By Abdulsemihi Oladele
On the 1999 Constitution and Senate confirmation of ministerial nominations, the law is clear and unambiguous. The constitution says the Senate ONLY needs to ‘confirm’.
According Black’s Law Dictionary, ‘confirm’ means ”To complete or establish that which was imperfect or uncertain; to ratify what has been done without authority or insufficiently”. Boggs v. Mining Co.. 14 Cal. 305; Railway Co. v. Ransom, 15 Tex. Civ. App. 689, 41 S. W. 826.
The same dictionary defines ‘Screening’ as ”Evaluation of a number of subjects to determine which have the right characteristics or attributes you are looking for”.
From the foregoing, the process by which ministerial nominations are subjected to screening is not with the true intents and purposes of its enabling law. Screening, as its always being used, is illegal and does not conform with the intents of the draftsmen of the constitution.
The Constitution under Section 147 (2) states that ”Any appointment to the office of Minister of the Government of the Federation shall, if the nomination of any person to such office is confirmed by the Senate, be made by the President.”
The procedure for ministerial appointments is a simple, clear and concise process which does not require even the appearance of such persons before the Senate (At least was not provided as a prerequisite).
To buttress further, the Constitution went further under Subsection (6) of Section 147 thus: ”An appointment to any of the offices aforesaid shall be deemed to have been made where no return has been received from the Senate within twenty-one working days of the receipt of nomination by the Senate”
In other words, the nominations of ministers ONLY needs vetting from the Senate and does not require screening. Anything otherwise is illegal, unconditional and of no effect whatsoever.
Find below the complete provision of Section 147 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
(1) There shall be such offices of Ministers of the Government of the Federation as may be established by the President.
(2) Any appointment to the office of Minister of the Government of the Federation shall, if the nomination of any person to such office is confirmed by the Senate, be made by the President.
(3) Any appointment under subsection (2) of this section by the President shall be in conformity with the provisions of section 14(3) of this Constitution:- provided that in giving effect to the provisions aforesaid, the President shall appoint, at least, one Minister from each State, who shall be an indigene of such State.
(4) Where a member of the National Assembly or of a House of Assembly is appointed as Minister of the Government of the Federation, he shall be deemed to have resigned his membership of the National Assembly or of the House of Assembly on his taking the oath of office as Minister.
(5) No person shall be appointed as a Minister of the Government of the Federation unless he is qualified for election as a member of the House of Representatives.
(6) An appointment to any of the offices aforesaid shall be deemed to have been made where no return has been received from the Senate within twenty-one working days of the receipt of nomination by the Senate.
…..Abdulsemihi Oladele is a public affairs analyst based in Lagos, Nigeria