•Says other Presidents lobby to confirm their appointees
By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, yesterday gave a hint as to why the Senate refused to confirm the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, who was nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari.
This is even as he told the newly elected lawmakers that their first assignment would be at the National Assembly on the day of inauguration, advising them not to honour any meeting outside the federal parliament on the day of their inauguration.
Saraki stated these when he responded to questions by the newly elected lawmakers during an induction programme for the new lawmakers held in Abuja.
He said when a nominee of the executive is rejected by legislators, the executive should either explore the option of lobby or nominate a fresh candidate.
“Most of the decisions especially confirmation, is usually taken by the members. In other countries the executive there are seen to be lobbying the legislators. When they have a candidate, they will go and lobby to get in their preferred choice appointed”, Saraki said.
He emphatically said that the legislators reserve the powers as enshrined in the Constitution to either reject or approve the nomination of the President, but pointed out that such powers which is erroneously perceived to be with the leadership of the parliament, is actually with the members of the parliament.
“There is also a wrong perception that the leadership of the senate has those powers. The powers of the presiding officers are in the members. It is the members that decide the leadership of the National Assembly”, Saraki said.
“The truth really is that the issue of confirmation whether ministerial or other appointments, is done by the entire senate.
Generally, we have an unwritten practice that we would get the input of senators from the state where the appointee hails from before we start the screening process in the senate.
“By the powers of the senate if such a nominee is rejected, then it is upon the executive to find a new replacement. The issue really is that the senate has the powers to reject a ministerial nominee.
“In the case of the appointment of the Chairman of the EFCC, the powers of the senate is very clear in the Constitution. For any nominee, we are guided by the constitution. It is an appointment made by Mr. President, subject to the confirmation of the senate, which means the senate has the powers to either say yes or say no.
“In a situation where the senate rejects, it is up to the executive at that time to send in a replacement or in some cases, when we have appointment rejected and the executive will re present before the senate but if the senators again, took a decision to reject the nominee, the appointment stands rejected.
“In things like this in a democracy, there must be a political solution, there must be dialogue. I think that is the most important thing. The senate has the power of confirmation. It is how to manage those issues that are the challenges. There will be many like that in the 9th Assembly. The question is how the executive and the legislators will work together and find a solution. It is the how in the relationship between the two arms of government”, he said.
On the noise about who becomes the next Senate President, Saraki said “we should not make too much news on the process of electing presiding officers, what is important is for the members of the senate to decide who is the best to lead them so that they can have stability.”
Meanwhile, the Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, speaking also at the induction ceremony, said “We are reaching out to all our colleagues, regardless of their political persuasions, after all we are supposed to work together. It is not just going to be a Senate for only the APC members, it is a senate that will consist of the APC, PDP, and YPP.
“Therefore we need everybody to support the genuine and laudable course of making Nigeria better. I will ensure that our administration is able to deliver laudable projects for Nigerians and the best way to achieve this is for all of us to work together”, he said.