Senate begins screening of ambassadorial nominees

The Senate, yesterday, resolved to begin immediate consideration and screening of the 47 ambassadorial nominees sent to it by President Muhammadu Buhari last month.

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The decision followed the adoption of the recommendations of the Com­mittee on Foreign Affairs mandated to investigate the 37 petitions forwarded to the Senate on alleged lop-sidedness in the nomination.

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Buhari sent the list for approval on June 9. However, petitions trailed the nominations over alleged disregard for federal character principle and non-representation of states like Bayelsa, Benue, Kogi, Ondo, Plateau and Taraba among others.

When the Senate Foreign Affairs committee eventually invited the Sec­retary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Babachir David Lawal and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama to explain why some states were exempted, the duo did not show up.

After a hide and seek game, the two top officials in President Buhari’s government eventually honoured the Senate committee’s invitation. In their explanations, they said those selected were chosen based on merits, arguing that the states excluded did not have qualified people to fill the slot.

The Chairman of the committee, Shehu Sani, said from the committee’s investigation, due process was followed in appointing the nominees.

He said the SGF informed the com­mittee that states without nominees had no qualified persons for appointment as career ambassadors based on set guidelines.

He said most senior officers from the states affected either did not meet the required minimum of 30 months to their retirement or fell short of other criteria.

However, the lawmaker said Mr. Lawal gave the assurance that Mr. Buhari would address the seeming lop-sidedness with the appointment of non-career ambassadors.

The Senate, thereafter, adopted the recommendations of the committee through a voice vote and resolved to commence screening of the nominees as soon as possible.

The committee recommended that the Senate proceed with the screening, while urging the Federal Government to quickly submit the list of non-career ambassadors.

It also urged the Federal Govern­ment to sustain the tradition of submit­ting the list of non-career ambassadors alongside that of career ambassadors.

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