On Tuesday, during Malam Nasir El-Rufai’s confirmation hearing on the Senate floor, senators from Kaduna State, all of whom are PDP members, showed their support for the former governor of the state’s nomination.
As a result of a petition that followed his nomination on Thursday of last week, when the Ministerial list was released by the Senate President, Godswill Obot Akpabio, El-Rufai was named as number three to be screened by the parliamentarians with his colleagues amid anxiety and uncertainty.
The protest against El-Rufai’s nomination at the National Assembly Mopol gate by some state residents who claimed the nominee, who is the outgoing governor and a senior member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit at the Federal High Court in Abuja over an alleged N32 billion fraud, served to exacerbate the agitation.
Additionally, they claimed that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, or EFCC, was prosecuting him because it was given permission to do so by Hon. Justice Binta Nyako in a suit with the case number FHC/ABJ/CS/60/09 on November 30, 2019.
Despite this, El-Rufai’s showing on Tuesday could be viewed as a “fair deal” for him because Senators from his hometown backed him despite their political disagreements.
El-Rufai’s supporter, Senator Khalid Ibrahim Mustapha of Kaduna North Senatorial District, praised him for his prior work as an official and emphasized that there was no need to screen him if his pedigree was to be taken into account.
He said that the nominee’s citizenship as a resident of Kaduna State was the reason he supported him.
He encouraged Senators to give El-Rufai permission to bow and go like the Chamber had previously done for some of his colleagues.
“Thank you, Mr. President, honorable colleagues,” he said. I’m Khalid Ibrahim, the senatorial candidate for Kaduna North. I would like to congratulate the candidate on his appointment as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Mr. Senate President, Honorable Members, I stand to provide my support to this outstanding candidate. The candidate is a true citizen of Kaduna State and a native of that state. He was screened and cleared when he appeared before this august chamber sometime in 2003, and he is a person who is well-known both domestically and globally.
He has the potential to carry on being a good minister. In this regard, I want to implore the Senate to take this into consideration as well as the precedent that was set for two of his colleagues yesterday, namely the two former governors who appeared before us and were asked to take a bow and leave without being questioned due to their illustrious backgrounds.
We all know the nominee is capable, so I ask the Senate to tell him to take a bow and go notwithstanding the issues that were posed.
In the Nigerian legislative system, the Senate President or the person presiding would typically give three Senators from the State of the nominee an opportunity to speak in favor of or against the nomination before Senators from other States have a chance to speak.
However, Senator Sunday Karimi of the Kogi West Senatorial District interrupted the flood of praise from other senators by revealing that there was a petition against the candidate, which he had requested the Senate’s permission to address. The chamber went into a frenzy about the development.
Thank you, Mr. President. I’m Senator Sunday Karimi, and I’m from the Kogi West Senatorial District. Nasir El-Rufai, a former governor, performed admirably in each of the positions in which he served. Your record is clear in the BPE, the FCT as a Minister, and your two terms as governor of Kaduna State, but I have a compelling petition against you that raises concerns about the safety, harmony, and cohesion of the country.
“And I believe that petition needs to be taken into account in addition to this screening procedure.”
Deputy Senate President Senator Jibrin Barau issued a calm request and requested the nominee to address the chamber before bowing and leaving amid the commotion.
While El-Rufai was being screened on Tuesday, Senator Lawal Usman of Kaduna Central Senatorial District kept his mouth shut. According to information obtained by DAILY POST on Wednesday, Usman supported Senator Khalid’s stance.
Speaking with an aide who requested anonymity, he disclosed that the three Senators, despite their political differences, decided to support the candidate because they believed it was in the best interests of the State.
After multiple trips to his office, Senator Sunday Katung of Kaduna South Senatorial District was unavailable to speak with Daily Post, but one of his aides said he might not want to because the confirmation process was still ongoing.
A week after receiving the list from President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Senate completed the screening of the first batch of ministerial nominations on Wednesday. The final group of new nominees has been sent for screening and confirmation.