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Musawa, Tunji-Ojo, Bagudu: Ministers Whose Screening Raised Questions About Senate’s Due Diligence



Hannatu Musawa, who serves as the minister of art, culture, and creative economy, is the latest appointee to face controversy in her role.

Before Musawa, there was Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, the minister of interior, whose National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate had inconsistencies.

Preceding Tunji-Ojo, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, the minister of budget and planning, faced public scrutiny due to his involvement in handling embezzled funds during Sani Abacha’s regime.

Despite their questionable pasts, all three individuals were approved and sworn in as ministers. Concerns about their qualifications remain unanswered.

These situations have eroded trust in both the Senate and the Department of State Service (DSS), which conducted screening and security checks on all candidates before their ministerial appointments.

ThePressNG reviewed the ministerial screenings of the aforementioned ministers and it appeared that all that was required to approve the nominees was a recounting of their résumés following which the lawmakers simply signalled for them to take a bow.


Like other nominees, Musawa was asked to give a brief overview of her life. She did by talking about the impact of her late father on her life and her career as a politician.

It is unclear if the minister purposefully withheld her educational background and professional experience from the house or whether it was a result of Senate President Godswill Akpabio interjecting before she finished. However, all legislators had access to Musawa’s résumé but not one of them noticed or brought up the inconsistencies about her present status as a serving corps member.

Instead, Elisha Abbo and Suleiman Samaila of Adamawa North and Kano South senatorial districts respectively requested that she take a bow to demonstrate that legislators supported the president’s promise to include women in his cabinet.

The legislators granted Musawa a pass to appear supportive of women’s inclusion and let vital information like her being in active service with the NYSC slip through the cracks.


Concerns about Tunji-Ojo’s NYSC certificate were first raised during his screening by Suleiman Umar Sodiq of the Kwara North senatorial district.

Sodiq noted disparities in Tunji-Ojo’s birth date and service year, as well as inconsistencies in the date his certificate was issued.

In response, Tunji-Ojo explained that his participation in the scheme in 2019, despite graduating from tertiary institution in 2005, was mandated by law which required anybody who graduated before the age of 30 to participate in the national service programme even after reaching the age of 30.

There were no further questions on the date discrepancies in his certificate or how he was able to serve while he was a member of the House of Representatives. The minister was invited to take a bow by Akpabio.


Even before his screening, eventual confirmation and inauguration as minister of budget and planning, Bagudu’s profile as an accomplice of Sani Abacha’s money laundering scheme was readily available.

However, during Bagudu’s screening, the only piece of information about him that saw the light of day was the positions in which he had served throughout his political career, after which Akpabio asked the Senate, “Is it the view of the Senate that he takes a bow?”

A resounding yes followed and Bagudu was asked to take a bow.

The Senate did not probe Bagudu’s criminal records. The DSS also cleared him despite his widely reported criminal history. Other ministerial candidates such as Nasir el Rufai, the former governor of Kaduna State; Stella Okotete, the former executive director of business development at the Nigeria Import and Export Bank; and Abubakar Danladi, the former deputy governor of Taraba State, were not confirmed as they had not yet received security clearance.

Where was the same level of scrutiny for Bagudu?

Following the ministerial screening, Senate President Akpabio was captured on video informing legislators of a “token sent to their accounts” and then “prayers sent to their mail” to help them enjoy their holiday.

Whether it was a reward for a screening well done or just another opaque allowance federal lawmakers enjoy, no one could categorically say what these prayers were meant for. However, given how ministers who were approved by both federal lawmakers and the DSS have continued to be criticised by the public for unsavoury reasons, one is compelled to ask exactly what parameters the Senate used to screen these ministers.