PDP senators attack ministerial nominee over comments
Temper rose on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday during
the screening of six out of the remaining 11 ministerial
nominees of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Trouble started when the nominee from Akwa Ibom State,
Pastor Usani Uguru, during his screening, said “God forbid”
to an observation that he had a good relationship with some
Peoples Democratic Party politicians as a public officer.
The nominee, a member at the Nigerian Copyright
Commission, had informed the senators that he had good
relationship with some politicians, including senators, in the
discharge of his official responsibility.
“Are they PDP members?” a senator asked.
responded, “God forbid”, twice, thus provoking the anger of
the opposition senators and a point of order raised by the
Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, who is the immediate
past governor of Akwa Ibom State.
Akpabio drew the attention of the Senate to the alleged rude
remarks of the nominee against the PDP, stressing that the
privileges and rights of his colleagues had been breached by
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, noted the observation
of the majority leader and asked the nominee to react to the
issue. The nominee apologised and the screening process
Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, also of PDP, accused the
nominee of failure to declare his assets because the
document was not attached to his Curriculum Vitae.
that all the nominees had submitted copies of their resume
and that they were available in his office for confirmation.
Another PDP senator, Mao Ohuabunwa, drew the attention
of the Senate to the fact that Uguru allegedly procured his
tax clearance certificates on the same day, thereby creating
an impression that the nominee had rushed to pay because
of the screening.
Ohuabunwa said, “All the tax clearance certificates the man
submitted to the Senate were obtained on the same day.
Mr. Senate President, we should not ignore it. We should
find out why tax clearance for a number of years were
obtained and submitted to the Senate on the same day.
“I am a Christian and this was submitted by a Pastor, not a
Mallam. This is not correct, it is not in order.”
Saraki also faulted the point of order raised by Ohuabunwa
and ruled him out of order, while the Senate Leader, Ali
Ndume, clarified that Uguru as well as other nominees could
still declare their assets, either before or after their
Another nominee, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed from Zamfara State,
created another mild drama when a senator asked her to
recite the National Pledge and she missed a line.
Ahmed worked in the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited
and Mobile Telecommunications for about 20 years before
her appointment as the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian
Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.
In place of ending the pledge with “…to be faithful, loyal and
honest,” she said, “….to be loyal, faithful and honest. “ The
action generated prolonged side talks among the senators.
The Osun State nominee, Prof. Adewole Folorunso, during
his screening, raised the alarm that 40,000 women died
annually in the country due to pregnancy related
The nominee, who is the outgoing Vice Chancellor of the
University of Ibadan, also said that 800,000 children died
annually in the country due to preventable diseases.
He said, “I have been in public service for over 30 years as
a doctor, obstetrician, public health activist, teacher and VC
of Nigeria’s premier institution, the University of Ibadan.
“I have been largely preoccupied with the repositioning of
the nation’s health and education systems as a platform for
human development. Our major concern is that our health
indicators are worrisome.
“Over 40,000 women die during pregnancy and delivery
yearly and we lose some 800,000 children from largely
preventable causes every year and we are the largest
contributor of HIV in new born globally.”
He lamented that women and children in Nigeria are
vulnerable to infant and maternal mortality and therefore
called for a conscious decision to improve the health status
of our women and children and by extension the men.
He also said that the UI, where he has been as a VC for the
last five years, had witnessed a massive transformation
under his watch.
Adewole attributed the problem of falling standard of
education in the country to consistent underfunding of the
sector and pledged to make positive impact if his
appointment was confirmed.
He said, “Following the prolonged ASUU strike of six
months, government promised to inject funds into the
university system as part of an effort to revitalise it, N1.3tn
was voted for this exercise.
“I must say that the first tranche that should have been
released to the universities in 2013 is all we got. And we
had only N73bn. So, nothing in 2014 and nothing in 2015.
We really need to follow through and make sure that the
universities are well-funded, the staff are well motivated
and I can assure you, being part of this system that our
universities will deliver.”
He also stressed the need to address the issue of cancer in
the country by setting up a National Cancer Centre without
He said, “Cancer is something that we have to deal with.
We are talking about the burden of communicable diseases
in Nigeria. But we are also looking at another aspect,
looking at the demographic transition of this country, we
are living longer, getting obese, exercising less and cancer
is specifically a disease of the old age.
“When we look at this demographic transition and the rising
incidence of cancer, it is on the increase for Africa. So, this
country must be prepared for a potential epidemic in the