By Olawale Olaleye
Except there is a rethink capable of halting the rising disenchantment in the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the choice of non-career ambassadorial nominees whose names were submitted last week by President Muhammadu Buhari to the Senate for screening and confirmation, some of the nominees may not scale through screening.
Indeed, if the executive arm of government fails to get the buy-in of APC chieftains in some states over the choice of ambassadorial nominees, THISDAY gathered that quite a few may end up the way of some members of the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) who were not confirmed by the Senate recently following the plethora of petitions against the nominees to the board of the regional commission.
Although the Bukola Saraki-led Senate has, since assuming office, tried to co-operate with the executive arm of government by clearing most of its nominees to positions in government, the situation could again find the Senate caught in the middle between the presidency and ruling APC over Buhari’s choice of ambassadorial nominees.
Whilst this is not a direct battle of the Senate, the upper legislative chamber is the only avenue available to aggrieved interests in the APC to challenge what is now being described as the scant regard for party supremacy in the appointment of persons into government positions.
THISDAY gathered last night that a majority of the party leaders across the country, including APC governors, were not happy with the way the latest ambassadorial list was handled, as they were completely alienated from the selection process, rendering them inconsequential in the power equation in their home zones.
This disappointment was said to have been more pronounced in the South-west geopolitical zone, where a majority of the APC leaders claimed complete ignorance of the persons appointed from their respective states.
Apart from the likes of Senator Olorunimbe Mamora, Mrs. Paulin Tallen, Mr. Usman Bugaje, and a few others whose appointments, many of the party’s leaders can justify, the aggrieved APC chieftains have vowed to frustrate other ambassadorial nominees on the grounds that they do not represent the reality and endorsement of party leaders in their states.
According to a source in government who is also a chieftain of the APC, there are indications that aggrieved leaders and their respective governors might have concluded plans to frustrate the screening exercise through their representatives in the Senate “because this disregard for party leadership and supremacy must stop,” the source said.
In Ekiti State for example, the nominee, Ayodele Ayodeji, is said to be unknown to all the three former governors of the party, who are prominent members of the APC, in addition to the fact that he just finished serving the country as the Ambassador to Greece, thus negating the understanding that anyone who was once an ambassador would not be qualified under the current dispensation.
Also, in Osun and Oyo States, the governors were said to be unaware of how the nominees from their states were shortlisted, in the same manner Buhari had surprised them during the ministerial appointments by not consulting with any of the party leaders.
Adegboyega Ogunwusi, the elder brother of the Ooni of Ife in Osun State and Ashimiyu Olaniyi were nominated without consultations with Governors Rauf Aregbesola and Abiola Ajimobi of Osun and Oyo States, respectively.
The THISDAY source said: “This is the same thing the wife of the president, Aisha, was talking about. These same people are the ones who drafted the list as they wanted and pushed it through without consulting anyone.
“Even in Ogun State where the governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, is assumed to be very close to the president, was said to have had no say in the choice of nominee from the state, as Ade Asekun was said to have been nominated by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.”
Although the Ogun governor may not have a problem with this, the source said, he should have at least been consulted.
Similarly, the choice of Justice George Oguntade from Lagos was said to have been entirely the decision of the president, because it was seen as compensation for the retired Supreme Court justice’s minority report in 2008 when Buhari challenged the outcome of the presidential election that the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua won in 2007.
Other ambassadorial nominees, sources said, were decided by the presidency. It is for this reason aggrieved leaders of the party have vowed to turn to the Senate to assert their place in a government they helped to install.
THISDAY gathered that the leaders are particularly worried because of the way the government is being run without recourse to the party leadership’s input.
When contacted on the discontent within the party over the ambassadorial nominees, the president’s media aide, Mr. Femi Adesina, said if the grievances are genuine they would be looked into.
“Whatever grievances there are, if genuine, they will looked into,” he said to THISDAY.