The Senate, on Tuesday, considered President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for the confirmation of 27 nominees as Resident Electoral Commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and three non-career ambassadorial nominees.
The consideration came after the chamber, on March 28, 2017, suspended the consideration for two weeks to protest the retention of Mr. Ibrahim Magu as acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission despite the rejection of his nomination by the legislature.
The Presidency, after Senate’s rejection, had insisted on Magu as the acting Chairman of the EFCC.
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who presided over the plenary on Tuesday, also announced that the chamber would screen the two ministerial nominees sent to it by Buhari for confirmation on Wednesday.
The Senate President had, at the plenary on March 29, 2017, read a letter from President Buhari, seeking legislative confirmation for the nomination of Prof. Stephen Ocheni (Kogi State) and Mr. Suleiman Hassan (Gombe State) as ministers.
The slots of Kogi and Gombe states in the federal became vacant following the death of the Minister of State for Labour, Mr. James Ocholi (SAN), on March 6, 2016, and the appointment of a former Minister of Environment, Ms Amina Mohammed, as the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations.
The ambassadorial nominees, whose confirmation request was also considered on Tuesday, were retired Justice Sylvanus Nsofor (Imo/renomination); Joseph Iji (Ondo/replacement); and retired Commodore Yusuf Hinna (Gombe/replacement).
While the appointments of some RECs are new, others are reappointed.
Those on new appointments are Prof. Godswill Obioma (Abia), Ibrahim Abdullahi (Adamawa), James Apam (Benue), Nwachukwu Orji (Ebonyi), Iloh Valentine (Enugu), Asmau Maikudi (Katsina), Mahmuda Isa (Kebbi), Prof. Samuel Egwu (Kogi), Prof. Mustapha Zubairu (Niger), Agboke Mutiu (Ogun), Abdul-Ganiyu Olayinka (Oyo) and Prof. Riskuwa Shehu (Sokoto).
Others are Ahmad Mahmud (Zamfara), Nentewa Yilwatda (Plateau), Umar Ibrahim (Taraba), Emeka Ononamadu (Imo), Obo Effanga (Cross River), Prof. Francis Ezeonu (Anambra) and Briyia Frankland (Bayelsa).
Those for reappointment are Ahmad Makama (Bauchi), Mike Igini (Delta), Hussaini Pai (FCT), Sadiq Musa (Kaduna), Jibrin Zarewa (Kano), Rufus Akeju (Lagos), Sam Olumekun (Ondo) and Kasim Geidam (Yobe).
Speaking after the consideration of the request for RECs’ confirmation, Saraki called the attention of the lawmakers to the fact that there was no chairman for the INEC committee.
He thereafter named Senator Suleiman Nazif as Ndume’s replacement.
“Senator Suleiman Mohammed Nazif (Bauchi North) is the Chairman of INEC now and he is to report back (to the chamber on the nominations) in two weeks,” he said.
Saraki had named Ndume as Chairman of the Committee on INEC after the lawmaker’s removal as leader of the majority All Progressives Congress caucus, which translated to his removal as Majority Leader, in January 2017.
The caucus had named Senator Ahmad Lawan as Ndume’s successor.
A source in the leadership of the Senate, however, said the chamber had not backed down on the legal battle with the Presidency.
The source told our correspondent that the consideration and screening of the nominees did not mean automatic confirmation of the appointments, especially those not specifically spelt out by Section 171, which the Presidency had relied on to stick with Magu.
The source said, “As for the RECs, the suspension of the nominations was not indefinite; it was to protest the retention of Magu by the executive. If you observed, the Senate was silent on other nominations relating to the department and agencies waiting for confirmation.”