Senate Summons Foreign Affairs Minister, SGF over Lopsided Ambassadorial Nominations

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The Senate wednesday passed a resolution summoning the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Godfrey Onyema, and the Secretary to the government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, to appear before the Committee on Foreign Affairs to explain the rationale behind the selection of ambassadorial nominees whose list was sent to the Senate a fortnight ago.

Yesterday’s resolution followed an alarm raised by Senator Joshua Dariye (Plateau South), through a point of order that two people from his state who were senior to those nominated were not considered.

Dariye therefore sought the intervention of his colleagues to establish the criterion for the nomination, noting that doing so would go a long way to calm frayed nerves on the nominations.

Dariye had said: “I cannot ascertain that, but these two people who are the most qualified from their own states have been by-passed in this nomination and their own case is that there is nothing in their service records to show that they have not been superb in the discharge of their duty.

“Two of them in fact are already on level 17 and in making the recommendations, many who are junior to them in experience and status have been elevated above them. Therefore, we want some intervention from the chamber to make sure that correct process is followed so that those who have served the country meritoriously do not get passed because of whatever might be the internal politics of the ministry.

“So, I will plead on the case of my own constituents who are not even complaining about what is happening compared to other states but in the choice from within our own state and that if rules are going to be made, it should be understood by everybody so that the criteria are well established and are followed. So, I plead that relevant committee and this chamber would take a second look at this.

“We should direct that the minister for foreign affairs and the SGF to appear before the committee on foreign affairs to explain the omissions and irregularities as well as the processes by which some of these names came about.”

Also speaking on the matter, Senator Shehu Sanni (Kaduna Central) said the Committee on Foreign Affairs had received a number of petitions over the perceived lopsided nominations.
According to him, complaints from members of the public go beyond the search for criteria for the nominations to include the questions of credibility and integrity of some of the nominees.

“I am responding as the Vice Chairman of Foreign Affairs Committee. Actually, we have received series of complaints from different states on how skilled are those on the list that were presented to us from 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 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 the second list or we await the second list before we take action on the whole thing,” Sani said.

In his reaction, Senate President Bukola Saraki said he had also received a number of petitions over the list, pointing out that the Senate has the responsibility to ensure that due process was followed in the selection process. He therefore gave the committee one week to carry out its findings and report back to the Senate.