(Nov. 14, 2011) On November 8, 2011, it was reported that the lower house of Nigeria's National Assembly will review legislation, the Confirmation of Ministerial Nominees (Procedure) Bill, 2011, aimed at compelling the President to clearly state the specific responsibilities of nominees for ministerial positions when referring them to the Senate for confirmation. (Ibanga Isine, Controversy Trails Bill on Appointment of New Ministers, LEADERSHIP (Nov. 8, 2011).)
The author of the legislation suggested in an attached explanatory memorandum that the legislation is intended to help make the screening and confirmation process of ministerial nominees by the Senate effective. (Hb.75, A Bill for an Act to Make Provisions That Will Enable the National Assembly to Be More Effective in Screening Ministers of the Federal Government of the Federation Pursuant to the Provisions of Section 147 of the 1999 Constitution and for Other Matters Relating Thereto, The House of Representatives website.) However, the legislation appears to go further than simply establishing a procedure to make the process efficient; in addition to requiring the President to “indicate the portfolio which he intends the nominees to occupy,” a procedure that could arguably help streamline the confirmation process, the legislation mandates that once confirmed, the nominees are to occupy only the portfolios assigned in the nomination process. (Id., §§ 2 & 3;Isine, supra.)
Critics have questioned the constitutionality of the measure. Their concern appears to spring from the fact that the provision requiring Senate confirmation for presidential appointees to ministerial positions, §147 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (International Centre for Nigerian Law website (last visited Nov. 9, 2011)) does not include language that the President will define the possible functions that the nominees will carry out if the nominees are confirmed. (Isine, supra.) The critics argue that any attempt to introduce additional requirements to the nomination process may interfere in the President's constitutionally mandated power to appoint ministers (id.).