sim card should he be assigned the Minister of Communications, Dare noted that arresting the abduction menace requires collaborative efforts.
According to Dare, his ministry in collaboration with the NCC will fight kidnapping by tracking phone calls made, alongside the Sim Registration Database.
Mohammed Bello, a 60-year-old ministerial nominee from Adamawa State, is a Business Administration graduate from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He is the immediate past Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Shortly after his introduction, the Senator representing Adamawa North, Senator Ishaku Abbo, moved the motion for Bello to ‘take a bow and go.’ The Senate President, Ahmed Lawan thereafter adopted the motion and the nominee was asked to take a bow and go.
There was mild jubilation in the Senate when Sadiya Farouq, the Zamfara State ministerial nominee, in her opening remark said her political career started in the Fourth Senate with her office ‘upstairs.’
Having listened keenly, the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan called on the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe to speak on the behalf of the lawmakers.
In a comic show, Abaribe who represents Abia Central asked Farouq to take a bow and go, having begun her career in the National Assembly.
The Senate on Wednesday decided not to quiz the ministerial nominee from Benue State, George Akume during the screening of nominees.
Instead, Akume, who became a Senator in 2007 and served three terms before losing his third re-election bid this year, was simply asked to take a bow and go.
Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, said it is a tradition for the National Assembly to simple ask nominees who served in the federal parliament the privilege to take a bow.
Although he noted that some people do not agree with the tradition, he insisted that it must continue.
“Let me also remind us that it is a tradition here to give this privilege, this concession to senators who served in this chamber or in the House of Representatives or indeed the states Houses of Assembly,” the Senate President said.
“This tradition must continue despite the fact that some people do not understand it and we need to educate them.”
The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, had earlier stressed the need for the tradition to be maintained and urged the Senate to call on Akume to take a bow and go.
He said, “I rose for only one purpose to ensure that tradition of that convention be respected in perpetuity so that no question here other than ‘take a bow and go’ propagated by a few of our colleagues be maintained.
“I rise to support that he should be asked to take a bow and go given his length of service in this chamber.”
In calling on Senator Akume to take a bow, Lawan urged him to sustain the legacies by working hard to deliver and also promote the relationship between the executive and legislative arms of government.
“We expect the legislature and the executive to work together. A relationship bears on mutual respect, consultation, and cooperation. The nominee, a gentleman to the core.
“We expect that when you eventually become a minister, you will lead the vanguard for those who passed through this National Assembly to create and sustain a decent operational and respectable relationship between the two arms of government.
“We are in a haste to deliver but it takes the two arms to deliver. You can take a bow,” he said.
The first nominee to be screened, Uchechukwu Ogah (Abia State), was grilled for nearly one hour with questions about the country’s oil and financial sectors, among others.