Showdown Looms In Senate Over Appointment Of Buratai, Others As Envoys

The Senate appears poised for a showdown with President Muhammadu Buhari over his nomination of the recently retired service chiefs as non-career ambassadors.

Some senators, The Nation gathered, are mobilising efforts to block the confirmation of the retired military chiefs whose sack they relentlessly called for until their replacement on January 26.

The Senate’s anger with former Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin (rtd); former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai (rtd); former Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas (rtd) and former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar (rtd), is shared by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The PDP position on the former service chiefs on Saturday drew the ire of the Presidency, with Aso Rock Villa saying the opposition party was now doing Boko Haram’s work with its ceaseless criticism of President Buhari and the former military chiefs.

Senate Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe, speaking ahead of the debate on the nomination of the immediate past service chiefs, wondered why the federal government wants to reward non-performance.

Senate spokesman Surajudeen Ajibola Basiru said the Senate decision would be based on the recommendation of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs.

He said the Senate should be allowed to do its job while those who may not be happy with what Senate may do are free to seek redress in court.

The Nation gathered that intense lobbying has commenced to soften the ground for the confirmation of the nominees.

Abaribe said: “We cannot preempt what will happen, because when it comes, it will go to the committee on Foreign Affairs and the committee of foreign affairs will look at everything including the outcries, and then bring a report which the Senate will debate.

“So, we won’t be able to say anything until we have seen the committee’s report. If people are against it, they ought to present their respective views to the committee, and they can present to any Senator to give to the committee so that on that basis, the committee will be well versed to make recommendations.

“You know the unfortunate thing is that people talk and then will never follow it up. So all the CSOs and all the other people who are against it should articulate their views and bring it up to us. So that by the time we now start to make a deliberation on it, we will be very well informed.”

Reminded that the Senate previously asked President Buhari to sack those now nominated for ambassadorial positions for non-performance when they were service chiefs, Abaribe said: “As far as we are concerned, all that has happened is that some people are being rewarded for non-performance. And that is a pity for the APC government that they would reward non-performance.

“Of course, when the matter comes, like I said, we won’t preempt whatever the committee will do.”

But Basiru asked: “Are they not entitled to being nominated?”

On the call by Senate that the nominees be sacked for non-performance while they were Service Chiefs, Basiru said: “We said they should be sacked as Service Chiefs. We did not say that they are not qualified for other purposes.

“There is nothing wrong and untoward about nominating them for appointment as ambassadors designate.