Former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Michael Aondoakaa, has said that the office of Minister or Minister of State were discretions of the president, and he could call them as he wished to call them.
While speaking with ARISE NEWS in an interview on Monday, in response to the former Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, who stated that the office of the Minister of State is an unconstitutional position, Aondoakaa disagreed, saying, “There was no letter of appointment specifically naming minister of state. Minister of state is a discretion, you know, apart from the office of attorney general.” He stated that it was up to the President to decide who to call a minister or a Minister of State, as he said that both Minister and Ministers of State are all seen as Ministers in the federation.
“The issue is at the discretion because there is often powers of the president that are vested in the president and he has to name it. Today if he decides to call the Minister of Finance a different minister or a different name, nothing is unconstitutional about it. Except that, he cannot call the attorney general otherwise because it is vested in the constitution. He cannot call secretary to government otherwise. Why? Secretary to government is not part of the ministers. These are appointments designation in the constitution and specifically named names. But minister of state is a discretion of the president to describe the ministers appointed as whether you are minister or minister of state, but letters of appointments during my time only had ‘Minister in the Federation of the Government’”
When he was asked his views on the problem of subsidy and its removal, he said, “The issue of subsidy is a very difficult situation. Right from the time of President Yar’Adua, we felt it was desirable to remove the fuel subsidy. But the level of poverty and the issue of low wages in the country, it was really difficult to. As times went on, we realised that the kind of corruption and the inappropriate billing came in. As of now, I don’t think any Nigerian knows the level of fuel consumption in Nigeria and the extent of which outright fuel subsidy was utilised.
“If you look at it from that premise, it’s desirable to remove it, but there must be palliatives in place, efficient public transportation, and I believe that the government should look from the direction of an efficient public transportation, direction of increased welfare of the workers, and all those kinds of things supposed to be in place. But actually, the level of inappropriate handling of the fuel subsidy issue came to the conclusion that it was actually not reaching the masses, maybe that was the conclusion of the government.”