Foreign Affairs Minister to Appear before Senate Tomorrow on Ambassadorial Nominees


By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, will tomorrow appear before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs to explain the reason for perceived lopsidedness in the appointments of ambassadors by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Buhari had in May sent a list of 45 ambassadorial nominees made up mainly of career civil servants to the Senate for confirmation. But there has been a stalemate in the move to confirm the nominees by the Senate as a result of a series of complaints and petitions against the appointments from both senators and some citizens.

The development prompted the Senate to suspend the screening and confirmation of the nominees and eventually resolving to summon the minister and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) over the matter.

While THISDAY learnt last night that the minister had confirmed his preparedness to appear before the committee tomorrow, such assurance had not been secured from the SGF.

While summoning the duo before proceeding on its Sallah break on June 23, the Senate said the minister and the SGF must appear before the committee to explain the reason for the exclusion of representatives of some states in the list by the presidency.

Onyeama and Lawal are also expected to explain the rationale behind the nomination of some junior officers in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in sheer disregard for the principle of seniority by civil service.

The Senate’s resolutions was spurred by a point of order raised by Senator Joshua Dariye (Plateau South).

Dariye while raising orders 42 and 52 in Senate Standing Orders, observed that the ambassadorial list was full of omissions and irregularities which he said must be corrected before the upper house could consider the list for approval.

He also said those nominated by Buhari from his state were not qualified pointing out that senior career officers in the foreign service from the state were sidetracked while their junior counterparts were nominated.

“Given the important role played by ambassadors, due diligence must be given and there should be a criteria to nominate qualified eminent Nigerians,” Dariye said.

He therefore moved that the Senate “should direct that the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the SGF should appear before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs to explain the omissions and irregularities, and the processes by which some of these names came about.”

Seconding the motion, Senator Olusola Adeyeye (Osun Central), called for prompt action of the Senate in view of a number of petitions which the Senate had received on the matter.

The prayer was upheld by the politicians, leading to the invitation of the minister and the SGF.