THE National Assembly has never been in
short supply of controversies. Perhaps
that is the nature of the country’s brand of
politics, a country that is finding it difficult
to separate politics from governance.
The 8th National Assembly may have
earned the unenviable record of
generating the highest number of
controversies within a period of just one
year since the rebirth of democracy in the
country in 1999.
Few weeks back, the ambassadorial list
controversy ensued. Senator Emmanuel
Paulker was the first to draw the blood
when he pointedly accused the
Presidency of deliberately omitting
Bayelsa State from the list of 47
ambassadorial nominees forwarded to
the Senate for consideration and
Senator Joshua Dariye representing
Plateau Central Senatorial District also
complained that his state was left out of
the list. So also were Senators from Ondo
and Ebonyi States who complained
bitterly that their states were not
accommodated in list. The Senators cried
blue murder and invoked the spirit of
Federal Character Principles. They
claimed that some states were favoured
with as many as three nominees while
their states had none. Fair is fair, they
When President Muhammadu Buhari sent
the ambassadorial list to the Senate he
may not have envisaged the bad blood it
would engender.
What started as a normal observation
forced the Senate to abandon the
presidential list. The upper chamber
asked its Foreign Affairs committee to
carry out full investigation of why some
states were left out of list. The screening
of those nominated was kept in the cooler
pending the out come of the probe.
The controversy over the list grew as the
investigative panel summoned Secretary
to the Government of the Federation,
Babachir Lawal and Foreign Affairs
Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama to throw light
on the list. The charges of lopsided,
irregular and breach of the constitution
At the end, the verdict of the committee
was President Buhari committed no
wrong especially as the list of nominees
comprised only career diplomats.
The Senate adopted the report paving the
way for the Senate to proceed with the
screening of the nominees.
In adopting the committee report, the
upper chamber asked the President to
hasten to submit to it the list of non-
career ambassadors to balance the
Other recommendations of the committee
adopted included; “that the President
should be advised to expedite action on
the submission of non-career nominees,
which is expected to balance the perceived
lopsidedness in the appointments.
“ More so, in future nominations, the
executive arm should be guided to see the
logic of sustaining the previous practice of
presenting to the Senate a combined list
of both career and non-career nominees
for confirmation;
“That the Executive arm should be equally
advised to promptly commence the
process of the selection of all nominees
and other principal officers of government
for appointment, ahead of confirmation
by Senate to avoid delays in governmental
operations. “That the government is
advised to sustain the recommendable
compliance to gender representation and
balance in the remaining nomination and
any other one in the future with a view to
giving the female gender the desired
sense of belonging.”
Vice Chairman, Senate Foreign Affairs
committee, Senator Shehu Sani, who
presented the report, informed the Senate
that the Secretary to the Government of
the Federation told the committee that the
President breached no rules in the
Lawal was also reported to have told the
committee that nobody from Bayelsa,
Ondo, Plateau and Ebonyi states where
petitions came from met the criteria for
“The nominees were carefully selected on
the basis of federal character, seniority,
gender consideration, minimum of 30
months of service before retirement and
“The submission from the SGF admitted
that officers of Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Ondo and
Plateau were not featured in the list
because they did not meet the criteria for
appointment,” Lawal was said to have
The screening had long been concluded
line with the Senate resolution. However
the drama that enveloped the screening
process is still trending.
The fact that some nominees failed
woefully to recite the national Anthem and
the Pledge may have been a function of
the lackadaisical attitude most Nigerians
in positions of authority attach to national
symbols. National symbols that are
considered a thing of pride in some climes
are treated with laxity. For one of
nominees, the capital of Lagos State is
Lagos and not Ikeja.
The female nominee was asked to list 12
states and their capitals. Her answer
threw the audience into a hilarious
session. Three others wobbled and
fumbled as they laboured to recite the
National Anthem and Pledge. It was such
an embarrassing outing that some
committee members expressed disgust
that career diplomats found it difficult to
recite the country’s National Anthem.
Even when a committee member, Senator
James Manager, gave one of the
nominees a window of escape, the
nominee could still not recite Pledge.
“What we saw today shows the quality of
those we send out to represent the
country in other countries,” one of the
committee members lamented. The whole
affair was comical as it was annoying.
Presidential Aide, Senator Ita Enang, did
not however see any thing wrong in the
performance of the nominees.
Enang in a statement entitled
“Ambassadorial Nominees: Media report
a misrepresentation of fact” faulted
reports that some ambassadorial
nominees faltered while asked to recite
the National Anthem and the Pledge
during a Senate session to screen them.
The Presidential aide who led the
nominees to the venue of the screening
session, said it was wrong to paint the
nominees in bad light when nothing like
Enang said, “Our Attention has been
drawn to report by a section of the media
that some Ambassadorial Nominees were
unable to recite the National Anthem and
Pledge while appearing before the Senate
Committee on Foreign Affairs for
screening today.
”May I state that the nominees were able
to respond to questions asked them, and
also recited the National Anthem and
Pledge when called upon. As such, the
report by the media is incorrect.
“Subjecting them to criticisms at this
point over a situation which never
happened in the first place is most unfair
and uncalled for. “Let me use this
opportunity to appreciate the effort of the
Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign
Affairs, Senator Monsurat Sunmonu, and
members of the committee, for the
intellectual and thorough manner in which
the exercise is being carried out.”
The fact, Enang was economical with the
truth of what transpired at the screening.
As Nigerians await the resumption of
plenary after a six week break of the two
chambers, more controversies and drama
may be in the offing. More often than not
reason is thrown over board.