The suspension of Senate plenary will delay the confirmation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commissioner-nominees for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for 35 days, Daily Trust reports.
The Senate had on October 20 adjourned plenary till November 24 to allow Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to defend their respective budget proposals for the 2021 fiscal year before the relevant committees.
President Buhari had in a letter dated October 12, requested for the confirmation of four commissioner-nominees for the electoral body. The nominees are Prof. Muhammad Sani Kallah (commissioner), Katsina; Lauretta Onochie, Presidential Aide on Social Media (commissioner), Delta; Prof. Kunle Cornelius Ajayi (commissioner), Ekiti; and Saidu Babura Ahmad (Resident Electoral Commissioner), Jigawa.
The nomination was made a few days to the expiration of the tenure of the chairman of the electoral body, Professor Mahmood Yakubu and five national commissioners.
President Buhari had on November 9, 2015, sworn in Yakubu and five national commissioners; Mrs Amina Bala Zakari (Jigawa) North-west; Dr. Antonia Taiye Okoosi-Simbile (Kogi), North-central; Alhaji Baba Shettima Arfo (Borno), North-east; Dr. Mohammed Mustafa Lecky (Edo), South-south; and Prince Adedeji Solomon Soyebi (Ogun), South-west.
With the adjournment of plenary, the confirmation of the nominees may not be possible until November 24, 15 days after the tenure of some of the commissioners would have lapsed.
As customary, after the president’s letter seeking confirmation of nominees is read on the floor of the Senate, the request will be referred to the relevant committee of the parliament on the next legislative day for further action.
Since the president’s letter seeking the confirmation of the INEC nominees was read on the floor of the Senate on October 13, no action has been taken on it. The screening of nominees is expected to be conducted by the Senate Committee on INEC chaired by Senator Kabiru Gaya (APC, Kano).
Daily Trust reports that after the screening of the nominees by the committee, the report would be presented during plenary for confirmation or otherwise.
Contacted on the matter, the Senate spokesman, Ajibola Basiru, said “Should this be the priority of the Senate, please now?”
It could be recalled that discontent has trailed the nomination of Lauretta Onochie, the Presidential Aide on Social Media. The senators were divided over her nomination as the opposition lawmakers said the presidential aide was a card carrying member of the APC.
The Senate Minority Caucus has rejected Onochie’s nomination. Senate Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe said by nominating his aide, President Buhari has “willfully gone against the constitution”. He urged the president to withdraw the nomination.