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Monday, June 21, 1999 Published at 10:13 GMT 11:13 UK

World: Africa

Nigerian senate showdown looms over cabinet

Nigerians are still waiting for President Obasanjo's new government

New Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo is struggling to form a government, as senators have approved only three of the ministers he nominated.

Although it is nearly a month since President Obasanjo was sworn in as Nigeria's first democratically elected ruler since 1983, civil servants are still running the country.

Barnaby Phillips: "In truth the list is disappointing ... and even surprising"
When President Obasanjo submitted the list of 49 prospective ministers on 4 June he described them as "men and women of proven integrity" who had been "found worthy in character and ability".

But Nigeria Correspondent Barnaby Philips says there is a bewildering list of grievances coming from the senate which seems determined to impose its own authority.


Despite there being one candidate from every single one of Nigeria's 36 states, some northern senators feel he has shown a bias towards his own south-west.

Some also feel there are too many Christians and not enough Muslims.

There are plenty of familiar faces from previous governments under military regimes.

And many senators from the People's Democratic Party, the PDP, feel the president has not rewarded his own party enough.

Each nominee has been invited to appear before the senate this week in Abuja.

They have been asked to show tax certificates, medical certificates, voter registration cards and written evidence of assets.

According to the constitution the senate has till the end of the week to reject or accept the nominees.

The drawn out procedure contrasts sharply with South Africa, where Thabo Mbeki named a new cabinet within 24 hours of his own inauguration.

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