Senate committee suspends screening indefinitely
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Chairman-designate of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Professor Akintunde Akinwande, has rejected his appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari to head the agency.
The rejection marked the third time an appointee by Buhari would reject his or her nominations in recent days. Mrs. Pauline Tallen (Plateau) and Usman Bugaje (Katsina) recently rejected their ambassadorial appointments.
Indications that Akinwande had rejected his appointment arose when he shunned his invitation to appear before the Senate Committee on Power for screening yesterday and consequently stalling the screening of other nominees.
It was learnt that Akinwande rejected the nomination because he was not consulted before the nomination was made. To underscore his lack of interest in the appointment, he had hitherto failed to appear before the Department of State Services (DSS) for security screening.
It was also learnt that among the nominees whose credentials were sent to the Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy, Akinwande’s credentials was conspicuously missing.
It was further gathered that the professor was not resident in Nigeria but based in the United States where he’s pursuing a project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US.
“We also learnt that adequate consultation was not made before the man was nominated. We were therefore informed that the nominee may have turned down his nomination,” a source added.
Explaining the rationale behind the committee’s suspension of further screening, the Chairman, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, said it was impossible to screen other nominees in the absence of the chairman-designate.
Abaribe also said the privatisation of electricity sector was meant to improve the power sector, adding that the inauguration of NERC board was key to solving the power sector problems.
“Regrettably, when members of the committee assembled to screen the nominees made by President Buhari, we were told that the chairman-designate was unavoidably absent. The presidential liaison who brought the nominees informed us that the chairman was unavoidably absent,” Abaribe added.
Abaribe further observed that since Akinwande’s nomination had been made in the past three months, the Presidency should have confirmed the preparedness of the chairman-designate to appear for screening or otherwise. “The commission is vital and cannot function without a chairman,” Abaribe insisted.
Abaribe however, assured those concerned that the committee was ready to screen the nominees but insisted that “we cannot screen them until we have a formal communication from the presidency.”
Other nominees to the board are Sanusi Garuba (vice chairman), Nathan Shatti (commissioner), Dr. Moses Arigu (commissioner), Dafe Akpeneye (commissioner), Prof. Frank Okafor (commissioner) and Musiliu Oseni (commissioner).