By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu
Senate yesterday confirmed two of the three nominees appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari as Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
On the contrary, one of the nominees, Muyideen Olalekan, from Osun state was rejected by the lawmakers on the reason that he is a card carrying member of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Those confirmed by the senate were: Umar Muktar, who is from Borno state, while Serieke Johnson, who is from Bayelsa state, was also confirmed.
Submitting the report before the senate at plenary, the chairman of the Senate Committee on INEC, Kabiru Gaya (APC, Kano South), said the committee have gone through the resume of the nominees and believes they are qualified for the positions so appointed.
He however told the committee that the nominee from Osun has a petition against him for being a card carrying member of a political party, which he was said to have admitted publicly.
Gaya explained that for this reason, the committee decided to stand down the screening of the nominee, adding that the rest of the nominees were successful at the screening and should be confirmed as recommended by the committee.
However, the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo Agege, cautioned against rejecting the nomination of the President, saying that even during the screening, the petitioner was not available to lead in testimony against the nominees, even though such opportunity was given.
On this note, the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia South), said by the tone of the report indicated clearly that the committee members were just being tactical in telling the President to replace the nominee.
He said during the interaction, the nominee admitted that he was a card carrying member of APC, arguing that it is out of place to think that because the petitioner was not around to defend the petition, the nominee ceases to be an APC member.
He said the President should understand the standing down of the nominee from Osun as rejection and bring another nominee for screening and confirmation.
Speaking also, the Bala Ibn N’Alla (APC, Jigawa), said there are constitutional requirement for appointing members of the INEC REC, adding that the senate should consider if such conditions were complied with or not.
He said the chairman of the committee on INEC is a ranking and experienced member whose report should not be stepped down. He urged the senate to take into account the time and resources put in to arrive at the recommendations and do the needful to the respect nominees.
Sequel to these interjections, the senate confirmed two of the nominees from Borno and Bayelsa states and rejected one nominee from Osun state.
In his remarks after the confirmation, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said INEC and National Assembly have to work together to sanitize the electoral process to have a healthy electoral environment in Nigeria.