The Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Femi Adesina, was on Channels TV, yesterday, where he fielded questions on the list of Ministers. Adesina affirmed that Nigerians should not judge the ministerial nominees whose screening by the Nigerian Senate begins on Tuesday, on the basis of their chronological age, but on their mental alertness. He also explained that President Buhari is not going to be designated as Petroleum Minister. Excerpts:
A lot of Nigerians are asking when will the President submit the full ministerial list and when will the remainder of that list come to the Senate?
Well, if we look at how ministerial lists were presented in the past , they did not come in one fell swoop . They came in batches. The figures may have been different. In this one, we have 21, in the other ones, they may have had more than 30, but they didn’t come in one batch. And there is no law that says it should come in one batch.
So, when will the second tranche of the list come?
That depends on the President, we can assume that it won’t take long.
You have asked us to assume now , is the list almost getting ready because the Senators are saying that without the second list, they won’t allow the full screening process to be concluded?
No, they didn’t say that. Somebody raised it, but it was not a consensus of the whole house.
Ok, let me go into some other matter, people are saying that the representation of nominees and their states, for example , Mrs Aminat Mohammed, is she from Kaduna or Gombe?
The list was read by the Senate president and I guess that question should be directed at him because he is the one that will say who is representing which state. It is not a question that should come to me.
Why I’m asking is because the Senate actually gave us a copy of the letter and did not actually include the states that the nominees come from. That’s why some people have petitioned and they also need clarification of where she comes from…
(Cuts in) That’s why there is going to be a screening process and I believe that is one of the things that will come up during screening.
A lot of people have asked about the issue of technocrats and lots of Nigerians are saying that there are old hands coming to play and there is no youth representation. Is the President concerned about Nigerians’ agitation on representation?
These people who have been nominated are qualified and are Nigerians. Talking of age, there is a saying that “age does not matter. It does not mind, if you don’t mind it.” I don’t think that age is an issue. And talking of age, you should rather talk about mental and chronological age. If you have a chronological age of 30, which makes you a youth, and mental age is not at par, what do we gain? Nothing.
And you may have a chronological age of 68, which is the age of the oldest of the nominees, if that nominee now has a mental age of 15 or 20, what do we gain? We must rather talk of the mental age rather than the chronological age. It is not the chronological age that matters as long as that person has what he is bringing to the table.
The average age of the 21 names is 53, do you think that is healthy enough?
There is nothing wrong with that…
When we talk about youth participation, and only 14 per cent of women on that list, do you think this is fair enough on the womenfolk?
God himself is ageless, so you can’t be talking of whether someone is old or not. Talking about women, yes, three women in this list ,15 yet to come, if all the 15 are now women, what would you have to say? Just be sure that the President is mindful of fair representation in the country and he will do what is needful.
Alright, we will wait and of course, you will come to talk to us then? But tell me, is the President still going to be the Minister of Petroleum?
He is not going to be designated as Minister but will supervise the Ministry. When former President Olusegun Obasanjo while in office supervised that ministry for 6 years, was he called a petroleum Minister? No, he was not. President is going to supervise and maybe, he would have Minister of State to work along with him. I daresay, he has all it takes to supervise that ministry having been oil minister for 3 and half years in the past.
Tell me, we are talking about pruning the number of ministries and people are saying, is there a possibility of a cut down of ministries? How many ministries are we expecting President Muhammadu Buhari to have?
President Buhari would respect the constitution. And the constitution says Ministers must be appointed from each state and that means there must be minimum of 36 ministers. He would respect that.
Did the President actually consult the state governors especially those from the All Progressives Congress (APC) before he brought out the list?
Well, remember in the past, the President had said when the governors were appointing commissioners in their states, he never interfered, so he didn’t expect them to interfere in the choice of his ministers. That was the original position and then later, he came back to say when he had his list ready that he was going to run it by the governors, that is the position. I guess there must have been some consultations but it does not mean that the position of any government will be sacrosanct on the nominee.