It is not a sin for the executive to lobby the Senate for the confirmation of the immediate past service chiefs as non career ambassadors, a presidential aide has said.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Babajide Omoworare, said this in an interview with journalists on Monday, in a bid to justify the act of lobbying of lawmakers to get key requests approved.
President Muhammadu Buhari, had on Thursday, forwarded the names of Gabriel Olonisakin, former chief of defence staff; Tukur Buratai, former chief of army staff; Abubakar Sadique, former chief of air staff and Ibok Ibas, former chief of naval staff, to the senate for confirmation as non-career ambassadors.
The nominations came about one week after they resigned from service and their replacements were named.
The nominations sparked outrage among Nigerians with individuals and civil society groups condemning the president’s decision and rating low the performance of the ex-service chiefs amidst growing insecurity in the country.
The opposition party, PDP, had accused the Buhari administration of attempting to shield the ex-service chiefs from investigation and subsequent prosecution for alleged crimes against humanity.
But in reaction to public criticism, the presidency said the ex-military chiefs gave their best to the nation and would be remembered for that.
It also described the ambassadorial nomination as reward for “hard work and exceptional sacrifice.”
Lobbying not sin
While he feigned ignorance as to whether or not the presidency is lobbying the Senate for the nominees’ confirmation, Mr Omoworare expressed confidence that the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs will confirm them.
The presidential aide explained that lobbying in governance between the executive and the legislature is normal and practised in all democracies .
“I think if anybody says there is any lobbying going on as regards nominations of former service chiefs for ambassadorial appointments by Mr President, I am not aware,” Mr Omoworare said.
“But if there is lobbying going on for them to pass through the confirmation process, I sincerely think it is in order, it is not an aberration, it’s not a transgression, it’s not a sin for lobbying to occur.
“Having been service chiefs before, should they be nominated as ambassadors especially because they Senate and House of representatives have not been on the same page with them, it is normal. That does not mean they cannot be successful ambassadors.”
He said it was up to the lawmakers to determine whether or not, the nominees can be good representatives of Nigeria.
“For them to even be service chiefs it means they have attained some heights because being service chief is being at the pinnacle of their career which is an achievement.”
“The President must have done his home work very well on nominations of the former service chiefs which gives me the confidence that the appropriate committee of the Senate will confirm them at the end of the day,” he said.
On his part, the Senate Leader, Abdullahi Yahaya, said he could not comment on the decision of the committee because it is “made up of responsible and experienced senators who have also been ambassadors themselves.
“So they will know what is required for people to be appointed as ambassadors to represent the country in any country. They will work and bring the report to the Senate. I am sure all the questions will not escape the committee.
“I don’t want to preempt them. Let them do what is just and right and let them apply all the criteria for appointment of ambassadors for the country.”
The executive communication for the nominations will be read on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday, upon resumption. Thereafter, it will be referred to the Foreign Affairs Committee for screening of the nominees.
The panel will thereafter submit a recommendation as to whether or not the nominations should be approved or rejected.
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