The Nigerian Senate is statutorily obligated to confirm nominees intended to be appointed Ministers by the President and for the first time in our history, a Senate has insisted on screening a President who has appointed himself Minister of Petroleum (former President Olusegun Obasanjo did as well). Senator Bukola Saraki has played the ‘victim’ role perfectly well and has succeeded in making his colleagues believe they are standing up to witch hunt and intimidation as far as the Presidency is concerned. They’ll win because I don’t see anyway around the provision of Section 147 (2) of the Constitution, which encompasses every ministerial nomination or ‘appointment’ made by the President because the President appointed himself. You can’t blame a man for doing the right thing, but you can love him for foregoing it for a greater good.
It would be most degrading to the office of the President to have him stand before people who set out just to prove they could have him there. I hate to imagine what he could be subjected to on National TV just because someone sees it as a chance to throw back some punches and win a round. Well, maybe it is indeed a fight.
But even if one sees it from that perspective, it is a fight between good and evil. The President’s first sin was not interfering in the Senate presidency tussle like a true democrat should. Second would be promising to work with anybody as long as they weren’t corrupt and third, convening a meeting to help mediate between winners of the All Progressives Congress (his party) National Assembly leadership primaries and aggrieved factions. Lastly, punishing a corrupt Senate president who abstained from his settlement meeting with his cohorts to stage a ‘coup’ of an election. Evil in this case is subjective. The Constitutional thing or the right thing? Pick a side.
The Senate has come out to say everyone will be subjected to proper screening and that the days of ‘Take a bow and Leave’ ministerial screenings are over. Well, it could mean they are starting to do their job well but it could also mean they are creating a perfect atmosphere to prey on their victims. You get a feeling this could be the most dramatic Senate screening ever and even if all nominees are eventually cleared, they would leave there wondering if questions could get any more obnoxious.
That is what the President of the Federal Republic could go through in addition to perhaps singing the National Anthem and facing annoyingly embarrassing corrections of his pronunciations or intonation. All because someone has their one shot and they have to make it count.
Ordinarily, President Muhammadu Buhari is of the ‘Take a bow and leave’ category not just because he is President but also because he has served the country meritoriously well when he held the portfolio in question and also made huge strides in the oil sector as Head of State. Strides that include building refineries, establishing about 20 depots and laying more than 3,000 pipelines to connect them. You couldn’t wish for a better person to man the affairs of the Ministry. Least of all now, when it is at its worst. He has earned every iota of respect he commands. The Senate President could very well end up in jail for a long time and it wouldn’t be out of place for him to seize every opportunity to vent his frustration on the President. The Senate have every right to insist on screening the President as our Constitution says, but is it right in these circumstances? I don’t think so.
. Hassan is a lawyer based in Kano. He tweets at: @alaye26. He can also be reached via: [email protected].