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Keyamo To Buhari: It’s Unconstitutional To Appoint Minister Of State
The outgoing Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, SAN, Wednesday told President Muhammadu Buhari that it is an aberration to appoint a Minister of State.
Keyamo stated this in his speech at the valedictory session presided over by President Buhari to mark the end of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, under his (Buhari) administration, at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Minister of State, who thanked President Buhari for enriching his Curriculum Vitae, through the appointment, noted that some other Ministers of State, have been grumbling and unable to be bold and speak out.
He said it would be difficult to assess the individual performances of the Ministers of State since their discretion was shackled under the discretion of the Ministers as any original ideas developed by a Minister of State are subject to clearance by another colleague in Cabinet before they can sail through for consideration by Council.
The prepared text reads thus: “Mr. President, you first appointed me as Minister of State in the Ministry Niger Delta Affairs in August, 2019 and you later redeployed me as Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
“Today, I cannot find the words to express the depth of my gratitude to you for finding me worthy, out of over two hundred million Nigerians, to be nominated and subsequently appointed to serve as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. My curriculum vitae has been greatly enhanced – forever.
“From my very humble beginnings in a small dusty town in Delta State where I was born and raised by my struggling parents, all the way to the Council Chambers at the Presidential Villa where I had the honour and privilege to participate weekly in decision-making for my country in the last four years, it has been like a fairy tale. I give God all the glory.
“What I am about to say, therefore, is not and should not be construed as an indication of ingratitude. Far from it. What I am about to say is just my own little contribution to our constitutional development as a relatively young democracy and to aid future governments to optimize the performance of those they appoint as Ministers.
“Mr. President, the concept or designation of “Minister of State” is a constitutional aberration and is practically not working for many so appointed. Successive governments have come and gone and many who were appointed as Ministers of State have not spoken out at a forum such as this because of the risk of sounding ungrateful to the Presidents who appointed them. However, like I said earlier, this is not ingratitude.
“As a private citizen, I am on record to have gone to court a number of times to challenge unconstitutional acts of governments for the sake of advancing our constitutional democracy, so it will be out of character for me to have gone through government and be carried away by the pomp of public office and forget my role as a member of the Inner Bar and my self-imposed role over the years as a crusader for democracy and constitutionalism.”
Supporting his position with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), Keyamo said, “Mr. President, I crave your indulgence to explain this constitutional conundrum of “Minister of State”. Sections 147 and 148 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), deal with the appointments and responsibilities of Ministers of the Federation. The said sections state as follows:
“(1) There shall be such offices of Ministers of the Government of the Federation as may be established by the President.
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“(2) Any appointment to the office of Minister of the Government of the Federation shall, if the nomination of any person to such office is confirmed by the Senate, be made by the President.
(3) Any appointment under subsection (2) of this section by the President shall be in conformity with the provisions of section 14(3) of this Constitution:- provided that in giving effect to the provisions aforesaid the President shall appoint at least one Minister from each State, who shall be an indigene of such State.”
“(1) The President may, in his discretion, assign to the Vice-President or any Minister of the Government of the Federation responsibility for any business of the Government of the Federation, including the administration of any department of government.”
“Furthermore, the 7th Schedule to the 1999 Constitution provides for the Oath of Office to which each Minister must subscribe. There are no different Oaths for “Minister” and “Ministers of State”. They all take the same Oath of Office.
“In addition to the above, the Ministers-designate appear before the Senate and are grilled and cleared AS MINISTERS, not as Ministers in some instances and Ministers of State in some other instances. It is at the point of assignment of portfolios that successive Presidents then reclassified some as “Ministers of State.”
He contended that though the President has the constitutional powers to assign portfolio to his appointees, he said that such appointment must be in line with the constitutional provision.
He said, “Some may want to justify this by saying the President is given the discretion by the Constitution to assign whatever responsibility(ies) he likes to Ministers. Yes, I concede Mr. President can do that, but not by a designation different from that prescribed by the Constitution.
“Simply put, it is akin to the President assigning responsibilities to the office of the Vice-President and re-designating that office as “Deputy President” under our present Constitution. That is clearly impossible. Why then should that of the Ministers be different?
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“What is more, Ministers are appointed pursuant to Section 147(3) of the 1999 Constitution to represent each State of the Federation. Therefore, Ministers sit in Cabinet as the eye of Mr. President in each State of the Federation. It is therefore against the intendment of the drafters of our Constitution for a representative of a State to be reclassified as against another representative of another State.
