President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, Tuesday said screening of ministerial nominees from President Muhammadu Buhari, would be ‘thorough and comprehensive.’
Saraki gave the hint while welcoming senators to plenary in Abuja after a long recess.
He said that screening of the nominees would be in-depth to ensure that only competent and qualified individuals only occupied the positions.
“As we await the list of ministerial nominees this week, we are prepared to treat the screening with dispatch but with thoroughness.
‘’I believe the presence of ministers will create the space for greater policy engagement with the executive arm of government.
“I want to urge you all my colleagues to ensure that what is uppermost in our minds as we begin the constitutional task of screening of ministerial nominees is the overall interest of our country,’’ he said.
‘’Once the list is submitted, let us ensure that we treat it with dispatch and thoroughness. We must not be held down by unnecessary politicking.
“The enormity of our national challenges at this time does not give room for pettiness or politics of vendetta,” Saraki added.
He recalled his ongoing trial by Code of Conduct Tribunal, and alleged that he was being witch-hunted because he became President of the Senate against the wishes of some political actors.
He commended Buhari for not interfering in the affairs of the National Assembly in spite of pressures on him to do so.
“I shall avoid discussing the details of that case here for obvious reasons. Meanwhile, I wish to reiterate my remarks before the tribunal that I have no iota of doubt that I am on trial today because I am the President of the Nigerian Senate. This is against the wishes of some powerful individuals outside this chamber.
“The laws of Nigeria do not give any consideration to any other forces outside the senate in the election of its president. To yield the ground on this note, is to be complicit in the subversion of democracy and its core principles of separation of powers as enshrined in our constitution.
“This is why we must once again commend President Muhammadu Buhari for refusing to interfere in the election of the National Assembly leadership even in the face of enormous pressures on him to do so.
“He has proven quite concretely that he is indeed a born-again democrat,” he said.
Saraki insisted that democracy, and indeed, the independence of the legislature and other arms of government must be safeguarded, and urged senators and Nigerians to rededicate themselves to the true Nigerian agenda.
He urged his colleagues to be prepared to put in extra hours to make up for time that had already been lost to breaks and recesses, adding that they should demonstrate to Nigerians that they were prepared to fulfil their mandates.
He expressed sadness over the death of no fewer than 55 Nigerian pilgrims to Saudi Arabia as a result of the stampede which claimed the lives of over 700 pilgrims across the world.
The president of the senate also condemned the Sept. 17 military coup in Burkina Faso.
According to him, all threat to democracy in any part of the world must be rooted out as it also constitutes a treat to democracy in other nations.
“This is a monster, which we thought has been wiped off the West African political landscape forever.
“I therefore, commend the prompt response of the leaders of ECOWAS, and in particular, our own President Muhammadu Buhari for unanimously condemning the coup,’’ he said.
He urged all Nigerians to work together to surmount the challenges of insecurity and focus on boosting the economy.