The four states omitted from President Muhammadu Buhari’s list of
ambassadorial nominees sent to the National Assembly had no qualified
candidates, Babachir Lawal, the Secretary to the Government of the
Federation (SGF), has said during an interaction with journalists in
Abuja at the weekend.
The four states without nominees are Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Ondo and Plateau.
criteria had been set by the Presidency to pick nominees and the four
states without nominees have no career diplomats in the Foreign Service
who met the objective,” the SGF said.
“Four states didn’t make it
one way or the other; however, not necessarily on the criteria of
seniority. There are criteria and qualifications that are required to
post you to go and represent Nigeria, not just because while in the
Foreign Service or the civil service you were able to make Grade Level
16 or 17, quite a number of qualifications are needed. So even if you
make that retirement criteria, service length or rank criteria, there
are other criteria,” he explained.
The Senate had last week suspended
the confirmation of the list of 47 ambassadorial nominees forwarded by
President Buhari earlier in the month.
They argued that the nominations were not reflective of the Federal character principle. Four states had no nominees.
Senate had proceeded to summon the SGF and Geoffrey Onyeama, Foreign
Affairs Minister. They are to appear before the upper chamber on July 11
to explain the inconsistencies in the list.
Lawal said the
Executive was disappointed that the Senate decided to suspend the
screening of the 47 ambassadorial nominees when the issues could have
been sorted out with only a phone call.
“Certainly, we will
appear, we are law abiding, we respect the National Assembly and we
respect the laws of the land. One thing, however, is clear, the
Constitution makes it clear that it is the prerogative of the President
to nominate Ambassadors and the criteria he will use to do so is also
the constitutional right of the President. Whatever criteria he chooses
to use is constitutional.
“I must say that we are disappointed
that the National Assembly took the decision it took but at the last
count my recollection is that out of the 47 diplomat nominees, the 36
states were represented. Out of 36 states and the Federal Capital
Territory, while the constitution preaches federal character, it does
not say that every state must be represented in any appointment, except
of course in the case of ministers. Not in all other appointments, so
the spirit of the constitution has been fully satisfied by having 32
ambassadors out of 36 plus one (FCT). I believe that every objective
analyst will agree with this,” Lawal said.