Ministerial Screening: Reactions trail PDP Senators support for El-Rufai


By Tunde Opalana

Reactions have trailed the overwhelming support by the three elected senators from Kaduna State who are all members of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP for the nomination of the former governor of the state, Malam Nasir El-Rufai during his screening on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday.

El-Rufai who was listed as number three to be screened appeared before the lawmakers alongside his colleagues amid tension and uncertainty as a result of petition which trailed his nomination on Thursday last week, when the Ministerial list was unveiled by the Senate President, Godswill Obot Akpabio.

What further deepened agitation was the protest against the nomination of El-Rufai at the entrance to the National Assembly by some citizens of the state alleging that the nominee, a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC has a pending financial suit against him at the Federal High Court, Abuja over alleged fraud to the tune of N32 billion.

They also averred that he was being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, particularly as a ruling was given by the Hon. Justice Binta Nyako in a suit no: FHC/ABJ/CS/60/09 dated November 30, 2019 permitting the anti-graft agency to investigate him.

This, not withstanding, and among other concerns raised by Kaduna stakeholders protesting his nomination by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Tuesday screening of El-Rufai could be considered a relief for him as senators from his home supported him despite their political differences.

Senator Khalid Ibrahim Mustapha representing Kaduna North Senatorial District who spoke in favour of El-Rufai lauded him over his past performances in office, stressing that he needed not be screened if his pedigree was to be considered.

According to him, he said his support for the nominee was as a result of the fact that he is a citizen of Kaduna State while he urged Senators to allow El-Rufai take a bow and go like the Chamber did to some of his colleagues previously.

He said: “Mr Senate President, Distinguished colleagues, I rise to support this very distinguished nominee. The nominee is from Kaduna State and is bona fide citizen of Kaduna State. Secondly, he appeared before this hallowed Chamber sometime in 2003 and he was screened and cleared and precisely, he is a person that is well known nationally and internationally.

“He has the capacity to continue to do good as a Minister. In this regard, I want to urge the Senate to consider this and also in respect of precedence that was established yesterday for two of his colleagues, that is the two former governors who appeared before us, nobody asked them questions because of their pedigree and they were asked to take a bow and go.

“I therefore, asked the Senate even with the questions that was asked to tell the nominee to take a bow and go because we all know he is capable.”

In Nigeria’s parliamentary setting, three senators from the state of the nominee are usually offered opportunity by the Senate President or anyone presiding who sit as a Chair to enable them speak for or against before other Senators from other States make their contributions.

However, Senator Lawal Usman representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District maintained sealed lips during the screening of El-Rufai.

Reacting after the screening, a Chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party in Kaduna, Alhaji Tahir Umar expressed disappointment, saying, “the lawmaker never mentioned the issue of the demolitions and sacking of teachers and civil servants as well as the neglect of killings and kidnappings in Birnin Gwari, Giwa and Kajuru”, which was the position of the party.

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This was also the same with Senator Sunday Katung who didn’t mention a word during the screening before Senator Sunday Karimi representing Kogi West Senatorial District, who, though spoke well of the ex-governor tendered a petition against him to the Deputy Senate President, Senator Jibrin Barau who was presiding.

This was against expectation that the lawmaker from Southern Kaduna will raise the issue of the killings and marginalization of his people that has been an allegation against El-Rufai during his eight years administration.

Effort to speak with one of the senators proved abortive as an aide of his spoke under anonymous, saying that “politics is different from governance. My boss supported El-Rufai despite being a PDP senator because he is from Kaduna and this has been pre-arranged that he will not talk through the screening session of the former governor.

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