Nigeria’s Senate begins screening cabinet nominees


Nigeria’s Senate began to screen Acting President Goodluck Jonathan’s nominees for his new cabinet, whose rapid formation would ease political uncertainty in Africa’s most populous nation.

Jonathan last week sent a list of 33 cabinet nominees to the Senate for approval.

Senate President David Mark yesterday read out a further five names also submitted for screening, including respected former junior Finance Minister Remi Babalola.

The upper house of parliament is expected to vote on the nominees before an Easter recess starts on Thursday.

Jonathan sacked all government ministers in Africa’s top energy producer two weeks ago in a bid to assert his authority a month after assuming executive powers in the absence of ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua, who remains too sick to govern.

Former Minister of State for Petroleum Odein Ajumogobia, tipped as a possible oil Minister, and Olusegun Aganga, a London-based executive at Goldman Sachs seen as a contender for a Finance Ministry post, are among the nominees.

Yesterday’s list included four more names from the outgoing cabinet among them former Environment Minister John Odeh and Transport Minister Ibrahim Bio bringing the total number of former ministers to 13.

Nigeria’s cabinet is made up of more than 40 ministers, ministers of state and ministers in the presidency. Jonathan is expected to submit another batch of nominees for Senate approval to complete his new team soon.