BY BARR. PELUMI OLAJENGBESI
The Nigerian Senate has just announced the completion of the screening and confirmation of the Ministers Nominees of President Muhammadu Buhari, and Nigerians are made to wonder if the Senate is aware of its onus as an important body vested with constitutional powers to carry out this crucial assignment.
The entire screening process was a demonstration of disloyalty to the Nigerian People, promotion of nepotism in state affairs and a show of party loyalty as against the need to sieve off ministerial nominees who lack the requisite aptitude and are with questionable antecedents. Meanwhile, it is trite that one of the administrative functions of the legislature is to constantly put a check on the activities of the executive in fostering an ideal government devoid of administrative excesses, and it is the intention of the visionaries of the constitution that this process will commence from the appointment of credible ministers.
As provided by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, particularly Section 147(2) of the 1999 Constitution, it is the business of the legislative house to confirm the appointment of Ministerial nominees sent by the President. It is a common knowledge anywhere in the world that, part of the duties of the National Assembly, particularly the Senate, is the screening of ministerial nominees sent by the President to fill spaces in his cabinet.
Unfortunately, the screening exercise was disdainfully reduced to ‘take a bow and go’. Does it not sadden the heart that not less than half of the 43 were generously told to take a bow and go? Meanwhile, the only time the lawmakers deemed it fit to actually screen a nominee, took the posture of a grievance against the nominee or his sponsor while glossing over other key issues. As it is, the direct implication of this malady goes down to the citizenry whose hopes have again been dashed, losing interest in whatever the outcome of the governmental process is. The Senate has therefore failed the Nigerian people in such a very early moment if this administration.
Nigerians were expecting that the Senate would painstakingly carry out this important process by testing the all-round capacity of the nominees to take up the challenge of contributing to the development of the country. It is heartbreaking to see some of the nominees openly begging the Senate to allow them take a bow and go, instead of unveiling their plans when confirmed as ministers.
All of this put together aggravates the fear of the 9th National Assembly becoming a rubber stamp assembly as earlier posited by some thinkers. While it is understandable that there is a rule of the Senate that allows former legislators or members of the Senate to take a bow and go, I hold strongly that such rule mitigates the essence of the Ministerial Screenings.
As far as I am concerned this rule is inconsistent with the provision of the Constitution which provides for a process of Senate “Confirmation”.
Flowing from the above, it is my candid recommendation that the Senate set up a parameter or criteria for confirmation and rejection of presidential nominees in the future, so that Nigerians will see transparency and patriotism in its screening of presidential nominees rather than the ‘take a bow’ methodology adopted by the senate. The senate should know that the institution is responsible to Nigerians and be wary of actions that may cost them their legitimacy.
YOUTH INCLUSIVENESS IN GOVERNANCE
Similarly, on youths’ inclusiveness in government, it is a necessity that we as a nation catch up with the dynamics of the 21st century. There is no gain saying that global rise in knowledge, technology and social awareness has boosted the capacity of our youths in country.
However, their ability to harness these assets effectively to drive national transformation would depend on the leadership opportunities available to them. I still do not understand why youths were left out of the recent ministerial nominees list. While I know that being a “youth” in itself is not a qualification for leadership, it is in this context related to credible and competent young Nigerians within the required age. Is it not painful to see how young Nigerians excel outside Nigeria when they could have impacted same course into the Nigerian system if given the opportunity?
Drawing from an independent research by the British Council, by 2030; “Youths, not oil, will be Nigeria’s greatest asset”. It is so sad to realize that, the youth density is a minority in the present political demography in Nigeria while the aged generation lead as the majority.
The Nigerian youth have since our nation’s return to democratic rule in 1999 been kept at the fringes of leadership. Youths are merely seen as the representation of tomorrow’s leadership rather than the distinct social category of people who are educated, competent and prepared for the task of today’s leadership.
It is common knowledge that, democracy signifies the representation of people because it is also a game of numbers. Representation in a democracy is expected to mirror the demographic composition of all of its population.
It is needful to say that, not only are youths the demographic majority in Nigeria but also the distinct social stratum and as such, ought to be given rightful representation in the leadership of this nation just as gender has attained recognition as a distinct social category.
Most of the developed climes in the world today rely on the dynamic innovations occasioned by their youth populace especially in technology, governance and the military. It is upon the realization and actualization of this fact that we as a nation can boast of politics of ideas and pragmatism without putting old wine in new bottles.
God bless Nigeria.
Pelumi Olajengbesi Esq.
Public Interests Lawyer and the Converner, Coalition of Public Interests Lawyers and Advocates, COPA.