Buhari and the many battles of his 46 nominated non-career envoy
This is not the best of time for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) as it strives to deflect bashings from the opposition amidst wrangling within its ranks.
Governors and senators elected on the platform of the APC, including those presumed to be close to President Muhammadu Buhari, are reportedly finding it tough to sneak their interests when it comes to appointments.
Observers said the recent nomination of 46 non-career ambassadors was a good example, even as the senators and governors recently started making moves to redefine how their relationship with the presidency would be.
If the voice of majority really worked in the National Assembly, the Senate would have thrown away the list of non-career ambassadorial nominees announced by President Buhari on October 20. Except for the veto of Senate President Bukola Saraki, the request of President Buhari for the confirmation would have been taken to the dustbin.
The motion for the consideration of the president’s request on the nominees was moved by the Senate leader, Ali Ndume, just a moment after the senators rejected his request on foreign loan.
The atmosphere at the Upper Chamber was still charged when Saraki put the question on whether the request should be considered or not; and as expected, the senators opposed it. Saraki repeated the question and the voice of those against it echoed with higher intensity that enveloped the whole chamber.
But dramatically, Saraki vetoed it by hitting the gavel in favour of those in support of transmitting the names to the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs for further action.
Senator Monsurat Sunmonu (APC, Oyo Central), whose committee is now saddled with the responsibility of perusing the names, was not given any timeframe to complete the onerous task.
No date has been fixed for the commencement of the screening of the nominees.
The committee had screened the career nominees in July; its report laid but hasn’t been debated yet, nearly four months after.
“There is doubt about the frosty relationship between the Senate and the executive, and each one is trying to exert its authority.
“And whether it is a trick or whatever, the Senate president and other principal officers are trying to appease the Presidency by conceding some of their rights; but there is resistance from the larger House,” a senator, who does not want to be named, said.
He said several issues forwarded by the executive for legislative action “have been held captive” at the National Assembly, saying it was aimed at forcing the Presidency to also soft-pedal on some issues. The senator said they may not approve the list in the foreseeable future.
Analysts believe that to a greater extent, by their action, the senators only spoke in tandem with the feelings of APC governors, who of recent, voiced their pains over Buhari’s alleged “lackadaisical” attitude towards them.
During the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) era, governors of the ruling party and even those in the opposition that had the ears of the president usually nominated ministers, ambassadors, board members and other appointments. With that, they were able to consolidate their political structures at the state level.
But the trend theatrically changed soon after Buhari won election. He clearly told governors to concentrate on their states, saying that inasmuch as he would not appoint commissioners for them, there was no way he would allow them usurp his powers of nominating his ministers.
And true to what he said, there was no evidence that the governors had any influence in the emergence of ministers from their states. While the groaning over the development faded overtime, several appointments were made by President Buhari without the knowledge of the governors.
A constitutional lawyer, Aminu Mohammed, argued that there was nothing wrong in what the president did. “He is the president and commander-in-chief,” he said.
But political analysts argued that politics is not only about what the constitution states. “You can’t operate in isolation,” Yunus Abdullahi Alakwe, a lecturer at the University of Jos said.
Shortly after the names of the non-career ambassadors were announced, the APC governors visited President Buhari and lodged their dissatisfaction.
The governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, said consultations across board would have ensured fairness, citing an example of his state where the two nominees came from the same zone.
A former deputy governor of Plateau State, Pauline Tallen, had rejected the offer to be ambassador, citing family reasons and the fact that she is from the same zone with the governor of the state.
“All the states that have complaints are going to put it in writing, and the president promised to look into it. It is not a big issue, but at times a little consultation would have solved that problem because these are issues in the interest of the state.
“It is the issue of fairness. We are approaching Mr. President to consider fairness and appoint people from those areas that do not have representation,” Lalong said.
Last week, the APC governors formally forwarded their grievances to the president in writing.
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, who spoke after a meeting with President Buhari, said, “It is the prerogative of Mr. President to do appointments, but where there is need, we always give support. We have written where we have reservations, and it is being attended to.”
But while the governors are waiting and the Senate tactically foot-dragging, there are discordant tones across the states.
Sokoto nominee, a PDP member – APC
In Sokoto State, the selection of Jamila Ahmadu-Suka as the ambassadorial nominee, allegedly by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyema, is generating criticism among the ranks of APC members.
