Thursday, 8th December 2022
Breaking News:

Why NASS should stop Ex-service chiefs’ confirmation as envoys

By Eno-Abasi Sunday, Seye Olumide (Lagos), Lawrence Njoku (Enugu), Adamu Abuh, Terhemba Daka (Abuja)
07 February 2021   |   4:30 am
Calls for the National Assembly (NASS) to decline confirmation of the immediate past service chiefs as non-career ambassadors-designate reached a crescendo, yesterday...

• Presidency Fumes Over PDP’s Attack On Former Service Chiefs 
• Stop This Shameful Reward For Mediocrity, Junaid Mohammed Tells Lawmakers
• Nomination Indicates APC Is Hiding Something From Nigerians – ADC
• Buhari’s Action Shows He Loathes Hard Work, Abhors Excellence – Ibegbu

Calls for the National Assembly (NASS) to decline confirmation of the immediate past service chiefs as non-career ambassadors-designate reached a crescendo, yesterday, with appeals by prominent Nigerians to the lawmakers to save the country the embarrassment of rewarding mediocrity.

At least on three occasions, the NASS via resolutions, asked Buhari to do away with the service chiefs that it contended had reached their wits’ end, as reflected in their inability to arrest the worsening insecurity that engulfed the country.

Instead, Buhari surprisingly nominated the brass hats as envoys last Thursday and asked the National Assembly to treat their confirmation as matter of national urgency.

Those whose names were forwarded to the Senate for confirmation are Gen Abayomi Olonisakin (rtd.), Lt Gen Tukur Buratai (rtd.), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas (rtd.), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar (rtd.) and Air Vice Marshal Mohammed S Usman (rtd.).

According to a cross section of Nigerians, who spoke to The Guardian, since it appears that the President has a knack for rewarding nonchalance and mediocrity, it was time the lawmakers stopped him on his track.

Specifically, while elder statesman, Dr. Junaid Mohammed urged NASS to stop the attempt to reward mediocrity and failure to the detriment of the country, spokesman of the National Consultative Front (NCFront), Dr. Yinusa Tanko, who described the scenario as very interesting and irreconcilable stressed, “I cannot see any credible thing that would have warranted Buratai and others to be named ambassadors.”

The Board of Trustees (BOT) Chairman, World Igbo Peoples Assembly (WIPA), Mazi Chuks Ibegbu, wants the National Assembly to reject the nominations, as it is not in the interest of the country, stressing that the action is a clear indication that Nigerians are not Buhari’s primary concerns.

But the Emeritus President of Aka Ikenga, Chief Goddy Uwazuruike, who said that the retired military chiefs nomination for ambassadorial posts came like a thunderbolt, however, added that the anxiety of the Senate leaders to please President Buhari meant that their confirmation was a done deal.

On his part, the National Chairman, African Democratic Congress (ADC), Chief Ralph Nwosu, said nominating the retired military chiefs as envoys calls for a deep reflection by Nigerians, as “there is something that the APC-led government is hiding from Nigerians.”

He added that advising the Senate to reject the nominees is like talking to the wind. “The Senate is APC and it knows what we Nigerians don’t know yet. I don’t think I want to waste my time saying the upper chamber should not confirm them.”
THE Presidency, yesterday, upbraided the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for its criticism of the nomination of the immediate past service chiefs to serve as non-career ambassadors.

Descending angrily on the PDP, the Presidency specifically faulted the attacks by the party over what it describes as “widely praised” nomination of the former heads of the army, navy, air force and the military intelligence to the Senate for confirmation.

“This transition is normal in decent democratic societies,” the Presidency said in a statement signed by Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu. 

“But the newspapers and online media are full of pages of laughable criticisms of the president and former service chiefs by the party, the latest of which was the false claim that they were nominated as ambassadors so as to shield them from trial by the International Criminal Court, ICC.

