The Senate on Thursday, directed its committee on Federal Character to probe all appointments of President Muhammadu Buhari, to establish alleged lopsidedness.
The Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu raised a point of Order alleging that Buhari’s appointments were focused more on a particular region of Nigeria.
In his statement, Ekweremadu was reacting to a letter from President Buhari seeking Senate’s confirmation of the appointment of a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Tunde Lemo, as Chairman, Federal Emergency Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) as well as six others.
After the President of the Senate read the letter, Ekweremadu immediately raised a point of Order to challenge the appointments, saying most of the appointments of the current administration were not in line with the Federal Character Principle.
The federal character principle according to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria stipulates: “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity.
Also relying on a point of order, the Leader of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, countered the DSP’s allegation saying that he should look at all other appointments before jumping into such conclusions.
He said that even where appointments in a particular agency may seem to favour a particular region, he urged the DSP to look at all other appointments in other agencies before alleging that the Federal Character Principle was being violated.
The President of the Senate Dr Bukola Saraki in his reaction, said that the observations could only be considered as the personal opinion of those raising them.
He argued that there was no clear document from which the senators could draw such conclusions and therefore suggested that the committee on Federal Character be mandated to carry out a comprehensive inquest on the appointments of President Buhari.
Saraki said that when the committee submits its report, then the lawmakers would have a basis to make allegations if it is established that there was need to.
Saraki’s intervention however did not douse the lawmakers’ agitation as the upper legislative chamber was thrown into a rowdy session with senators arguing on the top of their voices for, and against Ekweremadu’s arguments.
As the senate moved to begin the confirmation of the appointment of chairman and commissioners of the Federal Civil Service Commission, Sen. Mao Ohuabunwa also relying on a point of order, called on the Senate to suspend the consideration.
He argued that since they have agreed that senate to probe all the appointments of the current administration, the confirmation should be stepped down until the committee on federal character submits its report.
The second intervention of Saraki still did not put paid to the rowdy session or the agitation as Sen. Utazi, also relying on a point of order, went on to argue that if the appointment of the Board of FERMA was kept until the Character’s commission report is presented, it would only be fair that all screenings and considerations be suspended as well until the report is presented.
In a final intervention, Saraki upheld that the screening of the Civil Service Commission’s appointees be continued and directed the Committee on Federal Character to present its report in one week.
Coincidentally, both Sen. Tijjani Kaura, Chairman of the Federal Character Committee and the Vice Chairman were not present at the plenary.
Saraki therefore mandated other members of the committee who were present to pass the directive to the chairman and the vice chairman and ensure that they conclude their investigation and report back to the Senate at plenary on Tuesday.