Senate Confirms Ex-Service Chiefs as Ambassadors

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The Upper Chamber of the National Assembly on Tuesday confirmed the appointment of all the immediate Ex-Service Chiefs as ambassadors. 

They former Service Chiefs include the Chief of Defence Staff, Gabriel Olonisakin; former Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai; former Chief of Air Staff, Ibok Ibas; and former Chief of Naval Staff, Abubakar Sadique, Air Vice Marshal Muhammad S.Usman (Rtd).

The Chairman of the Committee, Adamu Bulkachuwa, presenting the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs to the Senate on the confirmation, noted that their appointments were made in line with section 171(40) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

“Their experiences as Service Chiefs and in the military where they rose to the highest ranks in their careers have made them eminently qualified; and that the nominees were very knowledgeable and articulate in their response to questions directed at them by the Committee,”

Bulkachuwa said.

He also added that the committee had carefully and thoroughly screened the nominees and is satisfied with their qualification, conduct character and general performance as well as their indepth display of international military diplomacy.

There was a petition with the house urging the lawmakers not to confirm the nominees because of Senate’s past votes of no confidence in the ex-service chiefs over their failures to contain terrorism, banditry and kidnappings was ignored by the Upper Chamber. 

However, Bulkachuwa disclosed in the report that “the Committee received petitions against their nominations as Non-Career Ambassadors of the Federal Republic of Nigeria but the petitions were dismissed.”

The Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, while coming under a point of order, demanded explanation as to the rationale behind the dismissal of the petition against the nominees by the Committee, particularly against the backdrop of the Senate resolutions in the past calling for their removal as Service Chiefs.

Urging the Senate to protect its integrity by sustaining its no confidence vote, Abaribe said that the upper chamber had in the past insisted that the former service chiefs were grossly incompetent in the performance of their last assignments, adding that the Senate would do a great disservice to its integrity if it clears the Nominees.

But without waiting to hear the comments of Bulkachuwa, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, interrupted proceedings and provided detailed explanations on why the Senate must confirm the nominees. 

Lawan pointed out that the Senate resolution demanding their removal was in no way related to President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for the Senate to confirm them as Ambassadors-Designate, adding that, “these are two separate roles.

“Without prejudice to what the executive will do, where we need to fight the Boko Haram insurgency and banditry, because of their experience in the field, they should be able to interact very closely and sufficiently to advice and create the atmosphere for working together, for partnership and cooperation between Nigeria and those countries.

“So, I think on that scope, the nomination cannot be nullified because we said they should be changed,” Lawan said.

The nominees were, thereafter, confirmed after a motion moved by the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, to that effect and seconded by the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe.

The Senate President in his remarks after the nominees were confirmed, advised the executive arm of government to deploy them to countries where their experiences as former military officers would be required.

“The nominees that we have just confirmed are nominees that have served this great country to the best of their ability as Service Chiefs and today, they have been confirmed as Non-Career Ambassadors.

“Our appeal to the executive is to make sure that we utilize their experiences as military men to the best, because we should be able to post them to countries where they can be much more useful in their engagements as Ambassadors,” Lawan added.