Thursday 27 July 2023

Expect more ministerial-nominees in coming days – Presidency

Chief of Staff to the President, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, has assured that another list of minister-nominees will be sent to the National Assembly “in coming days” to increase the number to suit constitutional requirement.

Gbajabiamila gave the hint while talking to journalists at the Presidential Villa, Abuja after submitting President Bola Tinubu’s list of 28 minister-nominees to the Senate, explaining that the process of selecting suitable nominees has been thorough and careful.

The Chief of Staff, who praised the list of nominees submitted as a perfect selection of technocrats and people with political acumen, also explained the reason why the President did not attach portfolios to the names submitted.

“First of all, I’m sure you all know that the government is not fully formed until a cabinet is in place and that process started a while ago, culminating in the delivery of ministerial nominees today. The President took his time, spent a lot of time going through, did a lot of due-diligence, going through the nominees one by one.

“As you know he had 60 days from time of inauguration, as stipulated in the Constitution. He has fulfilled that requirement of the Constitution by submitting 28 names today, as his letter stated, and was read on the floor of the Senate, the remainder names, not sure how many, probably about 12, maybe 13, will be forwarded to the Senate in the coming days.

“As far as the nominees themselves are concerned, and like I said, Mr. President took his time to sift through those names, he dissected those names with a fine-tooth comb and that’s what you’ve seen, each and every one, I believe, of the persons on that list, are worth being on that list. But I really hope that we haven’t missed anything that would have necessitated any name not being on that list, but we wait and see.

“It’s a good mix of both people with political acumen and technocrats. So this is a good balance and it’s needed, these are people who have keyed-in to the vision and mission of Mr. President. Like I said, it’s a good balance, needed to move the country forward, as Mr. President is eager to do and has already started doing,”he said.

Explaining why the President did not attach portfolios to the names of his nominees, Gbajabiamila said it will afford him (Tinubu) the opportunity to look at the characters of the nominees and see the ministry that fits most of them.

He explained that while it would have been the best idea to attach portfolio to the names, it may cause problems if the President changes his mind after they have been screened.

He further hinted that the President may separate portfolios or restructure the ministries in such a way that new ministries may emerge.

Asked why portfolios were not attached, he said “for me that would have been one way to go about it. It would have been a welcome development. As good as that sounds it straightjacket’s the President to pigeonhole one person in an office or the other.

“What happens then if you change your mind? Do you then bring the person back for screening again because the President is at liberty to change your mind?

“For instance, if I decide I want somebody as Minister of Labour, and then after setting the name, later on, I decide that, you know what, I didn’t know this about this person, this person would actually be better with another portfolio.

“And meanwhile, the senate has screened that person for that particular initial portfolio, what happens then? Do you now rescreen the person?

“So, a lot of these things have their merits and demerits, advantages and disadvantages.

“I like the idea of attaching portfolios, I actually do, because it makes it necessary for the Senate to know exactly what you’re asking and what you’re looking for.

“But for now, it’s been thought wise that we stick to the tradition of sending the names and then whilst the screening processes going on allowing the Mr. President and his team to to look at the portfolios and the characters and see how they fit.

“The first step that he has done is that these are people that can work wherever you put them, except this specialized fields like attorney general and what have you.

“But in the main in most of the portfolios, he believes most of them can fit in anywhere and what’s important is also the Mr. President intends to separate portfolios or restructure the ministries in such a way you might be hearing of new ministries that were not standalone ministries before. So the process continues,” he said.

Gbajabiamila assured in the next few weeks, the new ministers would hit the ground running, hinting that they would even begin work in some ways before their clearance and inauguration.

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