…Urges FG to enlighten business community on benefits of AFCTA
Tunde Opalana, Abuja
Expectations of millions of Nigerians that President Muhammadu Buhari will hit the ground of his second term in office running with the appointment of his cabinet ministers was dashed on Thursday as the Senate denied receiving the ministerial list.
The Senate revealed on Thursday that it is not in custody of names of nominees for ministerial appointment by the President.
This is contrary to the hope raised by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday that President Buhari may forward ministerial list to the Senate before the end of this week.
Senate Ad – hoc Committee Chairman on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Adedayo Adeyeye disclosed during a chat with the Senate press corps that the chamber is not in possession of any ministerial list.
Adeyeye said senators are anxious to work on the ministerial nominee list and screen all nominees immediately names of nominees were presented by the President who has the constitutional duty to do so.
Adeyeye said: “We cannot keep the list, if the list is transmitted to the President of the Senate, it will be read immediately. We are too eager; like I have told you we want to hit the ground running.
“This is an activity that is not within our control and there is nothing we can do about it. Like I said here two or three days ago, this matter is not within the control of the Senate.
“We cannot generate the list on our own; the constitution does not permit us to do that.
“The constitution has assigned responsibility to various part of government, and it is the prerogative of the executive to nominate ministers which will then be confirmed by the Senate.
“Until that duty is undertaken by the executive there is nothing we can do about that. Whether we are hopeful or not is neither here nor there.”
In another development, the Senate has urged the Federal Government to enlighten the Nigerian business community to leverage on the immense benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCTA) agreement.
It also charged the Federal Government to be the main driving force for the success of Nigeria’s membership by ensuring that policies and programmes are in large part consistent with the mission and vision of the agreement.
In addition, the Senate called on the government to continue its current policy of improving national infrastructure such as electricity, roads and other basic necessities in order to bring about reduction in the cost of production and thus make products produced in Nigeria globally competitive.
The upper chamber went ahead to commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his strong political and economic will in accepting to sign the agreement in spite of earlier misgivings which have been put to rest by the Presidential Technical Committee on the matter.
These decisions followed a motion sponsored by Sen. Barau Jibrin (Kano North) and 44 others at plenary on Thursday.
The Senate was delighted that after the long expectation, President Buhari at the 12th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union in Niamey, Niger Republic signed the agreement to formally become a member of AFCTA.
Leading the motion, Sen. Jibrin said signing the agreement has ended the heightened expectations of Nigerians on the desirability or otherwise of the country’s membership of the continental body.
Jibrin expressed delight that the country’s membership of AFCTA came into existence in March 2018 following the adoption of the phase 1 (one) of the agreement by Heads of State and government at their 10th Extraordinary Summit in Kigali, Rwanda.
He said Nigeria declined to sign the agreement in Kigali because of the agitations and apprehensions by the private sector in Nigeria on the premise that membership of the AFCTA would make Nigeria a dumping ground for goods and services from other African countries.
Sen. Jibrin noted that the consent of Nigeria followed the recommendations of the Presidential committee set up to make wider consultations on the benefits or otherwise of Nigeria’s membership.