“How on earth can decent people run down hardworking professionals, who have put in their best to defend their country? How can you run down your country and equate that with normal political dialogue and opposition?

“What is baffling about this false and baseless assertion is that this is coming, not from Boko Haram terrorists, who the military kept largely in check and confined to a known section of the country, Sambisa, but from a so-called leading opposition party that fraudulently kept power for 16 years, and is nursing the hope of one day returning to office as an elected government.

“What is more, under these corrupt politicians, the insurgency conquered large swathes of territory-18 Local Government Areas.

“Pray, if a political party, in a blind search for power can spurn the interest of the nation, embrace the language of hate campaign against the country’s military as enunciated by the terrorists, as the PDP does, what will be left for the Boko Haram to do?  PDP is doing Boko Haram’s work!”

DESPITE claims by the Presidency that Buhari was rewarding hard work and exceptional sacrifice by a set of military leaders, Mohammed, a Second Republic Minority Leader, and Chairman House Committee on Foreign Affairs said the NASS should do their best to stop the country from being internationally embarrassed by the appointments.

“The National Assembly should come to the aid of this country and save us the impending embarrassment by enacting a law that forbids retired generals, especially service chiefs from being involved in political appointments until after a certain number of years. Americans have this in place and it has served them very well.

“For example, in the United States of America (USA), if a General leaves service, he is not allowed to take any governmental appointment until after seven years of leaving office. And if the need arises for him to take an appointment at the request of the president, there has to be a waiver from the Congress. 

“For example, two of the most recent defense secretaries, the first one appointed by Donald Trump was one General James Mattis, but because he had not done up to seven years out of service, a formal request was sent to congress to grant him a waiver, and that was how he became defense secretary before later parting company with Trump.

“The current defense secretary, Admiral Lloyd Austin, appointed two weeks ago, confirmed last week, and sworn in left service only five years ago. So, he hasn’t done the required seven years, but his name had to be forwarded to Congress to get the waiver, before he was cleared by the Senate, and thereafter sworn into office. So, as far as I am concerned, Buhari’s appointment of the immediate past service chiefs as ambassadors was clearly an affront to public opinion.”

The Kano-born politician added: “So, if, however, they are determined to exercise their mandate of checking the executive, they should refuse to ratify the appointments of these non-career ambassadors-designate. That is the ideal thing to do, but given the fact that most of the senators and House of Representatives members are allegedly corrupt, I am not sure they can do the right thing. But the least they can do is to refuse to ratify these appointments.”

INSISTING that ex-service chiefs failed in their responsibilities, Tanko said: “I cannot see any credible things that would have warranted Buratai being appointed an ambassador. Buhari should explain to Nigerians why, and what these people were being compensated for. Or is it they didn’t plan coup against his administration?”
Tanko, who also expressed doubts about the Senate having the courage to reject the nominees “because of party affiliation and loyalty, otherwise my position is that the upper chamber should reject them outright. This is more so when the National Assembly was part of groups that piled pressure on President Buhari to remove them as service chiefs for lack of performance.”

IBEGBU, the Chairman, World Igbo Peoples Assembly (WIPA) BOT Chair in expressing shock at the nominations stated: “These people just left office as a result of the bitter outcry by Nigerians. It is expected that they should go and take a deserved rest so that they can truly reflect on why Nigerians insist they should exit office. But instead of doing that, the president is trying to give them more glory. There is nothing wrong in giving such appointments to people that are retired and not tired, but these people have retired and are tired. Assuming that they were not tired, it would have be a different ball game because everybody is important. In the army and elsewhere, if you are retired, you can be recalled to serve if you are good. Whether they are career or non-career ambassadors, they will go there to represent the people that had already passed vote of no confidence on these Generals.”

