Chuks Okocha in Abuja
A crisis of trust is brewing among senators of the ninth National Assembly over the recent appointment of a former senior legislative aide to Senate President Ahmad Lawan, Ahmed Kadi Amshi, as Chairman of the National Assembly Service Commission.
Amshi hails from the same Bade Local Government Area of Yobe State as the Senate President, and many in the upper chamber have condemned his appointment as lopsided and against the country’s crucial Federal Character principle.
The new chairman, who served as Lawan’s legislative aide, when he was the Senate leader in the 8th National Assembly, replaced Mallam Adamu Fika, also an indigene of Yobe State.
This, however, was contrary to what obtained, when Senator Bukola Saraki was President of the Senate. Before he left office as Senate President, Saraki had appointed Senator Joy Emordi from Anambra State as chairman-designate, but Lawan, upon assumption of office, jettisoned the appointments made by Saraki and refused to submit their names for ratification to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The nominations as proposed by the Saraki-led leadership of the eighth National Assembly had Senator Joy Emordi from the South-east as Chairman, National Assembly Service Commission, with 11 other members. They included Nuhu Musa (Jigawa), Bilyaminu Shinkafi (Kebbi), Femi Agge (Edo), Uthman Taofeek (Lagos), Adenekan Olateru-Olagbegi (Ondo), and Abdulazeez Usman (Kwara).
On the proposed list also were Awalu Aliyu Ohindese (Kogi), Henry Adagba (Ebonyi), Rufus Omeire (Imo), Bilyamini Bunbot (Bauchi), and Ahmed Ashemi (Borno).
But controversy broke out after Lawan read out a list of new members of the commission with Emordi replaced by Amshi from his part of the country.
In the list sent to the National Assembly by President Buhari following the recommendations by the Lawan leadership, the Federal Character principle observed in the Saraki appointments was largely jettisoned.
In the letter to the National Assembly, the president said, “Further to your letters (NASS/9th/S/SP/PRE/1/NASC/06/ 11/19 dated November 6, 2019 and NASS/9tg/S/SP/PRE/1/NASC/25/ 11/19 dated 25th November, 2019, I write to convey my approval of your nominations for the appointments of Chairman and Commissioners of the National Assembly Service Commission as follows:
“Engr. Ahmed Kadi Amshi, Chairman (Yobe, North East); Babagana Modu, Member (Borno, North East); Abubakar Tutare (Taraba, North East); Hakeem Akamo (Lagos, South West); Tunrayo Akintomide (Ondo, South West); Atanomeyorwi Francis (Delta, South South).
“Others are Bassey Etuk (Akwa-Ibom); Bailyaminu Yusuf Shinkafi (Zamfara, North West); Sani Saidu Kazaure (Jigawa, North West); Julius Ucha (Ebonyi, South East); Nnamdi Anyaechie (Imo, South East); Auwalu Aliyu Ohindase (Kogi, North Central); and Muazu Is’haq (Nasarawa, North Central).”
Some of the senators, who spoke to THISDAY in disappointment over the choice of Amshii, condemned what they called the lack of Federal Character principle in Lawan’s advice to the president.
The first senator, who spoke to THISDAY and pleaded anonymity stated, “This is another point of nepotic appointments in the country. The Senate President is from Bade local government and Amshi, the new chairman of the National Assembly Service Commission, is from the same local government, in fact, from the same ward. What else is impunity, if not this?”
Another senator recalled that in the eighth senate, Saraki had appointed a former ranking senator and former adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan as chairman designate.
“We learnt that Lawan frustrated the appointment by not sending the list to President Buhari for ratification,” he said.
According to the senator, who is from North-west, Amshi was the least experienced, when compared to Emordi, who apart from being a senator twice, was the presidential liaison to President Jonathan for four years.
Querying whether the chairman must come from Yobe State, the third senator, also from North-west said, “Adamu Fika, a former Clerk of the National Assembly and former Permanent Secretary, is from Fika in Yobe State and the new chairman is from Bade local government. Where is the Federal Character in all this?”
Commenting also, National Publicity Secretary of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Kola Ologbondiyan, called on President Buhari to ensure that he kept to his oath of office by guaranteeing the Federal Character principle in his appointments.
“PDP believes in one and invisible Nigeria. The president should be guided to ensure the principle of equity and fairness as enunciated in the Federal Character principle. He should be fair in the performance of his duties,” Ologbondiyan stated.
The aggrieved senators maintained that the issue would be revisited, when the Senate reconvenes in January, saying some of the issues can no longer be swept under the carpet.