The Senate has confirmed the appointments of the immediate past Service Chiefs and another retired top military brass as ambassadors-designate amid protests by the Minority Leader, Senator Enyinaya Abaribe based on petitions against their nominations by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The confirmation of the nominees who have all retired from service followed the consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, chaired by Senator Adamu Bulkachuwa (APC Bauchi North) during the plenary.
They are former Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, General Abayomi G. Olonisakin from Ekiti State; Lt. General Tukur Y. Buratai (Borno); Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete E. Ibas (Cross River); Air Marshal Sadique Baba Abubakar (Bauchi) and former Chief of Defence Intelligence, Air Vice Marshal Muhammad S. Usman from Kano State.
In his presentation, the chairman of the committee said their appointments were made in line with section 171(40) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
According to him, “their experiences as Service Chiefs
and in the military where they rose to the highest ranks in their careers have made them eminently qualified; and that the nominees were very knowledgeable and articulate in their response to questions directed at them by the Committee.”
Bulkachuwa, however, disclosed in the report that “the Committee received petitions against their nominations as Non-Career Ambassadors of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but the petitions were dismissed.”
But shortly after the presentation, the Senate Minority Leader
demanded an explanation as to the rationale behind the dismissal of the petition against the nominees by the committee, particularly against the backdrop of the Senate resolutions in the past calling for their removal as Service Chiefs.
Rising from Order 43 of the Senate Standing Rules which deals with personal explanation, Senator Abaribe, said he had a copy of one of the petitions against the nominees which bothers on the integrity of the upper legislative chamber and National Assembly in general.
Responding, the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, pointed out that the Senate resolution demanding their removal was in no way related to President Buhari’s request for the Senate to confirm them as ambassadors-designate, adding that, “these are two separate roles.”
“Without prejudice to what the executive will do, where we need to fight the Boko Haram insurgency and banditry, because of their experience in the field, they should be able to interact very closely and sufficiently to advise and create the atmosphere for working together, for partnership and cooperation between Nigeria and those countries.
“So, I think on that scope, the nomination cannot be nullified because we said they should be changed”, Lawan said
The nominees were, thereafter, confirmed after a motion moved by the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, to that effect and seconded by the Minority Leader, Abaribe.
In his remarks after the confirmation, the Senate President advised the executive arm of government to deploy them to countries where their experiences as former military officers would be required.
Lawan said, “the nominees that we have just confirmed are nominees that have served this great country to the best of their ability as Service Chiefs and today, they have been confirmed as Non-Career Ambassadors
“Our appeal to the executive is to make sure that we utilize their experiences as Military men to the best because we should be able to post them to countries where they can be much more useful in their engagements as ambassadors.”