Kola Ologbondiyan PDP

Senate Okays Nominees Today, PDP Demands EFCC Probe

The Senate will on Tuesday (today) confirm the appointment of ministerial nominees who passed its screening.

But the Peoples Democratic Party on Monday called on the Senate to send the nominees’ list to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for further screening because “some of the ex-governors and former ministers nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari have corruption cases on their necks.”

The red chamber had, between Wednesday and Monday, screened 39 out of the 43 nominees forwarded to it by President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday last week.

The nominees screened on Monday were Gbemisola Saraki (Kwara); Goddy Jedy-Agba (Cross River); Sulaiman Adamu (Jigawa); Maryam Katagun (Bauchi); Clement Agba (Edo); Geoffrey Onyeama (Enugu); Muhammad Mahmoud (Kaduna); Rauf Aregbesola (Osun) and Babatunde Fashola (Lagos).

The remaining nominees to be screened on Tuesday (today) are Sabo Nanono (Kano), Lai Mohammed (Kwara) and Saleh Mamman (Taraba).

The Senate President will preside over the plenary after the screening of the remaining three nominees and seek confirmation for each of the appointees, one after the other through voice votes on Tuesday (today).

The red chamber is expected to proceed on annual two months recess after the confirmation.

But as the Senate was screening some of the ministerial nominees on Monday, the PDP urged the Senate to further give credibility to its ministerial screening by sending the nominees’ names to the EFCC for further investigation and screening.

The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement also stated that the screening must have enabled the Senate to further confirm that many of the nominees presented to it by President Muhammadu Buhari included alleged corrupt persons.

These individuals, Ologbondiyan claimed, were former governors and ministers who had allegedly wrecked their states and ministries.

He added that some of them had serious allegations of corruption, abuse of office and stealing of public funds hanging on their necks.

According to him, the nomination of persons allegedly with corruption badges to serve in the federal cabinet indicated that “Buhari does not only condone graft but also explicitly promotes corruption.”

He stated that this was particularly sad as Buhari had earlier declared that he would only “nominate persons he knows personally.”

Ologbondiyan said, “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 ongoing corruption cases in various courts.

“The PDP calls on the Senate to note that some of the nominees have failed to defend their corruption allegations. This includes a particular former minister from the North-Central, who had admitted to the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission of complicity in the N2.5bn National Broadcasting Commission fraud case, still pending in court.

“This is in addition to certain nominees, who as state governors, swindled their states, fleeced workers and committed several financial crimes for which they should rather be standing trial, instead of being rewarded with official protection as ministers.

“Our party notes that the gathering of corrupt persons as cabinet ministers is a clear pointer to a scheme by the cabal in the Presidency to further entrench corruption in our nation.

“Urging the Senate to take a cursory look at 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 PDP spokesman urged the Senate to note that Buhari had not demonstrated any commitment to the fight against corruption.

According to him, for that reason, Nigerians now look up to the National Assembly to protect the nation from the alleged excesses of the Buhari Presidency.

He stated that the PDP had demonstrated this determination in its nominations for leadership positions in the party at all levels.

Ologbondiyan urged the Senate to stand with the people by resisting the alleged manipulations of the Buhari Presidency to ensure that only persons with clean records were cleared as ministers.

However, none of the presidential spokespersons, Mr Femi Adesina and Mr Garba Shehu, responded to calls from The PUNCH last night, to seek their comments on the position of the PDP.

But Shehu had in an interview  on Sunday asked Nigerians who held the view that some of the ministerial nominees were not qualified to become ministers to take their complaints to the National Assembly.

He said Buhari alone could not fight corruption in the country, hence Nigerians must also play their role in the anti-graft war.

Meanwhile, the Executive Chairman, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Mr Debo Adeniran, said the PDP was not alone in the call for the ministerial nominees to be subjected to corruption probe.

Adeniran said, “It is not just the PDP that is making that call. What we even recommended was that the Senate, while screening, should have done background checks on the nominees to know those that corruption allegations are hanging on their necks, because the essence of screening is to find out how suitable they are. The Senate should have asked them to go and clear themselves of the corruption allegations before coming back to the Senate for screening. Those that are being prosecuted should have been asked to have their trial concluded before they come back to the Senate.

“I don’t understand why the President would nominate people that have been indicted of corruption. So, if the PDP is making such a demand, it is its duty to do so. But it is not only the PDP that is making the demand. CACOL is also saying that these people need to discharge themselves of the corruption allegations against them and they have to come with a clean bill of health before they would be allowed to be appointed  minister.

“Besides, the nominees also should have declared their assets so that there would be a benchmark to assess them after their tenure of office.”

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