Senate okays Debo Adesina, 39 others as ambassadors
• Moves to review Take-or-Pay power purchase pact
The Senate yesterday confirmed the appointment of The Guardian’s former editor, Mr. Debo Adesina and 39 others as non-career ambassadors-designate.
The upper legislative chamber also approved the nomination of Mr. Suleiman Sani from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as career ambassador.
The development was a sequel to the consideration of the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs chaired by Adamu Bulkachuwa (Bauchi North).
President Muhammadu Buhari, in a letter to the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan recently, said the appointment of the nominees was in accordance with section 171 (1),(2)(c) and subsection (4) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
Bulkachuwa said some of the nominees, who are not in the country, were screened through virtual communication. They were asked general questions on diplomacy and foreign relations.
He explained that the confirmation of the nominees from Yobe and Niger states were suspended pending the resolution of issues surrounding their nomination.
The lawmaker said the remaining 39 nominees answered the questions posed to them satisfactorily and were, therefore, recommended for confirmation.
The senator representing FCT, Philip Aduda, however, protested the non- inclusion of anyone from FCT in the list of non-career ambassadors-designate.
Lawan assured him that nomination for the ambassadorial post was not foreclosed.
The non-career ambassadors-designate confirmed by the Senate include Umar Suleiman (Adamawa); Kelvin Peter (Adamawa); Chief Elejah Onyeagba (Anambra); Prof. Monique Ekpong (Cross River); Ominyi N. Eze (Ebonyi);
Yamah Mohammed Musa (Edo); Maj. Gen. C. O. Ugwu (Enugu); Dr. Hajara I. Salim (Gombe); Amb. Yahaya Lawal (Katsina); Ademola Seriki (Lagos); Chief Sarafa Tunji Ishola (Ogun); Adejare Bello (Osun); John Usanga (Akwa Ibom); Hamisu Umar Takalmawa (Kano); Philip Ikurusi (Bayelsa); Tarzcor Terhemen (Benue); Al-Bishir Ibrahim Al-Hussain (Borno); Obiezu Ijeoma Chinyerem (Imo); Ali M. Magashi (Jigawa) and Prof. M. A. Makarfi (Kaduna).
Others are Henry John Omaku (Nasarawa); Sadiya Ahmad Nuhu (Kano); Adeshina Alege (Oyo); Shehu Abdullahi Yibaikwai (Plateau); Maureen Tamuno (Rivers), Faruk Yabo (Sokoto); Abubakar Moriki (Zamfara); Adamu M. Hassan (Taraba); Abubakar D. Ibrahim Siyi (Bauchi); Paul Oga Adikwu (Benue); Jazuli Imam Galadanci (Kano); Dare Sunday Awoniyi (Kogi); Ibrahim Kayode Laaro (Kwara), Abioye Bello (Kwara); Zara Maazu Umar (Kwara); Mrs. Nimi Akinkugbe (Ondo); Debo Adesina (Oyo); Ms. Folakemi Akinyele (Oyo); and Oma Djebah (Delta).
Suleiman Sani (FCT) is a career ambassador.
Also yesterday, the senate resolved to explore legal advice to review the Take-or -Pay Power Purchase Agreement signed in the early part of President Buhari’s administration in December 2015.
The Federal Government signed the pact with Azura-Edo IPP, a private power-generating company, to enable it to secure a $237million loan to finance its 450MW project in Edo State.
Adopting a wide range of recommendations made by its committee on power, headed by Gabriel Suswam, the senate lamented that the government signed “such a dangerous” agreement that had put Nigeria at a high economic loss.
During debate on the report, many lawmakers said it was time to find a legal escape route out of the tight corner.
But the push towards a radical review of the agreement suffered a serious setback as senators who were more informed about the agreement revealed that the country could suffer a loss of about $1.2billion if it forcefully reneged on the terms of the agreement.
The upper legislative chamber, therefore, resolved to set up a committee of lawyers to study all the agreements and make further recommendations to it.
Suswam, who intervened severally to prevent the senate from erring in its resolutions, explained that there were serious issues involved.
On the Azura and ACU Gas agreements which he said were signed between 2016 and 2017, Suswam explained that the government should not have signed the pacts.
“What it means is this, for instance, Azura is a power plant that is supposed to produce or generate 450 megawatts. What the agreement means is that even if we are unable to take that 450 megawatts, we will still pay the full price. And that is what has been happening. The agreement is called take or pay.
“It is the same thing for ACU gas which is an agreement signed with Calabar Power Plant and it is guaranteed by the World Bank. For instance, in Azura they have about three generators, if only one is producing, it is not their fault; it is because the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) cannot evacuate the power.
“They are generating, they are ready to give power, unfortunately, we are not prepared and we signed that agreement. If they can only give 100 megawatts, we are to pay for the full 450mw,” Suswam said.
He lamented that $30 million is expended every month “for power that we are not necessarily getting.”
Suswam informed the Senate that on both sides, there was a breach of the agreement.
In his contribution to the debate, Bashiru Ajibola, a lawyer, said Nigeria could pull out of the contract but must seek the opinion of the best international legal experts.
He said Nigeria should not be afraid of seeking legal means out of the “bad deal”, especially when the partners had also not sufficiently fulfilled their own part of the contract.
Another lawyer, Ike Ekweremadu, agreed that Nigeria could buy its way out of the situation.
Troubled by the situation, Lawan called for a review of all the existing contracts with a view to finding soft landing.
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