Prof. Ocheni, Hassan, new Minister nominees

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By Ifeanyi Nwoko

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, unveiled the  names of Ministerial nominees sent to the senate for confirmation.

The nominees whose names were announced on Wednesday by the President of the Senate Dr. Bukola Saraki are Prof. Stephen Ocheni from Kogi State and Suleiman Hassan from Gombe State.

Mr Hassan was one of the non career Ambassadors designates cleared by the Senate last week and now nominated minister.

Little is known about Hassan. But a Suleiman Hassan was the chairman of the Congress for Political Change in Gombe for several years. He later became the registrar of Surveyors Council of Nigeria.

The Constitution of the Federal Republic Nigeria (1999) as amended does not allow for any individual to hold two public offices.

Suleiman Hassan from Gombe

Our correspondent gathered that going by the principle of Federal Character, the Gombe state nominee would be replacing former Minister of Environment Aisha Mohammed in the Cabinet.

Amina Mohammed on 1 March became the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations.

The Kogi state nominee will however replace the late Minister of State for Labour Barr. James Ocholi who died on March 6, 2016 in an auto crash along Kaduna-Abuja road.

The nomination of a replacement is coming over one year after the minister died in an accident on Kaduna-Abuja road.

Many stakeholders from the state had called on the President to send a nominee to replace the late minister so that the people of the State would be well represented in the Cabinet.

Professor Ocheni had served for many years both in Kogi and Federal civil service, before veering into academics.

He was born on 25 June, 1959. He was educated at Idah Secondary Commercial College between 1974 and 1979. He later went to Federal Polytechnic in Idah between 1979 and 1983. He joined the civil service after leaving the Poly and became a permanent secretary in Kogi state, serving between 1998 and 2003.

His CV showed that he joined the Federal civil service in 2003 as  a director in the office of accountant-general. He spent seven years there before being deployed as a director in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Ocheni moved into academics after leaving the federal service.

His education after leaving Idah Polytechnic prepared him for this. He attended Enugu State University of Technology(1988-90) and University of Nigeria Nsukka, where he picked a Masters  degree and a PHD between 2001 and  2004, while in both Kogi and Federal Service. He also went for a programme at Howard University in Washington D.C in 2000.

There are indications that the confirmation of the ministers would herald a cabinet reshuffle by the Presidency.

However, the list of ministerial nominees is coming at a  time when the Senate stood down for two weeks consideration of the request of President Buhari for the appointment of Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs).

The Senate based its decision on what it termed disregard for its resolutions.

The upper legislative chamber specifically berated the President for appearing to be doing nothing about the rejection of Ibrahim Magu as the Chairman of the EFCC but allowing him to function in acting capacity.

The senate stressed that it was wrong to leave any appointee in acting capacity even after he had been rejected twice by the senate.