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Published On: Fri, Jul 20th, 2018

Senate to probe alleged abuse of Federal character principle

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  • As Buhari writes it for appointment confirmation

By Musa Adamu and Ikechukwu Okaforadi

Senate yesterday resolved to probe allegations of abuse of federal character principle by some Lawmakers.

The chamber was thrown into rowdy session after the President if the Senate, Bukola Saraki, read a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari, requesting confirmation of appointment of some Nigerians into Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) and/Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC) Boards.
Buhari had nominated a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Tunde Lemo, as Chairman of FERMA as well as six others.
The letter reads: “in accordance with the provision of Section 2 of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (Amendment) Act 2007, I forward herewith the nominations of a Chairman, a Managing Director and six (6) representatives drawn from each of the six (6) Geo Political Zones as members of the Governing Board of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency for confirmation by the Senate.”
Buhari also nominated Dr. Tukur Ingawa (Katsina) as Chairman of FCSC and Sen. Abba Ali (Katsina) and Mohammed Sagir (Niger) as members of the FJSC.
He also nominated Banire Muiz Adeyemi (Lagos), as Chairman of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and Chief Olabode Akeem Mustapha (Ogun), Chairman of Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC).
But, hardly had Sen Saraki finished reading the letter did the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, raised a point of order alleging that Buhari’s appointments were focused more on a particular region of Nigeria.
Ekweremadu pointed out that most of the appointments made by the current administration were not in line with the Federal Character Principle, citing S. 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution to back his argument.
Supporting Ekweremadu, Sen. Chukwuka Utazi, further argued that the appointments had been lopsided and favouring a particular region of the country.
Leader of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, who also relied on a point of order, however, countered Ekweremadu’s allegation, insisting that the Deputy President of the Senate did not look at the bigger picture before jumping into such conclusions.
Urging Ekweremadu to remove his mind from the narrow picture, Sen. Lawan told him to look at all other appointments in other agencies before alleging that the Federal Character Principle was not followed in the appointments.
The President of the Senate, Saraki, while trying to calm the situation, pointed out that observations by the lawmakers could only be considered as the personal opinion of those raising them.
He said: “We are just speculating, we are on the same page. Let us first get a document from Federal Character then we can take action, if the Federal Character Reports suggests that the Deputy President of the Senate is right, then we suspend the consideration.”
He therefore, mandated the committee on Federal Character to carry out a comprehensive investigation on the appointments of President Buhari, adding that when the committee submits its report, then the lawmakers would have a basis to make allegations if it was established that there was need to.
He however, directed that the screening of the Civil Service Commission’s appointees be continued and directed the Committee on Federal Character to conclude it investigation and report back to the Senate on Tuesday.

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