Coalition Expresses Concern Over Lack of Inclusivity in Ministerial List, Vetting Process

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Mr. Edetaen Ojo
Chair of Steering Committee of the Alliance for Deepening Democracy

The Alliance for Deepening Democracy (A4DD) has  expressed deep concern over the process of nomination and appointment of ministers, accusing President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of marginalizing important sectors of the society in his selection of prospective ministers and describing the confirmation hearings at the Senate as a mockery of a process that is meant to assess the suitability of the nominees.

In a statement issued today, the A4DD, a coalition of organizations from various sectors working collaboratively for the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria, noted that in a society where women represent about half of the population, it is unjust and inequitable that only about 25 per cent of the 28 names so far submitted by the President to the Senate for screening are women with no single person with disability on the list, although persons with disabilities make up about 15 percent of the country’s population. 

The Alliance insisted that President Tinubu’s failure to comply with even the less onerous government policy, as contained in the National Gender Policy, which specifies a minimum of 35 percent of positions to be reserved for women, was unacceptable as it is evidence of a blatant disregard for the rule of law, fairness, justice and equity.

Saying that the process of appointment of ministers presents the President with a unique opportunity to attempt a correction of the gender discrimination and inequity in the overall make up of government across the country, the Alliance expressed regret that rather than taking advantage of this opportunity, President Tinubu has opted to extend the injustice to the constitution of his cabinet.

It described the situation as unrepresentative and undemocratic and called on the President to ensure that a significant percentage, if not all, of the outstanding number of ministerial nominees are given to women and persons with disabilities.

The Alliance also criticized the practice of submitting names of prospective ministers to the Senate for screening without indicating the portfolios to be assigned to them, saying it is the clearest indication that neither the President nor the Senate is interested in appointing competent persons to manage the affairs of government across different sectors.

The Chair of the Steering Committee of the Alliance, Mr. Edetaen Ojo, who is also the Executive Director of Media Rights Agenda (MRA), said: “We are deeply troubled by this system of appointing ministers where there is no debate at all about who is best qualified to run what and the most important consideration appears to be where the nominees come from and who is loyal to whom. Since the President has not indicated the portfolios that his nominees will occupy, the Senate has no way of assessing their competence or qualifications for the positions that they will ultimately occupy.”

According to him, “For an Administration that claims to be guided by the greater good, this practice makes absolutely no sense as there is no benefit in it for the wider society, beyond the fact that it allows the President and those whom he consults on the appointment of ministers to dispense political patronage as reward or favours to political allies and cronies even when they have no competence or capacity to superintend over any ministry.  It benefits only a few while the rest of the country suffers from the mismanagement that is the direct result of their incompetence.”

The Alliance said it was scandalized by the ongoing confirmation hearings in the Senate where political colleagues, cronies and associates are simply asked to “take a bow” and leave without any effort by members of the Senate to diligently perform their constitutional function of screening the nominees.

It observed that although the Senate oversees and manages the screening process, the function ought to be performed in the interest of and for the benefit of the entire society such that citizens are also able to assess for themselves the qualifications and competence of the nominees through the hearings, adding that the Senate was failing woefully in meeting the interest of citizens on this front.

The Alliance called on the President and the Senate to take urgent steps to reform the process of nominating, vetting and appointing ministers in order to correct these shortcomings, even before the current exercise is concluded.