Senators say immediate past chairman was from the South South
The Nigerian Senate on Thursday rejected the nomination of Mfon Akpan by President Goodluck Jonathan as the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, bringing to the fore the high wire political intrigues that has trailed the selection of Mrs. Akpan.
She was to succeed Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru.
Mrs. Akpan’s name was submitted last week for screening to the National Assembly. But, some Senators, mostly from the Northern part of the country, opposed her nomination, compelling a motion for the issue to be referred to the relevant committee for screening.
Although the opposing senators claimed the rejection of the nomination was irreversible, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Ita Enang, said the nomination was still pending on the floor of the Senate.
Amidst the confusion, Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, moved a motion urging members to consider deferring deliberations on the nomination to another legislative day; but Kabiru Marafa (Zamfara Central) opposed it.
Mr. Marafa, who relied on Rule 45 of the Senate Standing Orders 2011, argued that a motion to defer a matter to another legislative day could only be approved by a vote of two-third of the Senate.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the session ruled Mr. Marafa out of order, saying it had not come to the time of raising an objection to the motion.
“We are not taking any vote. So, I completely rule you out of order,” he declared, before asking a member to second the motion to enable them make progress.
When the Senate Leader moved the motion a second time, it was seconded by Boluwaji Kunlere (Ondo South), but the motion was roundly defeated by the lawmakers, as the “nays” votes prevailed.
Obviously taken aback by the outcome of the vote, Mr. Ekweremadu called on the Senate Leader to move the motion, seconded by Mr. Marafa, for the nomination to be forwarded to the relevant committee for necessary legislative action.
However, when the motion was put to vote by Mr. Ekweremadu – that the nomination be sent to the relevant committee for necessary legislative work – the Senators again voted “nay”.
Mr. Enang, who is the Senator from the nominee’s state of origin, later explained that the nomination was still valid, because her confirmation and approval had not been rejected by the Senate. He assured that the Senate would take it at the “appropriate time.
“The motion was to send it to the committee and not for it to be approved or rejected. The nomination is still pending on the floor of the Senate until such a time when it is ready to take the request. The question was not for confirmation or rejection,” Mr. Enang said.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on the Drugs, Narcotics and Financial Crimes, Victor Lar, said Senators from the Northern part of the country were opposed to the nomination of Mrs. Akpan as the FIRS boss in the spirit of Federal Character Principle.
He said the longest serving Chairman of the FIRS, David Olorunleke, was from the Southwest, while the last occupant of the position, Mrs. Omoigui-Okauru, was from the South South/South East zone.
He noted that the Acting Chairman of FIRS, Kabir Mashi, from the North, appointed on acting capacity, should be appointed in the spirit of federal character.
“President Goodluck Jonathan has the prerogative of office to appoint any competent person to administer any Federal Government agency in the country. What we are saying is that in the spirit of a true federal character, a Northerner ought to have been nominated as the substantive chairman,” Mr. Lar said.
The issue of the appointment of FIRS Chairman reportedly topped the agenda of a meeting of Northern Senators on Wednesday night during which it was resolved that the appointment would be blocked through their numerical strength in the Senate.
Mr. Lar said that most of those who spoke at the closed door meeting underscored the fact that the slot of FIRS Chairman belonged to the North.
He said that majority of the lawmakers were of the view that the immediate past Chairman of FIRS came from the South South, though other lawmakers contended that it would be out of order to reconsider any matter that has been rejected on the floor of the Senate, except there was a motion for “rescission.”
Rule 53 (6) of the Senate Standing Orders (2011), states that “it shall be out of order to attempt to reconsider any specific question upon which the Senate has come to a conclusion during the current session, except upon a substantive motion for rescission.”
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...