Following his confirmation as a minister, Wednesday, by the Nigerian Senate, Musiliu Obanikoro, has said he holds no grudge against All Progressives Congress Senators, particularly those from his home state of Lagos, who kicked strongly against his nomination.
Mr. Obanikoro was reappointed for a ministerial role by President Goodluck Jonathan to pacify him after losing in controversial circumstances, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governorship primary elections in Lagos to Mr. Jimi Agbaje.
Obanikoro, who resigned his appointment as Minister of Defence (State) to contest the Lagos PDP guber primary, was opposed by senators from his state, who argued that he hadn’t cleared himself of complicity in the June 2014 Ekiti election rigging audio tape scandal.
President Jonathan had in an interview said he was not going to give directive for the audio tape to be investigated because it was not authentic. In another interview, he backtracked, saying the army officer, Capt. Sagir Koli, who made the audio recording and later leaked it, had gone underground, therefore, there was nothing his administration could do about the tape.
On Wednesday, however, after two previous attempts to confirm him failed, Senate President, David Mark, ignored protests from other opposition APC lawmakers as he allowed Mr. Obanikoro, to “take a bow and go”, without answering questions, a privilege reserved for former federal lawmakers.
The APC senators responded by walking out of the session in protest.
Reacting to the opposition against his confirmation, Obanikoro, via his Twitter handle, @Mobanikoro Wednesday afternoon, said the position of the Lagos senators strengthened Nigeria’s democracy.
“I want to use this medium to express my profound gratitude to my distinguished colleagues in the Senate for their kind support”, he said. “I am particularly grateful to the President of the Senate and other principal officers representing the Senate majority and minority”.
He added, “I have no ill feelings towards the Senators from Lagos who stood against me. Their position has amplified the strength of our democracy.
“In times like these, we learn that there is no winner or loser and that our shared hopes are greater than the politics that divide us”.
Meanwhile, the Ekiti State governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, who was also a principal actor in the Ekiti election scandal, congratulated Obanikoro on his confirmation as minister.
“Congratulations to @MObanikoro as he is confirmed as a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by the National Assembly”, he wrote via his @GovAyoFayose handle.