Member, House of Representatives, Mr. Edward Pwajok, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to make the error of appointing less than 36 ministers. Pwajok said that doing so would be against the provisions of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
The member, who represents Jos East/Jos South Federal Constituency of Plateau state, said in an interview that the constitution was explicit on the number of ministers to be appointed into the cabinet of the Federal Republic.
He said that the constitution stipulates that the president must choose ministers from each state of the federation and Abuja, adding that what it means is that it could be more than 37 ministers, but definitely not less than that. Pwajok added that if Buhari felt strongly that because of the down turn in the economy, he needed to have fewer ministers, the constitution must first be amended before then.
According to him, “Although Mr. President has not sent his nominees to the senate for confirmation as ministers, there are speculations in the media that he intends to appoint less than 36 or 37 ministers because of the down turn in the economy.
“The constitution is very clear on the number of ministers to be appointed, especially Section 147 of the constitution. It says that there must be at least one minister who must be indigenous to each state of the federation.
The meaning of this is simple; the president can choose to have more than 37 ministers, but he cannot have less than that.” Pwajok, who was a former Attorney–General and Commissioner for Justice in Plateau State added, “There are 36 states and Abuja as provided for by the constitution.
There is a reason as it gives every component unit of the federation a sense of belonging to that federating unit of the country so that each state will be part of the decision making of the federal executive council. “Where a state does not have a minister, the state will feel short-changed: that it is not part of the decisions that are being taken on how the country should be governed.”
On why Mr. President should tread softly, Pwajok said, “That is why I said he should look at the constitution. If he is not comfortable with the position, the constitution has to be amended first before he can act contrary to the provisions in the constitution.
“The spirit and letters of the constitution is what we should look at and which is to engender unity, a sense of belonging to all the federating units in the country and to choose capable hands, which abound in every state of the country.”