Daukoru, Ojo, Tapgun, 9 others now ministers

  • Friday, July 08, 2005 - By Emmanuel Aziken
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*Senate confirms them, Gani wants Ojo out

ABUJA —THE Senate, yesterday, confirmed all 12 ministerial nominees forwarded to it after a marathon session that saw two serving presidential aides, Mrs. Obiageli Ezekwesili and Dr. Edmund Daukoru, being forced to defend the administration’s actions in their present offices.

A move to stop the confirmation of a former personal physician to Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Dr. Kingsley Kolapo Akinroye from Osun State, was thwarted after majority of Senators kicked against it. They alleged that the absence of a security report on the nominee as reportedly canvassed during the closed door session was not enough as he had been sufficiently scrutinised by the Senators.

Immediate past President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Bayo Ojo, was equally confirmed but not without misgivings by some Senators ab2out the propriety of his resigning from the leadership of the NBA on the day his nomination was made to the Senate.

Indeed, Lagos lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), deplored Chief Ojo’s nomination, describing it as a violation of the oath he (Ojo) swore to "uphold, sustain and defend" at his swearing-in as NBA president.

The 12 confirmed yesterday in the order of their screening were:

*Mrs. Helen U. Esuene,

Akwa Ibom State

*Mrs. Obiageli K.

Ezekwesili, Anambra State

*Mrs. Maryam Ciroma,

Borno State

*Halima Tayo Alao Kwara,

State

*Dr. Joseph Odidi Itotoh,

Edo State

*Hon. Ahmed Abdulhamid,

Jigawa State

*Chief Bayo Ojo, Kogi State

*Dr. Rahman Olusegun

Mimiko, Ondo State

*Dr. Kingsley Kolapo

Akinroye, Osun State

*Sir Fidelis Tapgun,

Plateau State

*Dr. Edmund M. Daukoru,

Bayelsa State

*Mallam Yahaya

Abdulkarim, Zamfara State.

The screening conducted at the Committee of the whole Senate under the chairmanship of Senate President, Chief Ken Nnamani, saw the nominees grilled on issues ranging from their previous working experiences, general knowledge and on their marital affiliations.

Hajia Ciroma who said she had been running two family business concerns after she left the civil service in 1985 admitted in the course of her interrogation that she was the wife of Mallam Adamu Ciroma, erstwhile Finance Minister and Chairman of the Obasanjo-Atiku Campaign Organisation. She put up a humble and quiet performance.

Mrs. Esuene, wife of the first military Governor of the South Eastern State, the late Brig-Gen. Jacob Esuene, put up a shiny performance. Mrs. Esuene, a delegate to the National Political Reform Conference, was tasked on her readiness to walk out of the federal cabinet should a situation incompatible to her arise as it did with the South-South delegation at the conference. In response, Mrs. Esuene said she was a believer in authority, affirming she would never walk out on the Federal Executive Council.

Mrs. Ezekwesili, currently Senior Special Assistant to the President on Budget Monitoring, was tasked on her regard for the National Assembly and the benefits of the due process unit which she has headed since inception. For nearly one and a half hours, Mrs. Ezekwesili expressed herself and at one point had to be reminded by Senator Nnamani that she was not in a lecture hall.

Chief Ojo, Dr. Daukoru and Dr. Akinroye were the other three nominees that faced serious scrutiny from the Senators. Chief Ojo was tasked on his alleged past indifference to the Senate and the propriety of his leaving his position as the NBA President to become a minister against the provisions of the NBA Constitution.

In response, he said he resigned his position at the NBA last week and went on to affirm that the nomination was a call to higher service, a call he, nevertheless, said he was not desperate for.

Dr. Daukoru, current Special Adviser to the President on Petroleum Affairs, was tasked on allegations of inefficiency and corruption in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). He agreed that if the inefficiency in the refineries was removed and fuel wholly refined in the country it was possible to reduce fuel per liter in the country by N5.

Gani faults Ojo's nomination

Meanwhile, Chief Fawehinmi in a statement on Chief Ojo’s nomination said he (Fawehinmi) was "horrified to hear of his nomination."

His words: "Bayo Ojo, SAN was elected in August 2004 as president of the Nigerian Bar Association under the constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association. He swore to uphold, sustain and defend the association’s constitution. He has now violated it with gross impunity. This cannot and must not be tolerated in a society governed by the rule of law, constitutional order and democratic tenets.

"For the consumption of the public, I hereby reproduce Article 11 sub-article (iv)(f) of the constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association adopted at the delegates conference held in Calabar on the 31st of August, 2001 and duly signed by both the president and general-secretary of the association.

"It provides as follows:

"No serving president or other national officers shall canvass or solicit for appointment in government or if offered must decline. Otherwise, he or she shall be deemed guilty of professional misconduct and shall not attend or speak at any meeting of the association for such conduct, provided that the provision of this sub-article shall not apply to members of the association who are serving as representatives of the association on the executive bodies/commissions established under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as members serving as non-executive directors/board members of statutory corporation and government owned companies."

"The Senate which has the responsibility to screen the nominated Bayo Ojo, SAN is not prepared to uphold the constitution of his association which elected him into office. He Bayo Ojo, SAN does not have the traits of character to uphold, sustain and defend the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He will pay lip service to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as he has done to the constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association.

"I, therefore, appeal to the Senate to reject Bayo Ojo’s nomination as a federal minister bearing in mind that he has not displayed integrity in consonance with our national ethics as enshrined in section 23 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 which provides as follows:

"The national ethics shall be discipline, integrity, dignity of labour, social justice, religious tolerance, self-reliance and patriotism."

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