Administrative Law

Ministerial Appointments and The Constitutional Requirements

Former President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law a constitutional amendment that mandates newly elected Presidents or Governors to submit the names of cabinet members for ratification within sixty days of being sworn in. The Law aims to shorten the time it takes newly elected Executives to form their cabinet. Section 147 (6) of the Constitution gives the Senate 21 days after the President submits the list to complete the screening of the nominees and either confirm or reject their appointment.

The first batch of the 28 names sent to the Senate was less than the number of states in the Country. The Constitution says clearly you must have one ministerial nominee from each state of the Federation who must be an indigene of that particular state.  President Bola Ahmed Tinubu took the oath of office on the 29th of May. By sending the names of ministerial nominees that are less than the number of states in Nigeria he has not fulfilled or complied with the Constitution because he sent 28 names within the 60 days.

The 1999 Constitution (as amended) preaches justice and equity for all irrespective of tribe, ethnicity, and religion. It’s unconstitutional to share ministerial positions or political offices based on votes or electoral considerations. Democracy is about the people and not political compensation for political loyalty or votes.  Although 45 ministers were sworn in, a total number of 48 ministers were nominated, while three were told to await further screening _ Stella Okotete (Delta) Senator Abubakar Danladi (Taraba), and Mallam Nasir El-rufai (Kaduna).

It’s clear that Kaduna State as of now doesn’t have any nomination for minister; the initial one El-rufai having withdrawn none has been sent to the Senate for replacement. This is a breach of the Constitution as Kaduna State deserves to take its position in the Federal Executive Council (FEC)

 Section14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides that:

          ‘’’The composition of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the Federal Character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in the government or any of its agencies.’’

Similarly, Section 147 (1) (2) (3) of the Constitution states:

        ‘’ There shall be such offices of ministers of the government of the federation as may be established by the president… Any appointment to the office of minister of the Government of the Federation shall if the nomination of any person to such office is confirmed by the senate, be made by the president…              Any appointment under subsection (2) of this section by the President shall be in conformity with section 14 (3) of the constitution, provided that is given effect to the provisions aforementioned the President shall appoint at least one minister from each state, who shall be an indigene of such state’’

Rule of law is doing things the way it ought to be done whether it favors the Government or not. The opposite of the rule of law is when you deploy sentiment, ethnicity or religion to apply the law. The government must be ready to apply, obliged, and respect the rule of law for democracy to thrive in Nigeria.

Eligibility Of Hannatu Musawa As A Minister

It’s against the NYSC (National Youth Service Corps) Act for any Corps member to pick up any government appointment until the one-year service is over. The NYSC Act stipulates that nobody would be legally employed or offer themselves for employment without doing the service and presenting the certificate or would have been exempted and had the certificate of exemption. By virtue of Section 2 of the NYSC Act, a person called upon to serve in the service corps is under an obligation to serve for a continuous period of one year from the date specified in the call-up letter.

Section 4 (9) of the NYSC by laws (Revised 2011) provides as follows:

                      Every member shall not take part in partisan politics. Any member who takes part in partisan politics is liable to extension of service for a period not less than three months without pay’’

Any person who is disqualified by law to be a lawmaker is also disqualified to be appointed as a minister. The Constitution stipulates the same qualification and disqualification in the two offices. Section 147 (5) of the Constitution provides that no person shall be appointed as a minister of the Government of the Federation unless he is qualified for election as a member of the House of Representatives. Any person who did not participate in the NYSC is not qualified to be a member of the House of Representatives.  In the same vein, a person who has not completed the compulsory one-year Youth service is not competent to be appointed a Minister in Nigeria since the constitution has prescribed the same qualification and disqualification for election into the House of Representatives and appointment into the post of a Minister.   

It’s important to note that the appointment of ministers or commissioners is typically a political process that involves considerations such as political affiliations. According to the NYSC by-laws corps members are prohibited from engaging in partisan politics or joining any political party during the service year. The aim of this restriction is to maintain the neutrality and non-partisanship of the NYSC program. Corps members are expected to focus on their primary assignment which involves community development, education, healthcare, and other areas of national service.

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About Hassan Sadisu Iman

HASSAN SADISU IMAM is a Lawyer who graduated from the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Kaduna, Nigeria. He has a keen interest in Technology and Innovation Law. He has authored many articles on diverse contemporary legal issues; He can be reached via; Tel: 09023945495