By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, had said that the just-concluded screening of the 43 ministerial nominees sent to the Senate by President Muhammadu Buhari was basically to ensure that they all complied with the minimum constitutional requirements to become cabinet members.
Omo-Agege said the 43 nominees sent by the President had already passed through the crucible of security screening before their names were sent to the Senate in line with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The Deputy Senate President, according to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Yomi Odunuga,
said this while fielding questions from newsmen during his visit to his country home, Orogun in Ughelli North Local Area, Delta State at the weekend.
The statement quoted the DSP as saying, “President Muhammadu Buhari, having contested and won election, is entitled to work with whoever he wants; our job in the Senate is not really to examine the nominees, but just to ensure they meet the barest minimum qualifications as required by the constitution.
“We all know what it is for you to be a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, you must have the minimum qualifications with the membership of the House of Representatives and following the provision of the 4th alteration we made in the constitution, it has reduced the age qualification to contest for the House of Representatives .
“So, for us, it is just to go through the checklist – is this nominee up to the recommended age? If the answer is yes, we tick it. Is he educated up to School Certificate? That is what the constitution requires, if the answer is ‘yes’, we tick it. Has he/she been convicted of crime within the last ten years? If it’s ‘no’, we tick it. Is he a Nigerian citizen? If it’s ‘yes’, we tick it. And of course, is he a member of a political party? If it’s a ‘yes’, we tick it because you cannot run for the membership of the House of Representatives without being sponsored by a political party.
“Once they meet these minimum requirements, the President has the right to work with them and that was the template which the Senate worked with to clear them.”
On the qualifications of the nominees presented for screening, Omo-Agege recalled that that Mr. President insisted on nominating those he knows personally, adding that before they were sent to the Senate, “they had gone through the screening by the State Security Services and we received the certificates of clearance from the security body.”
According to him, “before we began the screening process, we knew that none of them had legal issues.”
Responding to questions on the state of the APC in Delta State, Omo-Agege expressed support for ongoing moves towards total reconciliation within the party, adding that “I think it is about time.”
He assured that he will use his position in the Senate to empower his people and the entire country.
Earlier, while addressing the mammoth crowd that thronged the country home of the Senator in Orhomuru, Orogun to welcome him, Omo-Agege acknowledged and thanked the Urhobo people who voted for him to become Senator for a second time.
He also thanked President Buhari for supporting and giving him the opportunity to be elected the Deputy President of the Senate as well as his colleagues who, “in spite of all odds”, gave him their support to ensure he emerged as the number two principal officer in the Senate.
Omo-Agege urged the Urhobo people to support President Buhari in his next level agenda, adding that the President has been very magnanimous to Delta Central by supporting him to become Deputy President of the Senate as well as appointing an illustrious son of Urhobo, Festus Keyamo as Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Disclosing that he actually came home to attend the funeral of a late APC chieftain in the state, Late Chief Adolor Okotie-Eboh in Warri, the Senator expressed gratitude to the membership of the party in the state.
Present at the occasion were the party executive in the state led by the chairman, Prophet Jones Ode Erue, the 2019 APC governorship candidate, Chief Great Ogboru, the Vice chairman, Delta Central, Olorogun Barr Adelabu Bodjor, Olorogun Richard Odibo, Olorogun Bernard Okumagba, Dr. Veronica Ogbuagu, amongst other party faithful.