By Jacob Ogunseye
Moods of Nigerians over the screening of ministerial nominees changed as the 8th Senate turn things around in their second day of the exercise. The first day brought no excitement to Nigerians as there was nothing new on the table from what we were used to. Since the advent of the democracy in 1999, the same mode of screening has been operating. Nominees come to the upper chamber and few questions were asked and in some occasions, as we witnessed in the case of former Senators Chris Ngige and Aisha Al-Hassan, no question was asked to access their credibility all because they are former colleagues. So even if they are intellectually deficient to administrate a ministry, their former position as a senator has overridden the deficiencies.
As we can all attest, the gestures offered to former colleagues in the senate were ignored when nominees like the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the state owned Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Ibe Kachikwu and the former governor of Lagos State, Mr Babatunde Fashola. Of course, the two nominees stepped in, they explained issues to the senate, and questions thrown to them were tackled. They literarily became teachers to the one hundred and eight sitting senators and others who thronged the chamber to witness the exercise. But beyond, since the exercise was beamed through internet and relayed live by media houses, it became an open discussions on the social media as the name Fashola once top the trend on global scale.
Leaving my house to meet a friend in the city, I bumped into a long time friend who, just like me, love and have interest in Nigeria and her politics, after exchanging pleasantries, I asked him on his assessment of the screening exercise of the ministerial nominees, his answer was quick and painstaking, “Jacob, is there anything new?” He asked. Do you watch Fashola and Kachikwu’s presentation? I asked back. “Yes … I watched everything; ‘with the down in the mouth’ it is……. He responded. “Honestly, these two guys made my day”, said me. “Jacob, stop that, Fashola is a charade and overrated politician, his answers on certain question were unsatisfactory, didn’t you know?” How would you defend the reckless spending on his personal website? Are you satisfied with the explanations offered for removing Nigerians from his domain?
At this point, I began to reason along with John, whom we have ignored our ethnic orientations to jell as confidants. He wouldn’t stop there, the next question he asked was, “Jacob, listen to me, If Diezani Allison-Madueke has offered similar explanation for her alleged mismanagement of public fund, you guys would have break the same social media where you are celebrating a clone today”. “I have nothing against Fashola as a person, but making him an hero after a clear case of corruption is not acceptable, let’s be candid, I have visited the so called website, as an IT specialist, I look at the site map, there is no basis to justify the cost.” He continued.
At the end, we both agreed that Fashola’s tenure as the governor of the countyr’s most cosmopolitan city was monumental and memorable; the blunders of his administration should not be sacrificed on the altar of change mantra. He is going to be a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, spending such on similar project should secure him a jail term. Few years ago, we all asked Mrs Stella Oduah, a former minister to explain the purchase of two cars for over N200m, we asked her to be prosecuted for such reckless spending. Why are we celebrating such in this scenario? As for me, the performances of Mr Babatunde Fashola as governor were unparalleled but he need to know that mistakes were made and lessons must be learned.