“The Schedules of Duties of Ministers and Ministers of State that intend to cure some of these anomalies hardly help the issues. Firstly, the Schedules of Duties are observed more in breach by the Permanent Secretaries and Directors who really cannot be expected to serve two masters.
“And in any case, many of the roles of both Ministers are so ambiguous that the bureaucrats would always interpret them to satisfy the ones they see as the “Senior Ministers” or “main Ministers” for fear of being persecuted by them.
“Secondly, parts of the Schedules of Duties seem to suggest that the Ministers can delegate functions to the Ministers of State. This is a constitutional impossibility. It is only Mr. President that can delegate Presidential powers as one cannot delegate what he does not have (delegatus non potest delegare). In any case, how can someone who took the same Oath of Office with another delegate functions to that other?
“Thirdly, the Schedules of Duties leave so many gaping holes that bring conflicts between the Ministers and Ministers of State. In addition, the provision that “Ministers of State” cannot present Memos in Council, except with the permission of the Minister, is another anomaly. It means the discretion of the Minister of State is subsumed in the discretion of the Minister, yet both of them represent different States in Cabinet.
“It also follows that it would be difficult to assess the individual performances of the Ministers of State since their discretion is shackled under the discretion of the Ministers. Original ideas developed by a Minister of State are subject to clearance by another colleague in Cabinet before they can sail through for consideration by Council. The drafters of our Constitution obviously did not intend this.”
He argued that the unconstitutional development has led to having ministers that are idle or redundant.
“As a result, many Ministers of State are largely redundant, with many going to the office for symbolic purpose and just to while away the time. Files are passed to them to treat only at the discretion of the other Minister and the Permanent Secretary. Yet, the Ministers of State will receive either praise or condemnation for the successes or failures of such Ministries.
“I understand that when this practice first surfaced in the First Republic, it was used as a contraption to give a semblance of “Government of National Unity”, when in actual fact no “real power” was ceded to the opposition members co-opted into government who were mostly designated as the Ministers of State, so as to keep them in check under the leadership of the ruling Party’s Ministers.
“But, over time the custom has come to stay and now it has been established as a norm, even regarding Ministers from the same ruling Party. In fact, one political absurdity that has emerged from this is that some Ministers of State won more votes from their States for the party in power than the “main Minister”.
On the way forward, he said, “Many Ministerial Retreats have been held to try and resolve the issues between Ministers and Ministers of State. President Obasanjo held four of such Retreats, with the last one holding at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos, from 23rd to 25th February, 2001. Yet, the problems persisted.
“Mr. President, unknown to many successive Presidents and the general public, these conflicts gravely affect the optimal performance of Governments. What is the way forward?
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“Obviously, the argument that two Ministers are cramped into some Ministries in order not to unnecessarily proliferate Ministries and therefore save Government’s money is no longer tenable. This is because Government does not need any extra infrastructure or more money to maintain all Senior 36 Ministers or even a bit more appointed as is now the custom.
“This is because the present Ministers and Ministers of State have their separate offices, cars, security personnel and personal aides. So, what is the point?
“There are enough Permanent Secretaries within the system to be assigned to each Minister, or in the least, one Permanent Secretary can serve two Ministers. Since the Schedules of Duties of both Ministers already reflect the broad Mandates of the Ministries, the Ministers can be named in line with those Schedules of Duties, instead of continuing with this unconstitutional arrangement. For instance, there is no reason why we cannot have a Minister of Labour and another Minister of Employment.
“In my case, whilst the Schedule of my colleague had to do more with Labour and Productivity, mine had to do more with Employment. The Directorates in my Ministry that were under my office would then be fully under the Minister of Employment, without any double loyalty to the Minister of Labour and Productivity.
“We can also have a Minister of Trade and another Minister of Investment. We can have a Minister of Education (Tertiary) and another Minister of Education (Primary and Secondary); we can have a Minister of Mines and another Minister of Steel; we can have a Minister of Works and another Minister of Housing and so on and so forth.
“In all of these, no extra infrastructure is needed to sustain this suggested arrangement. The present infrastructure and present personnel in the Ministries can very well sustain it. It will be at no extra cost to government. This is preferable than successive governments continuing with this present unconstitutional arrangement.
“Finally, I want to place it on record again that Mr. President gave me maximum support as his Minister to function optimally. So, this treatise is not a personal complaint. This is just a respectful recommendation for record purposes and for the sake of posterity. It is also intended to correct an anomaly that has existed for ages.”
NigeriaElection2023: There’s No President-elect, INEC Decision Won’t Stand – Pa Adebanjo
Afenifere leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, has claimed that there is no President-elect in Nigeria, insisting that the decision by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to declare the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu winner of the 2023 presidential election, will not stand.
