After facing frustration from the Senate, President Muhammadu Buhari has reportedly caved in to pressure, by agreeing to withdraw the list of 46 non-career ambassadorial nominees recently submitted to the Upper Chamber for screening and confirmation. Most of the 23 governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have kicked against the nomination.
They have also agreed to formally write the president stating their reservations on the nomination. An insider in the apex chamber, who preferred to speak on condition of anonymity, told our correspondent that the president had agreed to withdraw the list because the Senate had made it clear to him that his list was not acceptable to the parliament, as the ears and eyes of the electorate and custodian of democracy.
The source also said that the Senate rejected the ambassadorial list because its composition ran foul of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
According to the source, the selection process used by Buhari was in flagrant disregard to the Federal Character principle, which provides that every state of the federation must be equitably represented in such critical appointments.
The source further told New Telegraph that the Senate found out that the president neither involved state governors of most states nor other political stakeholders such as the lawmakers to make input in the selection of the nominees, as has been the practice in a democratic government.
“The president has agreed to withdraw the list in order to work on it and make it acceptable because we have made it clear to him that there is nothing to be done for the Senate to accept that kind of skewed list.
“At least this is noncareer list, so the issue of some states not having qualified candidates does not arise. Unfortunately, the list he submitted to us is in total contradiction of the nation’s constitution, particularly as it affects the provisions of Federal Character.
“When you look at the list, you will find out that some states were completely left out while some got two to three slots. What kind of thing is that? We cannot take it and we have told him point blank that it will be more dignifying for him to withdraw it and correct all the anomalies spotted in the list.
“We cannot run this democracy like military dictatorship, neither are we going to allow any civilian, duly elected by the people of Nigeria to operate an authoritarian regime under the watch of the people’s parliament. “People may misunderstand us.
They may even accuse us of antagonising the president without a cause, but we won’t allow sentiments to detract us from doing what is right. It is we, the lawmakers, that history and posterity will hold responsible for our actions or inactions,” the source stated.
Buhari had, on October 20, forwarded the list of 46 non-career ambassadorial nominees to the Senate for screening and confirmation for appointment as ambassadors.
Shortly after Saraki read the list on the floor of the Senate, Senator Philip Aduda (FCT) protested the non-inclusion of any nominee from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on the list, describing the situation as unfair and urged President Buhari to revisit the matter and correct the anomaly in order to give FCT a sense of belonging.
Days after, some other senators drew the attention of the Senate to the fact that their states were not represented on the list, and urged that the omission be corrected before the Chamber could screen and confirm the nominees. Earlier in June, the President sent a list of 47 career diplomats to the Senate for confirmation.
The Senate has screened the nominees, while the Chamber is expected to confirm them any moment. The list also attracted a lot of protests from states that were not represented in the nominations.
The Senate invited the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal, who came and convinced the lawmakers that the states omitted did not have qualified officers based on the criteria adopted by the president in the selection.
Meanwhile, New Telegraph learnt that the Senate had resolved not to use the 2017-2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), which was already returned to the Presidency, unless thoroughly reworked, with detailed explanation, with realistic economic indices attached to it.
It was further learnt that there was no meaningful reconciliatory discussions going on between Buhari and the Senate leadership as being recently speculated.
A source very close to the Senate leadership told our correspondent that it was because of the recent consecutive visits of the President of the Senate to the Aso Rock Villa that triggered the insinuation that Saraki was seeking to build harmony between the Senate and President Buhari.
The source, which holds very important position in the Senate, said that the executive arm had a lot of controversial issues to resolve, which Saraki alone could not, on his own, go and discuss without the approval of the entire Senate.
“I am not aware of any reconciliatory discussions going on between the executive or the president to be more precise, and the Senate. Even last time Saraki went to Villa, they did not discuss anything like that because by virtue of my position in the Senate, I ought to know if such took place between them.
“We have not heard that they want to sit down to work out a harmonious relationship. To the best of my knowledge, these issues you are raising are all speculative.
Maybe, because Saraki is now seen often in the Villa, people just concluded that they are building a peaceful relationship. “Remember that the executive has a lot of issues with the Senate: the issue of NERC appointment, INEC, EFCC, NCC, N180 billion virement, $29.96 billion loan and so on.
Don’t forget that the National Assembly is people’s assembly; so, the leadership cannot work without the consent of the majority of members of the National Assembly,” the source maintained.
Meanwhile, efforts to get the Senior Special Assistant to the President (SSA) on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, to comment on whether or not President Buhari has accepted to withdraw the list of the non-career ambassadorial nominees failed, as he did not pick his call after many trials by our correspondent.