It was confirmation of appointments galore at the Senate yesterday as two Justices were endorsed for the Supreme Court, commissioners were okayed for the Independent National Electoral Commission and board members for the National Communications Commission (NCC) .
Not so lucky were a former Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly, Pastor Ezekiel Yissa Ezekiel and Aliyu Saidu Abubakar, whose nominations to the NCC board were rejected.
The report of the Senator Gilbert Nnaji-led Committee on Communications said that only five out of the seven nominees submitted to the Senate by President Muhammadu Buhari for confirmation into the NCC board, were considered fit for board appointment.
Those cleared are octogenarian Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, as Chairman Governing Board, a journalist and former Special Adviser/Chief of Staff to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Mr. Sunday Dare, as Executive Commissioner (stakeholders management), Mr. Clement Omeiza Baiye, (Non Executive Commissioner) Chief Okoi Obia (Non-Executive Commissioner) and Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, (Non-Executive Commissioner).
The nominees confirmed as as commissioners in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are: Agbamuche-Mbu (Delta), Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu (Anambra), Ahmed Mu’azu (Gombe), Mohammed Kudu Haruna (Niger), Dr. Adekunle Ogunmola (Oyo) and Abubakar Nahuche (Zamfara).
Dare, a Harvard and Oxford-trained media manager is a communications expert and multi-media resource person with over 20 years experience. For nine years, he was a supervisor of International radio broadcasters at the Voice of America (VOA).
The Senate also confirmed the appointments of Justices Dauda Bage and Paul Galinje as Supreme Court justices.
On Abubakar’s rejection, the committee recommended that “Mr. Abubakar’s response to the questions and issues raised by the Committee unveils him as a candidate who is not prepared for the demands of office such as required Commissioners of the NCC.”
Senator Nnaji added that “Mr. Aliyu Saidu Abubakar could not produce any credible educational certificate for the Committee to verify at the screening. He obviously lacks the professional and educational disciplines provided in Section 7 (1)(a-h) of the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003 which stipulates the qualification for the Commission’s Board.”
On the rejection of Pastor Ezekiel, the committee said, “Pastor Ezekiel Yissa’s background as a career Nursing Officer however, will not put him in good stead to be able to effectively cope with the dynamics of the communications sector if his nomination is confirmed.”
Abubakar had argued during his screening that the cost of running the Senate was high and therefore should be scrapped.
He noted that a situation where the senators were being paid huge sums as transport allowances among others amounted to economic loss to the country.
The Bauchi State nominee also criticized the purchase expensive vehicles for the lawmakers.
When the screening committee presented him (Abubakar) with several photographs where he was variously leading organised protests against the Senate particularly at the gate of the National Assembly, the unrepentant nominee thundered that he had no regret for his actions as he was still convinced that Senate was an avenue for wastage of scarce economic resources of the country.
The committee had earlier pointed out what described grave irregularities in the personal records of the nominee.
The committee noted that aside birth certificate, “there were only copies of court affidavit and police extract dated the same day, strangely after he had been nominated, claiming loss of his credentials.”
It said that “Interestingly also, his highest academic qualification was a one-year “Diploma in Computer” from Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi of-which the attached statement of result was dated 23rd September 2016, still after he had been nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari.”
The report said, “When requested to throw more light on why he chose to present documents that were prepared shortly after his nomination and also why he believed that he was qualified to function as a National Commissioner in such a critical agency as NCC given the rigours, challenges and required expertise for efficiency of the commission, he revealed that he ‘did not bother to go for the credentials’ because according to him he “only went to school merely for knowledge having self-employed prior to the nomination”.
Senator Nnaji told reporters after the consideration of the report “In my capacity as the Chairman I just defended the recommendations of the Committee that the Senate should confirm only five out of seven nominees for the governing board of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC.
“In the course of our screening, we found out that two of the presidential nominees were not eligible and as such not fit to serve in the Board given our resolve to ensure that the communications regulatory agency is efficient and responsive relative to the prevailing challenges in the sector.
“We assessed them based on certain parametres in line with the key performance indices put in place for the industry operators. Our decisions were basically guided by national interest.
“Telecom network providers must be made to render services that offer Nigerian masses values for their monies.
“So there is no way someone who does not possess the basic skills or expertise to key into our vision for a sustainable communications industry could have been cleared to serve in the board.”