Nigeria’s lower chamber at the National Assembly has described members of the Federal Executive Council and Ministers appointed by Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as unfit to occupy their ministerial positions.
TThe declaration followed the non-appearance of the two ministers at the session on the revival of the moribund Ajaokuta Steel Company holding in Abuja.
The House of Representatives at its plenary session on Thursday, March 1, 2018 passed a vote of no confidence on the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi and the Minister of State in the same ministry, Abubakar Bwari.
The implication of the vote of no confidence means the call on the president to relieve them of their ministerial portfolios, according to legislatives procedure and extant laws.
The legislative house described them as unfit to occupy the ministerialpositions, adding that their non-appearance was not only contempt to the House but an act of executive recklessness.
It is revealed that prior to the summit, the House had through a letter dated 16th February, 2018 invited Kayode Fayemi, Minister of Solid Mineral and Bawa Bwari to the sectoral debate slated for Thursday, March 1, 2018, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. with special focus on the steel sector, particularly on how to revive the moribund Ajaokuta steel company.
However, the ministers through a letter signed by Abdulkadir Muazu, Permanent Secretary of Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals, dated February 27, 2018, with reference No: MMSD/S/BUDG2017, explained that the ministers had prior official engagements.
“The Honourable Minister has prior diplomatic schedule engagement in preparation to the focal labs of ERGP relating to the Mining Sectors while the Minister of State will be leading the Ministry’s delegation to Canada to attend the PDAC Conference.”
Speaker Yakubu Dogara unsatisfied by the reply from the ministry had observed in his letter that the sectoral debate would have provided opportunity for officials of Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals to debunk the widespread allegations that the proposed concessionaires had tied their hands.
“In your letter under reference, you said the two ministers in the Ministry would not honour the invitation due to prior commitments. According to the letter, ‘The Honourable Minister has prior diplomatic schedule engagement.’ I am further directed to respectfully state that the House considers the attendance of one of the Ministers in the Ministry of crucial importance to its legislative intervention in the steel sector to ensure timely completion of the Ajaokuta Steel Plant, and consequently requests you to reconsider the apparent boycott of the House’s sectoral debate.
“We think that the debate presents an opportunity for the Ministry to debunk the widespread allegations that the proposed concessionaires have tied the hands of the Ministry.
“We are worried that the apparent boycott of the session by your Ministry can only lend credence to the allegations that the top echelon of your ministry is deeply conflicted in the matter.
“In view of the cordial relationship that has always existed between the two Honourable Ministers and the Speaker and the institution of the House of Representatives, we urge you to take all reasonable measures to reinforce this relationship more so that the session is widely advertised and will go on with or without your participation,” the Speaker wrote.
Meanwhile, the embattled Minister Fayemi in a statement signed by his Special Assistant, Olayinka Oyebode, said there was more to the action of the legislators than meets the eyes, describing it as most unwarranted and unfortunathe
The statement reads: “The attention of the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, and the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Hon. Abubakar Bawa Bwari, has been drawn to the “Vote of No Confidence” reportedly passed on them by members of the House of Representatives following their inability to attend the House’s Sectoral Debate on Iron and Steel Sector on Thursday, March 1, 2018.
“While the offices of the two ministers have been inundated with countless media enquiries regarding their absence shortly after the pronouncement, it is important to state unequivocally that the inability of the two ministers to attend the debate was duly communicated to the leadership of the House in two separate letters. One then wonders why the House members took such a draconian stance against the two ministers who have very cordial relationships with the National Assembly.
“It is rather unfair for the House members to categorise the ministers’ absence as “boycott” when they were adequately notified.
“Tolerance and moderation are essential ingredients in public service engagement. In this particular case, they appear to be in short supply and the ministry believes that there is more than meets the eye on this matter.
“After all, the ministers are always willing to engage the honourable House and its leadership at all times. It is on record that Minister Fayemi was the first minister to address the sectoral debate in 2016 and the Ajaokuta Steel Complex was extensively addressed on that occasion.
”Subsequently, the House Committees on Privatisation and Public Petitions held special sessions on Ajaokuta and the Minister of State, Hon Bawa Bwari, addressed the members on those two occasions.
“Given this past record, today’s action is most unwarranted and unfortunate.”