SENATE HOLDS BACK EL-RUFAI, OKOTETE, DANLADI MINISTERIAL CONFIRMATIONS AMID SECURITY SCREENING CAUTION

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The Nigerian Senate made a pivotal move yesterday, refraining from confirming Malam Nasir El-Rufai, Stella Okotete, and Senator Abubakar Danladi as ministers due to unresolved security screening concerns. However, the upper chamber did grant approval for the appointment of 45 other ministerial candidates submitted by President Bola Tinubu for assessment.

El-Rufai, the former governor of Kaduna State, Stella Okotete, Executive Director of Business Development at the Nigerian Export-Import Bank, and Senator Abubakar Danladi, a former deputy and later governor of Taraba State, found themselves in a holding pattern as their confirmation required additional security scrutiny.

The Senate, under the leadership of Senate President Godswill Akpabio, conscientiously evaluated the nominees, divided into three batches, over a span of six legislative days.

While El-Rufai, Okotete, and Danladi experienced delays in their ministerial journey, a group of diverse and qualified individuals received the Senate’s nod for confirmation. Senators Abubakar Kyari (Borno), Abubakar Momoh (Edo), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), and other prominent figures earned their places in the proposed cabinet.

A dramatic scene unfolded within the Senate chambers as the screening of Festus Keyamo (SAN), the Delta State ministerial nominee, led to unexpected uproar. Keyamo faced allegations of making derogatory remarks about the ninth senate and questioned the manner in which he interacted with National Assembly members in the past.

Festus Keyamo, a former Minister of State for Employment, Labour, and Productivity during the previous administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, stood before the Senate for scrutiny as the 48th nominee in President Bola Tinubu’s proposed cabinet.

As he addressed the Senate, Keyamo recounted his decades-long dedication to the legal profession and his involvement in advancing democracy, the rule of law, and human rights. He highlighted his qualifications, official roles, and government experiences.

Keyamo shared a surprising twist by revealing that he had been prepared to embark on an overseas vacation before unexpectedly being notified of his nomination. He expressed gratitude to President Bola Tinubu for the unique opportunity to serve, acknowledging the President’s special benevolence.

However, the proceedings took a contentious turn when Deputy Minority Leader, Senator Darlington Nwokocha of the Labour Party representing Abia Central Senatorial District, brought up Keyamo’s role in the 2020 public works program and his interactions with lawmakers at that time.

Senator Nwokocha recalled the disagreements and exchanges between Keyamo and the Senate during the previous public works program, raising concerns about the utilization of appropriated funds and the responsibility of the legislature in oversight.

Amidst impassioned discussions and differences of opinion, the Senate recessed into an executive session to deliberate on Keyamo’s fate. After several hours, the closed session concluded with Keyamo expressing remorse for his past actions towards the National Assembly.

The Senate Committee on Labour and Productivity in the 9th Senate, led by Senator Godiya Akwashiki, appealed for leniency, ultimately leading to a unanimous decision by the senators to allow Keyamo to proceed and take his leave.

Rhe ministerial confirmation process and Keyamo’s journey through the Senate showcased the intricacies and dynamics of Nigerian politics, as well as the importance of accountability and constructive engagement between the executive and legislative branches.

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