It is the norm at this ministerial screening session for Senate President Ahmad Lawan to ask senators from the nominees’ constituency to say a word or two, late on.
Oftentimes, the senators heap plaudits on the nominee from their states and make a watery case for why he or she should be asked to “take a bow and go”.
As Fashola answered the last question bordering on the poor state of roads in the Northeast, Lawan did the honours.
“Distinguished Senators Oluremi Tinubu, Adeola Solomon Olamilekan and Adebayo Osinowo…you have the floor”, Lawan stuttered.
All the aforementioned senators are from Fashola’s State of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital and most populous city.
Senator Remi Tinubu takes on ministerial nominee from her state Fashola (Guardian)
Mrs. Tinubu stood up to speak. “Thank you Mr. President and I believe that on behalf of my colleagues..and I know they are going to say something…to thank my distinguished colleagues for the support that honourable ministers have enjoyed today because I know what our colleagues can do. So I want to thank you.”
Tinubu was gesticulating the whole time as she spoke, bowing and turning this way and that. “Thank you for even telling us that he (Fashola) should take a bow at this point…”
She should have ended it here. But she had more on her chest and she wouldn’t be stopped.
“Sir, I want to really thank you”, Tinubu continued. “My only addition is that even during your first tenure, I didn’t get any chance to give employment letters to my constituents.
“So when you get there this time, just remember senators here…we have people back home…our constituents asking us for employment slots and as senators…and I want you to put that in your agenda for your second term that we all need slots for our constituents”, Tinubu concluded.
Ministerial nominees Fashola and Aregbesola shake hands before their sessions (DOlusegun)
You could have heard a pin drop in the red chamber at this point and just as well.
Screening sessions in the senate are not usually avenues to beg for ‘jobs for the boys’ or to make a case for the patronage network that underpins Nigeria’s politics. But Tinubu bucked the trend in the manner only she can–unashamed and unafraid.
She had rewritten the rules here and left Fashola red faced and a tad embarrassed.
May we add that Fashola didn’t address the point she raised; and that could probably be because he had no time to or that he considered it unimportant. How do you address a subject that borders on clannishness, nepotism and favoritism on international television?
As awkward moments go in this ‘bow and go’ ministerial screening session, Tinubu’s speech has to be up there among the very worst.
And Fashola won’t forget this for a while, we are certain. He never saw it coming.