There was a rowdy session at the Senate on Thursday as complaints of lopsided appointments into the federal boards and parastatals by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration from lawmakers rented the air.
The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki had read a letter from the President on the appointment of former Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Tunde Lemo, to chair the Board of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency, FERMA.
The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu however raised a point of order after the reading of a formal letter from Buhari transmitted to the upper legislative chamber which sought confirmation of persons he appointed as chairman and commissioners for the Federal Civil Service Commission, FCSC.
Referring his colleagues to section 14(3) of 1999 Constitution, Ekweremadu accused Buhari of regularly making lopsided appointments into federal government ministries, departments and agencies in breach of the federal character principle, insisting that the South-East was being neglected and marginalised.
He stated that the action of President Buhari was totally unacceptable to him because the leadership of these agencies were coming from a particular section of the country.
According to him, “I don’t have problem with any particular part of Nigeria, but I have problem with the way government is directing its appointments.
“Over the last three weeks, we had cause to either discuss this FERMA that you have announced today, but the NDIC, AMCON or the Federal Civil Service Commission, the head of all these parastatals have come from one particular part of Nigeria and this is completely unfair.
“We cannot sit in this Senate and allow that to go, it is completely unacceptable to me.”
This observation caused a rowdy session and on this premise, the Senate President referred the contentious issue to committee on federal character to consider the allegation and observations and report back to the senate.
But Ekweremadu insisted that the leadership of most of the appointments were skewed in favour of a particular part of the country, stressing that, “I am talking of leadership of these agencies, all of them have come from one part of Nigeria”.
On his part, the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, defended the government of Buhari, saying that “whenever the government sends a list containing the list of appointments, it does its work very well.”
But this assertion made the hallowed chamber became more rowdy as there were reactions, and shouts from the Senators.
Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP Enugu North) had through order 15 of Senate rules, insisted that the list should be stepped down pending report from the Committee on Federal Character Committee.
Supporting Utazi’s submission, Senator Obinna Ogba representing Ebonyi Central Senatorial district stressed that Ebony state was denied a slot in the list, saying that the Senate should reject the nomination out rightly.
However, Saraki tried to calm the tension, describing the issue as “speculations”, adding that what has just happened was “a letter from the President.”
He said the Senator Tijani Kaura-led Committee on Federal Character should investigate the issues raised by Ekweremadu and report back at plenary next week Tuesday.
The Senate President, who presided over the plenary, said, “the probe would ascertain if there are such cases or not.”