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Keyamo to Buhari: It’s unconstitutional to appoint Minister of State



According to Vanguard , Festus Keyamo, SAN, the departing minister of state for labor and employment, informed President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday that the appointment of a minister of state was an anomaly.

This was said by Keyamo in his remarks at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) farewell meeting, which was held in the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa in Abuja and presided over by President Buhari.

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The Minister of State added that some other ministers of state had been complaining and were unable to be courageous and speak up, and he thanked President Buhari for enhancing his resume by appointing him.

Since the discretion of the ministers of state was constrained by that of the ministers, he claimed it would be challenging to evaluate each minister of state’s performance because any original ideas they developed had to be approved by a different cabinet member before they could be considered by the council.

“Mr. President, you first appointed me as Minister of State in the Ministry Niger Delta Affairs in August 2019, and you later redeployed me as Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Employment,” his prepared speech began.

“Mr. President, the idea or title of “Minister of State” is a constitutional aberration and is essentially ineffective for those who have been appointed in that capacity. Many people who were appointed as Ministers of State have not spoken up at a venue like this because they are afraid of coming across as unappreciative to the presidents who selected them. Successive governments have come and gone. However, as I already stated, this is not unappreciative.

“As a private individual, I am on record as having appeared in court on multiple occasions to contest government actions that violate the constitution to advance our constitutional democracy, 

Being carried away by the pomp of public office and forgetting my duty as a member of the inner bar and my self-imposed function throughout the years as a warrior for democracy and constitutionalism would be out of character for someone who has worked in government.

Keyamo stated, “Mr. President, I seek your indulgence to explain this constitutional enigma of “Minister of State,” citing the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as modified) to support his claim. The Federal Republic of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution (as amended), Sections 147 and 148, address the appointment and duties of Ministers of the Federation. As stated in the aforementioned sections:

Article 147

(1) The President may establish such positions as ministers of the government of the Federation.

(2) The President will appoint anyone to the position of Minister of the Government of the Federation once the Senate confirms their nomination for the position.

(3) Any appointment made by the President under subsection (2) of this section must comply with the provisions of Section 14(3) of this Constitution; however, to give effect to those provisions, the President must name at least one minister from each state who must be a native of that state.

Article 148

(1) The Vice President or any Minister of the Government of the Federation may be given responsibility for any government business, including the management of any department, at the President’s discretion.

“In addition, the 7th Schedule of the 1999 Constitution details the Oath of Office that each Minister is required to take. The oaths for “Minister” and “Ministers of State” are identical. The same oath of office is taken by all of them.

Along with the foregoing, the ministers-designate stand before the Senate and are questioned and cleared as ministers, or not as ministers in some cases and ministers of state in others, depending on the situation. Then, while portfolios were being assigned, succeeding Presidents classed some as

He argued that while the president has the legal authority to designate portfolios for his appointees, such appointments have to adhere to constitutional requirements.

Some might attempt to defend this by pointing out that the Constitution gives the President the freedom to grant ministers any responsibilities he sees fit. Yes, I agree that the president can do that, but only with a title that follows the Constitution. To put it simply, it is analogous to the President redesignating the Vice President’s position as “Deputy President” within the terms of our current Constitution. That is not doable. So why should the ministers be different?

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