Ministerial screening: PDP chieftain knocks Kaduna senators for supporting El-Rufai

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A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Kaduna State, Alhaji Tahir Umar, has berated senators from the state over their support for former Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai during his screening for ministerial appointment by the Senate on Tuesday.

Senators from the state who are all members of the PDP demonstrated their support for the nomination of El-Rufai during his screening on the floor of the Red Chamber.

Although many Kaduna stakeholders protested against El-Rufai’s nomination by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, his screening could be considered a relief for him as Senators from his home supported him despite their political differences.

Senator Khalid Ibrahim Mustapha representing Kaduna North Senatorial District, who spoke in favour of El-Rufai lauded him over his past performances in office, stressing that he needed not be screened if his pedigree was to be considered.

The lawmaker said his support for the nominee was as a result of the fact that he is a citizen of Kaduna State while he urged Senators to allow El-Rufai take a bow and go like the chamber did to some of his colleagues previously.

He said: “Mr. Senate President, Distinguished colleagues, I rise to support this very distinguished nominee. The nominee is from Kaduna State and is bona fide citizen of Kaduna State. Secondly, he appeared before this hallowed Chamber sometime in 2003 and he was screened and cleared and precisely, he is a person that is well known nationally and internationally.

“He has the capacity to continue to do good as a minister. In this regard, I want to urge the Senate to consider this and also in respect of precedence that was established yesterday for two of his colleagues, that is the two former governors who appeared before us, nobody asked them questions because of their pedigree and they were asked to take a bow and go.

“I therefore, asked the Senate even with the questions that was asked to tell the nominee to take a bow and go because we all know he is capable.”

Although Senator Lawal Usman representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District and Sunday Katung (Kaduna South) maintained sealed lips during the screening of El-Rufai, their actions were taken to mean consent of the former governor’s screening as a nominee.

In Nigeria’s parliamentary setting, three Senators from the state of the nominee are usually offered opportunity by the Senate President or anyone presiding who sit as a chair to enable them speak for or against before other Senators from other states make their contributions.

Reacting, Umar expressed disappointment in the PDP lawmakers, especially Senator Mustapha, saying he “never mentioned the issue of the demolitions and sacking of teachers and civil servants as well as the neglect of killings and kidnappings in Birnin Gwari, Giwa and Kajuru”, which was the position of the party.

But the lawmaker, who later spoke through his aide under anonymous, said “politics is different from governance”, adding “my boss supported El-Rufai despite being a PDP Senator because he is from Kaduna and this has been pre-arranged that he will not talk through the screening session of the former governor.”

Specifically, the lawmakers, especially the one representing Kaduna South, was expected to raise the issue of the killings and marginalization of his people that has been an allegation against El-Rufai when he governed the State for eight years.

It was only Senator Sunday Karimi representing Kogi West Senatorial District, who, though spoke well of the ex-governor tendered a petition against him to the Deputy Senate President, Senator Jibrin Barau who was presiding.

There had been tension and uncertainty over the El-Rufai’s screening as a result of petition which trailed his nomination on Thursday last week, and these were further deepened by protest against him at the National Assembly gate by some citizens of the state, alleging that the nominee who is a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC has a pending financial suit against him at the Federal High Court, Abuja over alleged fraud to the tune of N32 billion.

They also averred that he was being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, particularly as a ruling was given by the Hon. Justice Binta Nyako in a suit no: FHC/ABJ/CS/60/09 dated November 30, 2019 permitting the anti-graft agency to investigate him.

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