President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday forwarded eight more ministerial nominees to the senate just as the senate confirmed eight ministerial nominees bringing the number of confirmed ministers to 32.
In a letter read on the floor by the president of the Senate, David Mark, the president urged the senators to confirm, Mrs. Sarah Reng Ochekpe (Plateau), Mr. Edem Duke (Cross River), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Ms. Ama Pepple (Rivers), Mrs. Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafia (Kaduna), Dr. Nurudeen Mohammed (Jigawa), Mrs. Omobola Johnson Olubusola (Ondo) and Dr. Mohammed Pate (Bauchi) as ministers of the Federal republic of Nigeria.
However, the president of the Senate announced the withdrawal of Dr. Obadiah Ando (Taraba) from the nomination list. He did not advance any reason. It was nonetheless learnt that the withdrawal of the erstwhile minister of water resources may not be unconnected with the objection of his three state senators to his choice as the state nominee by the president.
Also, the Senate concluded the constitution of its body of principal officers yesterday with the announcement of Senator Abdul Ningi (Bauchi) as the deputy Senate majority leader thus ending the associated crises ignited by the North East Senate caucus when they rejected the position. Ningi was a majority leader in the House of Representatives between 2003 and 2007.
The eight ministerial nominees cleared by the senate include; Alhaji Bukar Tijani (Borno), Arc Mike Onolememen (Edo), Alhaji Bolaji Abdullahi (Kwara), Amb. Olugbenga Ashiru (Ogun), Ms. Olajumoke Akinjide (Oyo), Dr. Yerima Lawan Ngama (Yobe), Amb Bashir Yuguda (Zamfara), Hajia Zainab Ibrahim Kuchi (Niger).
Responding to questions during the screening Amb. Ashiru, declared that not only is Nigeria deserving of a permanent seat at the United Nations security council, but also must of current reality change her foreign policy focus from Africa as its centre piece to investment drive, adding that the country has paid her dues.
He also advised for an urgent convening of a conference on foreign policy where a holistic review of the policy would be addressed to chart a new course that would reflect the current realities in the global system. The last conference he said was held in 1986 in Kuru, Jos. “The participants must be drawn from all the players, including the National Assembly, Academia and all stakeholders involved in foreign policy formulation.
“The afro centric policy currently practiced should not be totally jettisoned it should be re-modified to reduce poverty, support government effort in infrastructural development.
“The issue of taking our troops to other countries and they just say thank you is unacceptable, we must tie those assistance with reciprocal benefits.
On his part, former minister of state for defence, Mike Onolememen lamented that the housing situation in the country was near a crisis situation. He added that since the creation of the FDA 43 years ago only 43,000 houses have been built. Moreover the UN probe shows a housing deficit in Nigeria of up to 17 million, which means that we need to build one million houses every year to deal with it.”
On the malaise of collapsed buildings in the country he noted that the building code which was designed in 2006 was not adhered to by the relevant stakeholders.” It has everything to guarantee safe building construction so that nothing goes wrong. But the enforcement is lacking. The various town planning control are understaffed.”
Tijani, in his own response, frowned at the implementation of the subsidy on fertiliser, saying that it is worrisome that it does not get to the beneficiaries who are the small scale farmers.
Meanwhile, the ministerial nominees cleared by the Senate will be inaugurated by Jonathan at about 3pm today.