An impeccable source told Daily Trust on Sunday that leaders of the party in the state were not consulted before she was picked for the position. The source said that Fatima was a card carrying member of the opposition PDP up till the last presidential election, and she doesn’t have any political weight in the state. However, APC members in the state accepted the other nominee, Kabiru Umar, saying he is a bonafide member of the party.
Gombe APC not consulted
The Gombe State chapter of the APC said it was not consulted before the name of Alhaji Sulaiman Hassan was submitted for the ambassadorial position. Hassan holds the traditional title of Wazirin Jara. He is based in Abuja and currently serves as the registrar of the Surveyors Council of Nigeria.
Although the party did not table a formal complaint against his nomination, a party stalwart, Alhaji Kabiru Ibn Muhammad, said they were not happy with the way appointments were made without consultation.
“In all the appointments and nominations made so far from Gombe State, the party was never consulted. We always heard about such appointments in the media,” he said.
In Rivers, aggrieved members threaten to dump APC
Orji Ngofa, who emerged as the nominee from Rivers State, is a political soul-mate of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the minister of transportation. While his supporters hail his nomination, others are grumbling that federal political appointments from the state are lopsided.
To this end, party supporters from the four local government areas that make up the Ikwerre nation have threatened to dump the party. The aggrieved supporters said their decision was borne out of lack of plans to address issues concerning some of their people, including the former leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Chidi Lloyd, Ezemonye Ezekiel-Amadi and Igo Aguma, a former member of the House of Representatives, who they believe, have not been considered for appointments.
Speaking in Port Harcourt, Mr. Ifeanyi Evans Osi, an APC stalwart, said party leaders in the area had been grossly neglected and abandoned by those at the national level, in spite of their contributions and sacrifices. Osi claimed that some members of the party in the state, who had not played major roles to the growth of the party, had been compensated with lucrative appointments and contracts.
“Our supporters are watching Chibuike Amaechi with keen interest. We love him and we will continue to support him. However, we want him to act fast over our plight, if not, we will move en masse to support any political party in the forthcoming rerun and the 2019 general elections,” he said.
Governor el-Rufa’I writes Buhari
Our correspondent confirmed that Governor Nasir el-Rufai has written to President Muhammadu Buhari to protest the nomination of Mohammed Yaro as one of the ambassador-designates from the state. The governor was said to have taken the action following a letter by some APC stakeholders who rejected the choice of Yaro.
They said he had not been a member of the party in the state. The protest was said to have received the endorsement of the governor, who quickly forwarded a letter to the president, strongly opposing the choice of Yaro, who is a former speaker of the state House of Assembly.
A top official of the party in the state, who asked not to be named, said the letter had since been sent to Abuja while the state government is awaiting a response.
“I can confirm that the governor has submitted the letter based on the points we raised at our meeting. We are waiting for the president’s response,” he said.
No equity in Kogi
In Kogi State, there are discordant tunes amongst stakeholders over the choice of Momoh S. Omeiza and Prof. Y. O. Aliu as career and non-career ambassadorial nominees respectively.
Aliu, a renowned professor of Veterinary Medicine from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, is said to be a founding member of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and an enthusiast of President Buhari.
A group known as Igala Vanguard had complained over the two ambassadorial nominees, saying that President Buhari did not consider federal character and principle of equity. In a statement issued by its convener, Engineer Lawrence Akpa, the group expressed concern that both nominees were from the same Kogi Central senatorial district as the incumbent governor, Yahaya Bello.
The group condemned what it described as “subterranean moves by Governor Bello to ensure that other districts in the state are denied appropriate representation and appointments.
“It is politically incorrect for the federal government to concentrate sensitive appointments in one section of the stateý, leaving others to groan,” the group stated.
In the same vein, the secretary of the APC in the state, Barrister Tom Adejoh, said the party was never consulted before the president came up with the name of Aliu as the non-career ambassador from the state.
“The party was totally excluded; we had no prior discussion. We don’t even know Prof. Aliu as a member of the party, and we don’t have his profile. It is a sorry situation and the pain is all over the place. It is even more with us here in Kogi. It is a very sad development. We are being shortchanged, right, left and centre,” he said.
Disquiet in Ondo
Since the name of Barrister Sola Iji was announced as the ambassadorial nominee from Ondo State, there has been disquiet. More so, the APC is still battling with its internal crisis and working towards reconciliation with aggrieved members.
Some of the leaders of the party, however, confirmed that Iji was still a strong member, contrary to insinuations that he was working for a different party ahead of the gubernatorial election in the state.
