In an unusual step, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday personally delivered to President Muhammadu Buhari, a list of nominees cleared by the Senate for appointment as ministers, breaking with past protocol that required presidential aides to transmit the letter.
In the past, the special advisers to the president on National Assembly submitted names of nominees to the Senate, and back to the president.
Mr. Buhari was first to ignore that procedure this time, choosing to send his list through his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, than his senior special assistant on Senate, Ita Enang.
On Tuesday, after weeks of ministerial screening, Mr. Saraki submitted the list to Mr. Buhari at the presidential villa.
The two men later shook hands and posed for photographs.
Mr. Buhari and the Senate president had not enjoyed the best of relationships since Mr. Saraki’s emergence as senate leader, against his party’s directive.
The Senate president is also currently facing charges of alleged false declaration of asset and corruption. He dismissed the charges as politically motivated.
Fielding questions from journalists after a closed-door meeting with the president, Mr. Saraki said the quality of ministerial nominees submitted by the president, made it easy for the Senate to screen and confirm them.
“You noticed that in some cases we delayed the number of one or two, it is all part of politics, of behind the scene, but at the end of the day we finished with them, that is all about give and take and eventually I am happy with what the senators have done,” he said.
He said the stage was set for the new government to kick off.
On concerns that some ministers may not be given portfolios, the Senate president said that was nothing new, as some could be ministers of states.
The important thing, he said, was being in the cabinet and being part of the government.
He noted that the country had more pressing issues like declining revenues, the challenges of trying to boost revenue and create jobs.
On why he personally delivered the list to the president, Mr. Saraki said he had other issues to discuss with Mr. Buhari.
He denied that the issue of his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal came up.
Receiving the list, Mr, Buhari reaffirmed his determination to block leakages and cut spending in the face of financial crisis. He said not all the 36 ministers would head ministries.
According to him, the Constitution said there must be one member of the cabinet from all the states but did not say he must have 36 ministries.
Referring to criticisms that trailed his recent statements while in India on the true state of the Nigerian economy, he said though accused of giving bad publicity and scaring away investors from the country, investors knew better.
“Any investor who is interested in investing in Nigeria will seem to know more about the economy more than ourselves. So when I come and tell the truth about the position of the economy of the country, I am going out looking for investors,” he said.
“But I am confirming to them that we are truthful, that we need them to come and help us help ourselves by getting in industries, manufacturing and services.
“They know our needs. The economy of human resources, I believe will make them eventually come and help us,” he said.