The Senate, on Wednesday, screened and confirmed the seven ministerial nominees whose names were sent last week by President Muhammadu Buhari for confirmation as Minister-designates.
The screening exercise which started at about 12 noon lasted till 4:37 p.m.
Those screened and confirmed as minister-designates include Henry Ikoh (Abia), Umana Okon Umana (Akwa-Ibom), and Ekumankama Nkama (Ebonyi).
Others are Goodluck Nana Opiah (Imo), Umar Ibrahim El-Yakub (Kano), Ademola Adegoroye (Ondo), and Udi Odum (Rivers).
While fielding questions from lawmakers, the first nominee, Ikechukwu Ikoh, said in tackling the issue of job creation, efforts must be made to grant operational licenses to operators of modular refineries in the country.
Another nominee from Akwa-Ibom State, the Managing Director of the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority, Umana Okon Umana, underscored the need for Nigeria to step up its production capacity so as to boost foreign exchange earnings and reduce the country’s reliance on importation.
Another nominee, Ekumankama Nkama, on his part, admonished young Nigerians to tap into new areas of investment, so as to foster self-reliance and productivity, particularly in the country’s trade sector.
On the lingering strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Nkama said if given the Ministry of Labour and Empowerment portfolio, he would liaise between the Federal Government and ASUU to reach a compromise, while also urging the National Assembly to provide additional funding for the educational sector, so as to meet some of the needs of the union.
He said, “There will be the need for compromise. For a very long time, ASUU has been sticking to its guns that all the agreements reached earlier must be implemented. And we know that from the same source – the same national purse – there are several contending interests seeking attention.
“My advise will be that the Federal Government and ASUU will have to come to a compromise, and through this, we would be able to solve the issue of the ASUU strike once and for all. I know the importance of budgetary provision.
“I want to appeal to the Senate that when the budget is being made for the coming year, there will be adequate provision for the education sector so that some of these needs that the ASUU members are asking for as a union will be met.”
Lending his voice to the need for an end to the ASUU strike, another nominee, Ademola Adegoroye, said the action by the union is against the interest of Nigerian students, adding that more effort must be made by the government to find a lasting solution to the same.
A former member of the House of Representatives, Goodluck Opiah, who was also screened was asked by the chamber to take a bow, in accordance with its tradition of extending such privilege to past members of the National Assembly.
Umar Ibrahim El-Yakub, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives), said when sworn in as a member of the Federal Executive Council, he would sustain and consolidate on the harmonious working relationship between the Executive and National Assembly.