He continued: “This development does not augur well for our country. It does not encourage hard work. It means we don’t like excellence. I expected the President to have allowed them some time to rest so that when they are found to be useful again, they can be engaged in other areas. It should not be immediate. I don’t see the rationale, and if I were them, I would reject the appointment and go take some rest. They were overworked hence their outputs declined and diminishing returns set in. It is mockery on the country. You cannot be engaging people that have shown that they no longer have something to offer. The president did not consult properly.

“The National Assembly knows that these people have nothing to offer any longer. We were told they were sacked. If one is sacked, it means there is a question mark on the person. But reassigning them means that our president has made himself to appear ambivalent, and not flowing with the mood of the people. He should go a step further and apologise to them for removing them. It is unacceptable to me,” he said.

ON his part, President, Civil Rights Realization and Advancement Network (CRRAN), Mr. Olu Omotayo, said: “We urge the National Assembly not to confirm the nomination of the past service chiefs for ambassadorial position. It should be noted that security situation in Nigeria became worse on their watch and their removal was great news to Nigerians though belated.

“Appointing these tired men again to public offices is like compensating incompetence because events of the past few years show that security apparatus in the country was completely overwhelmed by insurgency, banditry and all forms of crimes; incessant killings of innocent citizens and destruction of property. It should be noted that the most important thing in any democracy is the protection of lives and property of citizens, which is lacking in present day Nigeria,” he said.  

UWAZURIKE, who expressed doubts about NASS’ ability to side with the people against the president’s wish said: “I therefore think that whatever the people think is irrelevant. Confirmation of any nominee is at the discretion of the Senate. But the power must be exercised conscientiously. The clamour for the removal of the military chiefs had reached fever pitch before the president condescendingly removed them from their posts through retirement.”

But a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Chekwas Okorie, said that by nominating the immediate past service chiefs as non-career ambassadors, the president exercised his presidential prerogative, stressing that the call on the National Assembly to reject their nomination is unfair and will not succeed.

“He has not breached the law or constitution of Nigeria. The Senate is under obligation to consider their nominations on the basis of merit, qualification and capacity. The ball is right now in the court of the Senate to activate its screening and approval processes. The option open to those expressing negative sentiments against the nomination of the former service chiefs as ambassadors is to lobby the Senators representing their constituencies to reject them at the floor of the Senate, but I do not see how they will succeed because the President’s action is neither illegal nor unconstitutional.”

THE President, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), Alhaji Yerima Shetima, said it was inconsequential to appraise or criticise the president over the decision because he has shown Nigerians on many occasions that our feelings or perceptions do not count whenever he makes up his mind on what to do.
He also said his advice to the Senate on the issue is not necessary because the National Assembly has demonstrated it is a rubber stamp institution on many occasions. “History will, however, judge our lawmakers on whatever decision they are going to take on this matter.”

A former federal lawmaker from Rivers State, Bernard Mikko, agrees with Okorie saying it was within Buhari’s constitutional power to appoint whoever he wants irrespective of the way Nigerians perceive such a nominee.

According to him, “As a one-time lawmaker, two critical things would play out in the Senate now as the names of the ex-service chiefs would be sent for confirmation.
“The first critical issue is party loyalty and I want to assure you that all APC lawmakers may likely display their loyalty to the party. Second, is the issue of numbers, which would determine where the majority would go. Another sensitive issue that will play out in the Senate is for the lawmakers to say, these guys may have failed in applying military tactics and might to address the challenges of insecurity, but what if they have the diplomatic prowess that could be deployed to the benefits of the nation in their new postings? These are what would play out and it doesn’t matter what anyone says.”
SPOKESMAN of the Middle Belt Forum, Dr. Isuwa Dogo, said there must have been a secret agenda why President Buhari does not want the ex-service chiefs to leave the corridor of power.
Dogo, who spoke in his personal capacity, and not on behalf of the Middle Belt Forum, said: “It appears there is a cult-like approach to governance under the present administration, and he never wants his own to exit the corridor of power. I hope they are not posted to countries that are vital to the development of Nigeria otherwise what is President Buhari trying to achieve.”