Lawmakers at the National Assembly have confirmed the appointment of immediate past military bosses including Gen Abayomi Olonisakin (Rtd), Lt Gen Tukur Buratai (Rtd), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas (Rtd), and Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar (Rtd), as non-career ambassadors-designate.
The lawmakers’ approval followed the consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Mohammed Bulkachuwa.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, had barely two weeks after accepting their resignation as Nigeria’s service chiefs, explained that their nomination was in line with the provision of section 171 (1), (2) (c) & sub-section (4) of 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
Buhari, through a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said that names of the service chiefs to the National Assembly for consideration and confirmation.
According to him, the presidential request to the Senate also included the name of the retired Chief of Defense Intelligence, Air Vice Marshal Mohammed Usman (Rtd).
“In accordance with section 171 (1), (2) (c) & sub-section (4) of 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, I have the honour to forward for confirmation by the Senate, the under-listed five (5) names of nominees as Non-Career Ambassadors-Designate.
“The nominees are: Gen Abayomi G. Olonisakin (Rtd ), Lt Gen Tukur Y. Buratai (Rtd), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas (Rtd), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar (Rtd), and Air Vice Marshal Mohammed S. Usman (Rtd). The President urged the Senate to give expeditious consideration to the nominations,” Adesina quoted Buhari’s letter to President of the Senate, Ibrahim Lawan, to have read.
But considering the Bulkachuwa-led committee report on Tuesday, the Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, questioned the senate rationale for dismissing the petition against the non-career ambassador-designate.
Responding to Abaribe inquiry, the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, said that the petition against the ex-service chiefs while leading the nation’s military does not affect their ambassadorial nominations.
“I checked our resolutions and in some of our resolutions, we said the President should change, replace and remove them as Service Chiefs. They have been removed which I think it’s a plus for this Senate.
“Now if they are nominated for something that is different, I think our resolutions asking for their removal as Service Chiefs does not crossover to their nomination. On that call, the nominations cannot be nullified because we said they should be changed,” he said.
Earlier in his presentation, Bulkachuwa said that their appointments were made in line with section 171(40) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
He added that though there were petitions against the former service chiefs, their service to the nation and achievements in the military career sets them apart.
“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,” he said.