Thursday, 23 June 2016


The Senate yesterday vowed not to commence screening until the Presidency corrected the anomalies associated with the nomination.

Against this backdrop, the Senate summoned the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, David Babachir Lawal, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Onyeama, to appear before the Senator Monsurat Sunmonu’s Committee on Foreign Affairs today at 11am to explain the manner the list was drawn and what led to the omission of some states from the list sent by the President. 

States as Bayelsa, Ebonyi and Ondo have complained about their omission from the ambassadorial list sent last week by the President. 

The Senate has, however, given the committee one week to carry out the assignment and submit its report. President Muhammadu Buhari had on Thursday, June 9, released the list of ambassadorial nominees which was contained in a letter sent to Senate President, Bukola Saraki.

 The decision of the Senate was taken, following a point of order raised by Senator Joshua Dariye, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Plateau Central. 

The prayer read: “We should direct that the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the SGF appear before the Committee on Foreign Affairs to explain the omissions and irregularities and the processes by which some of these names came about.” During discussions yesterday, senators expressed dissatisfaction with the ambassadorial nominees’ list.

 In his contribution, Senator Sunny Ogbuoji, PDP, Ebonyi South, who complained that his state was not represented in the list, said: “I wish to continue with the motion raised by Dariye on the ambassadors.

 “I want to observe that Ebonyi State is not represented in that list, even though we have career diplomats and a couple of them have been calling to find out why they were not recognised.’’ 

Ogbuoji suggested the Senate should invite the minister of external affairs and permanent secretary to explain the modalities used in picking the nominees. Also contributing, Senator Foster Ogola, PDP, Bayelsa West, who expressed his bitterness over the nominees, said it was unfair for a state which produces 30% of oil in the country to be schemed out of the list. 

He said: “I remember when we were eulogising about the one year anniversary, I complained that my place was omitted. “People who suffer from terrorism were omitted. A place that provides 30 percent of the oil, it is not fair.’’ Senator Ogola complained that the list should be returned to the President until all states were reflected.

 ‘’The federal government is putting undue pressure on people like me because they see us as people that are not doing their work. “If we are talking on federalism and federal character, we should not see how the President would submit names when some states are not there. Nothing should be done on this list until all the states are reflected,” he said.

 In his contribution, Senate Chief Whip, Senator Olusola Adeyeye, said: “We want some intervention from the chamber to be sure that correct process is followed so that those who have served the republic meritoriously do not get passed because of whatever might be the internal politics of the ministry.’’ 

Also in his contribution, Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Shehu Sani, said the committee had received many complaints on the list, questioning its credibility, even as he assured that the committee was working on the complaints. 

He, however, suggested that the Senate screened the nominees already sent in, while waiting for a second list or wait for both lists to be out before embarking on the screening. Senator Sani said: “I am responding as the vice chairman of the foreign affairs committee. Actually, we have received series of complaints from different states on the skewed list that was presented to us by the Presidency. 

“The complaints are so much, to the extent that the credibility and integrity of that list is put to question. So, we are working on that very complaints and I think those that were not able to forward such issues to us should be able to do that. 

“But in the mean time, the question we have is that it is either we screen those who are here on that list and then await for the second list or we await the second list before we take action on the whole thing.” Senate president, Bukola Saraki, while making his contribution, said: 

“Distinguished colleagues, I want to thank Senator Dariye and I think a number of senators too, prior to this, have raised this observation and I too have received a lot of petitions in my office on this same matter. “I think it is very important to say on career ambassadors, we must ensure that the process is transparent, especially as they are going to be ambassadors.

 ‘’The number of petitions we have received this time is a bit more than usual and it is important that the foreign affairs committee quickly invite the Minister and Secretary to the Government of the Federation so they can explain the processes of how some of these names came about. 

‘’That can be done before they even begin to consider the nomination for screening. The matter is referred to Foreign Affairs Committee and we give them maximum one week to be able to come with a report on it.’’

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