Pa Adebanjo is one of the elder statesmen who publicly declared support for the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, LP, Peter Obi, on the ground that the people of the South East should be allowed to have a shot at the presidency for equity and justice to reign supreme.
The INEC declared Bola Tinubu winner of the February 25th, 2023 presidential election amidst an alleged wide range of irregularities across the country majorly due to the inability of the electoral umpire to keep its promise of deploying technology in the election.
While the BVAS failed in many states, some Governors were said to have hijacked the election and suppressed the will of the people, especially in Rivers State and Lagos State.
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Appearing on Arise Television on Friday, Adebanjo said INEC’s decision on Saturday’s polls, as regarding the presidential election result, will not stand.
“I listened to the Chairman of INEC when Dino Melaye told him to suspend, not cancel the collation, citing a lot of irregularities so that he can correct them. He said ‘no I promise, if you let me complete this exercise, I’ll review it.
“As for the Chairman, those of us who know him know that he has not been the man that he should be. He’s a great disappointment. This is not the first time he would be disappointing Lagos people. In 2019, he deceived us and now he’s done it again thinking that Nigerian people are fools.
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“And I said it before in this election nobody can Babangida us. It was a daylight robbery. The whole country supported you to amend the electoral law to ensure it is is transmitted by electoral law and at the time of the election you came back to fight us. What a shame. I’m only sorry for the country.
“I’m only sorry for the youths. But I warned you before, this government is a disaster… It’s a disaster that God will help us get rid of. There’s no President-Elect at all. It’s just a sham that will be removed in due course. We’re all living witnesses to it. Why won’t we follow the law provided for the election?”
Wike: Atiku Now PDP’s Divider-in-chief, Incapable of Winning, Tinubu Mocks Opposition Party
Presidential Candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has solicited mass pity for the Peoples Democratic Party PDP candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, saying the latter’s presidential ambition is fast slipping away due to his altercation with Rivers state Governor, Nyesom Wike.
He said, instead of being a unifier, Atiku is now a divider-in-chief, and advised him to kiss his ill-fated presidential bid, a goodbye.
“Once again, another bid for the presidency of our country by former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar is slipping away. This is unraveling before our very eyes even before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) blows the whistle for electioneering campaign”, Tinubu said in a statement by the Director, Media and Publicity of the
APC Presidential Campaign Council, Mr Bayo Onanuga.
Noting that Atiku’s PDP is in disarray, Tinubu added that the signs are just too ominous for the Waziri Adamawa, especially with the report by the Economic Intelligence Unit predicting yet another trashing for him in the forthcoming polls.
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Tinubu said; “After violating his party’s code for power rotation between the north and south and grabbing the PDP ticket without a modicum of sensibilities about our national ethos, Alhaji Atiku is now faced with the karma of his inordinate ambition.
“The PDP has imploded in a battle of attrition, the result of which is predictable. The ongoing fraticidal war where a faction of the party being led by the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike is engaging Atiku in a fight to finish has undermined any momentum the PDP candidate had hoped to build. With further loss of confidence in PDP by its own members who can not find any redeeming feature in the fast disappearing party, it is crystal clear that Atiku’s latest bid for the Nigeria’s top job has hit the rocks.
“A pillar of Atiku’s campaign is the claim of being a unifier and nationalist. That bogus claim has now been discredited, even within his party as the disaffected members cry for justice and inclusivity.
“Instead of the perennially running and perennially failing candidate to offer them some sop, he has rebuffed them, pleading that he could not grant their request for justice.
“Surely a man who cannot resolve a genuine dispute among his party members, who cannot forge an entente among them, cannot be expected to unify our country.
“Instead of being a unifier, Atiku is now a divider-in-chief”.
The APC standard bearer added that Atiku’s campaign on this score is heading for a still birth, just as some of his programmes have been found to be nothing new, as they are already being implemented by the APC administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The former Vice President created the crisis for himself, by pushing the fallacy that only a northern candidate can win the presidency for his party, despite the open record that southerners, when they network with their northern compatriots can also win the election.
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“Former leaders, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan demonstrated this in 1999, 2003 and 2011.
“As a campaign, we can only pity former Vice President Atiku for the self-inflicted injury he invited unto himself. Chinua Achebe, the very accomplished novelist in one of his classics, Arrow of God, wrote that a man who brought ant-infested faggots into the homestead should not grumble when lizards begin to pay him a visit.
“Atiku brought this unto himself and we dare say he can kiss his ill-fated presidential bid goodbye”, Tinubu declared.
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