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Tinubu doesn't need to submit full list of ministers within 60 days — Akpabio

A lawmaker protested President Tinubu's possible constitutional violation, but Senator Akpabio jumped to his rescue.

President Bola Tinubu and Senator Godswill Akpabio are political allies and the Senate President has been protecting his nominees from any serious examination at the ongoing Senate screening of ministerial appointees [Presidency]

The timeline requirement is new, one of over a dozen constitutional amendments signed by the outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari in March 2023.

When he finally submitted his list of ministerial nominees to the Senate on July 27, President Bola Tinubu beat the 60-day deadline by just a day, but contravened the constitution anyway by submitting an incomplete list.

The president noted in his letter to the Senate that the list of 28 nominees was only a partial one, and promised to submit a second list of names in a matter of days.

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Of the 28 names, three states had two nominees each, but a total of 11 states had none, a violation of Section 147 (3) of the constitution which states, "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."

Considering that a full ministerial list the constitution mandates the president to submit within 60 days implicitly suggests there should be a spread of nominees across all 36 states, critics have accused Tinubu of violating the constitution with a placeholder list.

None of the senators challenged the anomaly when Akpabio read the letter on July 27, but Senator Binos Dauda Yaroe (Adamawa South - PDP) eventually addressed it just before the screening of the nominees started on Monday, July 31.

The lawmaker raised a point of order to challenge the absurdity of the screening, noting the president's failure to adhere fully to the constitution.

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"The presentation we received on Thursday, July 27, is in contravention of the constitution because Mr President did not submit nominees from all the states of the Federation. If we go ahead (with the screening of nominees), we'd be also condoning that contravention of the constitution," he said.

The President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom North-West - APC) said the lawmaker had not interpreted the constitution correctly and asked him to read it again for his colleagues.

Yaroe obeyed the instruction and read Section 147 (7) which reads, "Notwithstanding the provision of subsection (2) of this section, the nomination of any person to the office of a Minister for confirmation by the Senate shall be done within 60 days after a date the President has taken the oath of office, provided that the President may appoint a minister at any other time during his tenure and such appointment shall be subject to confirmation by the Senate."

In response, Akpabio said the subsection actually means the president only needs to provide at least one nominee to the Senate to fulfill the constitution's requirement in that respect.

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The former governor and minister said, "If you read the constitution very well, it says the president shall forward a nominee. In other words, a minister. We have 28 ministers already here, and more are still coming.

"Within 60 days, he's brought 28 ministers and more names are coming, so we're within the constitutional framework."

Yaroe dropped his protest after Akpabio ruled that his point of order was noted, and the Senate proceeded to screen 14 of the nominees.

Those screened are Abubakar Momoh, Nyesom Wike, John Enoh, Badaru Abubakar, Bello Muhammad, Abubakar Kyari, Sani Abubakar Danladi, Joseph Utsev, Nkiruka Onyejeocha, Olubunmi Tunji Ojo, Betta Edu, Uju Kennedy Ohaneye, Iman Suleiman Ibrahim, and Yusuf Maitama Tuggar.

The screening will continue on Tuesday, August 1.

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