Senators protest exclusion of FCT from ministerial list

By Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

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Senator representing Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, FCT, in the National Assembly, Senator Philip Aduda and his counterpart from Kogi West, Senator Dino Melaye, have protested against the exclusion of Abuja indigenes from the list of ministerial nominees submitted by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The lawmakers also urged President Buhari to appoint a minister among the indigenes to fulfill a constitutional requirement, which says that the FCT shall be treated as one of the states of the Federation.

Senator Aduda was first to protest against the exclusion following a point of Order 43 of the Senate Standing Rules. He further cited Section 299 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), to have mandated the recognition and treatment of the FCT as one of the states of the Federation.

He urged the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, to draw the attention of President Buhari to the problem and ensure that a minister was appointed from the FCT, to guarantee justice, equity and fair play to all the sections of the country in conformity with the provisions of the Constitution on federal character principle.

Senator Philip Aduda

Senator Aduda lamented that the FCT had been marginalised for a long time on issues of ministerial appointment, saying that its been a long time since one Bagudu from Abuja was appointed as a minister. He urged the Senate, as the legislative Assembly to intervene and address the problem.

He said: “Section 299 of the Constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria says that the Abuja shall be treated as if it were one of the states of the Federation.

“Section 147 goes ahead to say that there shall be offices of minister of the government of the Federation as may be established by Mr. President. And Sub-section 3 says that any appointment by Mr. President shall be in conformity with Section 14(3) of the Constitution, which talks about federal character.

“Mr. President, the list for ministers was submitted yesterday, and out of the 43 of them, to the surprise of my constituents and myself, we did not find any nominee from the FCT. And my constituents have asked me to come with a loud voice to say that this National Assembly is the State House of Assembly for the FCT, and as such, they are depending on the National Assembly to help and ensure that there is equity for the people of the FCT.

“Over the years, the FCT has been marginalised in federal appointments. It might interest you to know that some years back, we have had minister for FCT because there has always been this argument that there has never been a minister but I want to say that Bagudu was minister of Interior. He is from the FCT and served under the Federal Government of Nigeria”.

Also, Senator Melaye, cited relevant sections of the Constitution, to support the demand by Senator Aduda, stressing that the matter should be treated as a constitutional concern because the Constitution has provided direction on the issue.

Similarly, Senator Basiru Ajibola (APC Osun Central), in his contribution, said: “I want to read the provision of Section 299. The provisions of this Constitution shall apply to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, as if it were one of the states of the Federation”. 

Nominees examined

In his response, President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, noted that the issue of appointment is purely an Executive responsibility, expressing optimism that President Buhari would take proper and prompt action on the matter.

Among the nominees examined by the Senate include Chibuike Amaechi who served as transport Minister in Buhari’s first tenure, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu who held the position of science and technology Minister and Adamu Adamu, his education ministry counterpart.

Others were former minority Leader of the 8th Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, and other former lawmakers who were all asked to take a bow and go in keeping with the tradition of the parliament.

Emmanuel Ukoh