Senate queries SGF, minister over lopsided appointment of ambassadors
The Senate on Wednesday invited the Secretary to the Government of the Federation,(SGF) Babachir David Lawal, and the Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyema, to appear before it to explain the lopsidedness in the nomination of the 47 ambassadors just sent to the Upper chamber by the President.
Adopting a motion sponsored by Senator Joshua Dariye (PDP, Plateau State), the Senate noted that the series of complaints that greeted the nomination were becoming embarrassing.
It stood down the consideration and confirmation of the nominees until it had got a satisfactory explanation from the SGF and the Foreign Affairs minister.
The Senate equally directed its committee on foreign affairs which would interrogate the SGF and the minister to ensure they provide the criteria used in selecting the nominees.
Senators had persistently drawn attention to omissions of many states like Plateau, Ebonyi, Ondo, Bayelsa from the list.
President Muhammadu Buhari had two weeks ago sent a list of 47 career diplomats to the Senate for confirmation as ambassadors.
In a remark shortly after the adoption of the motion, Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki said stressed that all rules of transparency must be complied with in the process of appointing career officers as ambassadors.
He 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 that on career ambassadors, we must ensure that the process is transparent especially they are going to be ambassadors and 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 that 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 a maximum of one week to be able to come with a report on it.” Saraki ordered.
Contributing to the motion, Vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Shehu 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 how skewed the list that was presented to us here from the presidency is.
Sani said “the complaints were so much to the effect that the credibility and integrity of that list are being put to question”
“So, we are working on those 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 meantime, the question we have is that it is either we screened those who are here on that list and then we await the second list or we await the second list before we take action in the whole thing.”