Senate compels ministerial nominee to apologise over remarks on PDP

The Senate

The Senate

• Senators fault him on tax clearance
• NEITI boss canvasses action on audit reports

FOR making remark considered uncomplimentary to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the floor of the Senate, a ministerial nominee, Pastor Usani Usani Uguru, was yesterday compelled to tender an apology.

The nominee, while responding to comments by some All Progressives Congress (APC) senators as to whether he had anything to do with PDP members had responded: “God forbid!”

However, Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, cited Order 14 of the Senate standing rule, pointing out that the privileges of PDP had been breached by Uguru’s remarks.

Akpabio noted that it was unfortunate that Uguru could see the party as a forbidden thing long after he had served the PDP-led federal administration as a commissioner in the National Copyright Commission.

Akpabio further stressed that many current senators including the President of the Senate were once in the PDP before defecting to the APC.

Another nominee, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and ministerial nominee from Kaduna State, Zainab Ahmed, ‎also yesterday charged the National Assembly to always put pressure on the executive arm of government to execute all audit reports.

She lamented that ‎even the NEITI reports and recommendations had not been satisfactorily implemented.

“My suggestion will be that when an audit is conducted, like the NEITI audit or the PwC audit of NNPC, the recommendations of this audit should be implemented. As a matter of fact, the various committee works that this Senate has done and also the House of Representatives, that those recommendations should be implemented. We should not do reports and the reports sit on shelves unattended to and unimplemented.

“We have done so many reviews, the analysis on the table, it’s already available. We don’t have to do any extra work. All we need to do is take these recommendations and start implementing them.”

Ahmed also sought massive investment in agriculture to enable Nigeria withstand the negative effects of decline in oil prices.

In a bid to halt the tension arising from the matter, Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki asked Akpabio to take his seat, adding that his point had been made and noted.

Saraki quickly turned to the nominee and asked for his reaction to which a chastened Uguru replied: “I am extremely sorry.”

Raising another point of order, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa (PDP, Abia State) drew the attention of his colleagues to an issue that the nominee did not comply with the law on tax payment because all his tax clearance papers as contained in his curriculum vitae were obtained on the same day.

He said: “All the tax clearances the man submitted to the Senate were obtained on the same day, the same date and at the same time. Mr. Senate President, we should not ignore this. We should find out why tax clearances for a number of years were obtained on the same day and submitted to the Senate. I am a Christian, and this is submitted by a Pastor not a Malam. And we as Senate should not ignore this.”

Saraki, however, ruled Ohuabunwa out of order, pointing out that he ought to have put it as a question to the nominee.

Before the end of Uguru’s screening, Senate Majority Leader, Mohammed Ali Ndume and Senator Enyinnanya Abaribe openly disagreed over Uguru’s alleged non-compliance with the law on asset declaration.

Abaribe had drawn the attention of the Senate to the fact that Uguru had not complied with the Section 120 of the Senate rule which states that ‎no nominee would be confirmed until he had shown proof of compliance with the asset declaration law.

But Ndume rose in Uguru’s defence, explaining that the nominee could declare his assets even after confirmation by the Senate.

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