When contacted, Iji denied that he was working for another party. He told Daily Trust on Sunday that he would remain a member of the APC because it is not in his character to jump from one place to another.
Opposition member nominated from Taraba
A section of the state executive of the APC in Taraba State has called on President Buhari to withdraw the nomination of Alhaji Mustapha Jaji, saying he is a member of the PDP. But the Buhari Like Minds Support Group, led by Alhaji Ya’u Samaila, said Jaji was a card carrying member of the party, adding that he, along with several others, recently decamped to the APC. Jaji is a former executive secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).
Findings showed that the PDP celebrated and hailed President Buhari for the nomination. The chairman of the party in the state, Mr. Victor Kona, said the nomination showed that Taraba State was also considered in the scheme of things in Nigeria. However, the chairman of the APC in the state, Mallam Ardo Jika, said the nomination of Jaji was against the promises of President Buhari to party members, not only in Taraba State, but across the country. He said Buhari neither consulted the state executive nor the representative of Taraba State APC at the national level.
He noted that the president had promised to reward those who worked for him. According to Jika, “As far as the APC is concerned in Taraba State, nobody contacted nor informed us. Also, Mustafa Jaji has never, by error of commission or omission, been a member of the party in Taraba State.”
No complaint in Katsina
In Katsina, President Buhari’s home state, there has not been any reported complaint or agitation over the nominations from the state. The nominees are Justice Isa Dodo and Dr. Usman Bugaje, who are both from the Katsina Central senatorial district.
However, Bugaje reportedly rejected his nomination on the ground that he is fully engaged in the country and cannot be adequately committed to the new task.
For Dodo, a retired Grand Khadi, his political affiliation cannot be visibly traced anywhere. Perhaps, his close and personal relationship with the president, having been schoolmates, might have earned him the nomination.
For the APC in Katsina, the nominees are perfect and are very dedicated party men. According to the party chairman, Shittu Shittu, Dodo is an elderly and well respected person who had worked tirelessly for the party during its CPC days.
No objection in Bauchi and Benue
The two ambassadorial nominees from Bauchi State, Yusuf Tuggar and Baba Madugu, seem to enjoy wide support. Tuggar was said to have been nominated based ýon his political association and staunch support for President Buhari. On the other hand, Madugu is the present commissioner for information in the state. He is said to be very close to Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar.
The Benue State ambassadorial nominee, Dr. Enyantu Ifenne, is a member of the APC and highly reputable among her people.
She is a pediatrician with over a 30-year experience. She hails from Otukpo Local Government Area of the state. Her integrity in the eyes of Benue indigenes, both Tiv and Idoma, is not in doubt. She is held in high esteem. These factors, many believe, may have led to her nomination.
Party chieftains not consulted in Edo
In Edo State, there is no disquiet in the APC as a result of the nomination of Uyagwe Ibe.
It was, however, gathered that the party chieftains in the state were neither consulted nor asked to nominate a candidate.
A source further told Daily Trust on Sunday that Governor Adams Oshiomhole may not have been consulted on the nominee, going by the history of previous appointments from the state.
But speaking with our reporter on the development, the state publicity secretary of the APC, Comrade Godwin Erahon, said Ibe was eminently qualified for the appointment.
Wife of APC chieftain picked in Abia
In Abia State, Dr. Mrs. Ikechi Uzoma Emenike was picked for the appointment. She is the wife of a prominent leader of the APC in the state, Chief Ikechi Emenike.
The chairman of the party in the state, Chief Donatus Nwamkpa, said there was neither rancour nor complaint. He said the appointment was a family affair.
It’s compensation in Niger
The nomination of Alhaji Ahmed Musa Ibeto was seen as an “appropriate” compensation considering the fact that he defected to the APC while serving as deputy governor on the platform of the PDP.
He was nominated for a ministerial position, but it did not work out because he is from the same zone with the incumbent governor.
But tongues still wag, especially among the party’s top hierarchy in the state. Although party officials have kept sealed lips, when approached to comment on the development, a top stalwart told our reporter in confidence that the news of his nomination was received with mixed feelings among members.
He agreed that Ibeto was key to the party’s landslide victory during the elections. It would be recalled that his former boss, Babaginda Aliyu, lost a senatorial seat in the state. He, however, argued that those who contributed to the success of the party at its formative stage were left out in the current arrangement.
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