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Nigerian Committee to Vet Prospective Ministers for Buhari

Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari, June 14, 2015.

Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari, June 14, 2015.

A senate committee in Nigeria has been established to begin vetting President Muhammadu Buhari’s list of prospective ministers on Tuesday, according to Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim. Buhari submitted a first batch of 21 nominees on September 30.

This will allow Buhari to assign them their ministerial portfolios afteBuharir they are approved by the senate as enshrined in the constitution.

Senator Ibrahim says the senate will be thorough and transparent in the vetting process before approving any member on the list before Buhari presents them with their portfolios.

During his election campaign, Buhari had promised to only work with officials in his administration who have a proven track record and who are not tainted with corruption.

Senator Ibrahim says the first batch of names that the senate committee is scheduled to begin vetting appears to be above reproach.

“We will only approve it generally, we don’t give them portfolios. It is when we approve them, the president will then give them the portfolios so that every minister is going to be in charge of a ministry at the federal level,” said Ibrahim.

“The committee has already been set up. They are going to start screening them on Tuesday. Screening means getting their documents, paper qualifications, experiences, and then the senate will approve and send it to Mr. president. [This] will only be done in batches. He has only brought the first set. There are still going to be 15 more.”

Critics have questioned why it has taken President Buhari over four months to come up with a list of prospective ministers for the senate’s approval. They argue that it is an indication the president and his administration appear not to be ready to govern after winning the recent election. The critics also questioned why there are only three women in the first batch of 21 to be vetted.

Ibrahim disagreed with the criticism.

“I think it is premature … Let’s see the balance because he might probably bring more women on the 15 names he will submit later. After all, the affirmative talks about 30 percent for women, and 30 percent of 36 is 12. So, we have three now and if we are able to get an additional 9 out of the 15 that will satisfy the affirmative action,” said Ibrahim.

Analysts say the vetting process of the prospective ministers is likely to be about personal integrity and political loyalty rather than technical competence needed to accomplish the task in the sectors they would be assigned to.

Senator Ibrahim disagreed.

“So far, out of the names he has submitted, I don’t know of anyone who has a bad record, who is likely to be rejected by the senate. There are a few controversial [ones], but those controversies are mainly political and should not deter Mr. president from nominating them. If they are found guilty of one thing later, of course he could always remove them and replace them with others,” said Ibrahim.