•As Senate confirms Ocheni, Hassan ministers
From Fred Itua, Abuja
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki yesterday told Senate Correspondents that only 11 nominees of President Muhammadu Buhari have been rejected, out of 196, since June, 2015.
He said 185 nominees have been confirmed as well, while 76 petitions have been cleared by the Senate committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions in less than two years.
Saraki made the disclosures during a media briefing to mark this year’s World Press Freedom Day. He pleaded with media practitioners, especially Senate Correspondents, to report the chamber’s activities with fairness.
He said: “I urge you all to look beyond the propaganda that is being sponsored to put down the Senate and judge us based on facts and figures about our genuine performance. These facts and figures are readily available, therefore, judge us by our actions.
“You participate indirectly in our daily plenary, committee and oversight sessions. You are a constant feature around here. So, please, let the public know and understand that this Senate is working for them, and it is people-centred.
“This is why we continue to pass motion after motion, to call attention to critical national issues. We have passed critical laws that will make positive impact on the standard of living and rate of development in our country.
“We investigated key issues that helped expose corruption in high government offices. We have equally treated petitions from people who felt oppressed, but believed the Senate could help them seek redress and get justice, instead of resorting to prolonged litigations.
“In less than two years, this Senate has already cleared 76 petitions. Whereas, the Sixth Senate cleared only six public petitions in four years and the Seventh Senate did 87 petitions in four years.”
Meanwhile, Senate, at about 12:22pm yesterday, confirmed Professor Steven Ikani Ocheni and Suleiman Zarma Hassan as Ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The letter of the duo’s nomination was read on the floor of the Senate on March 29, 2017, with Saraki, presiding on the day.
Before their confirmation, Ocheni and Hassan were questioned by lawmakers on issues bothering on the economy, corruption, poverty reduction, recession and workers’ welfare.
The grilling only lasted for about 30 minutes, after which they were told to take a bow.
Ocheni was nominated more than one year after a former Minister of State for Labour, Mr James Ocholi, died in a ghastly motor accident, along Kaduna-Abuja Road.
Similarly, Hassan is to replace Amina Mohammed, who currently serves as the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN). She resigned in February, while President Muhammadu Buhari was away in the United Kingdom (UK) for a routine medical checkup.
Ocheni, was a lecturer at Kogi State University.