…Stall confirmation of ambassadorial nominees
- PDP lawmakers declare war
From Fred Itua, Abuja
AFTER several months of battle of wits, the Presidency- Senate frosty relationship dipped further yesterday, as the lawmakers carried through their threat to frustrate the executive. Against population expectations, the Senate stalled the screening and confirmation of ambassadorial nominees sent to it by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Senate further pulled punches as it directed the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Babachir Lawal and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, to appear before its committee on Foreign Affairs to explain the processes leading to the selection of nominees before it would commence screening.
The summon of the SGF and foreign minister followed a Point of Order raised by Joshua Dariye (PDP, Plateau Central) after a two-hour close-door session.
While making reference to Order 42 and Order 52, Dariye said he had received complaints about irregularities in the selection of ambassadorial nominees in Plateau State and other states of the federation.
“Given the important role played by ambassadors, due diligence must be given and there should be a criteria to nominate qualified eminent Nigerians. My request is to invite the Minister of Foreign Affairs and SGF to appear before the Committee on Foreign Affairs to explain this obvious omission and irregularities,’’ he said.
Seconding, Olusola Adeyeye (APC, Osun Central), said there was a need to ensure that the right processes were followed in the selection of the nominees. “I have been approached by three different people including one from my state with the grievance that there was a lot of irregularities with the way that the names emerged,” he noted.
While Sunny Ugboji (PDP, Ebonyi), expressed concern that his state was not represented in the nomination, Emmanuel Bwacha (PDP, Taraba South), said there were laid down procedures for nominating career ambassadors.
Said Bwacha: “What generates our concern is that the list is for career ambassadors and not political ambassadors. I am in agreement with the issue raised and it should be treated holistically.’’
The Vice Chairman Senate Committee on Foreign affairs, Shehu Sani, said the committee had begun investigation into the matter and urged all aggrieved persons to forward their petitions to the committee.
The President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, charged the committee to expedite action on the petitions, saying screening would be suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.
“A number of senators raised this observation and I have received a lot of petitions on this matter. If we say they are career ambassadors we must ensure that the process is transparent, especially as they are going to be ambassadors.
“It is important for the foreign affairs committee to invite the minister and the SGF so that they can explain the processes that led to these names before we begin to consider the nomination,’’ he said.
The committee was directed to report to the Senate in one week.