The Oasis Reporters
December 12, 2018
Two time contender for presidential election nomination, first in the All Progressive Congress and the second time in the October 2018 presidential primary election of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (PDP Kano Central) teamed up with Barau Jibrin (APC-Kano North) to support the recommendation of the confirmation of the nominees into the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC Board, based on their “experience and competence,” despite the fact that two crucial zones, South East and the South South were excluded.
However, trouble began when Senator Victor Umeh (APGA-Anambra Central), rose to oppose the nominations because they would send more wrong signals about the fight against corruption, according to a report filed by Punch newspapers.
The senator noted that “while the acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, is from the North-East, the recently confirmed Secretary of the commission, Olanipekun Olukoyede, is from the South-West and two of the nominees are from the North.”
Umeh said, “Mr President, we have continued to say this that there is a need to accommodate all parts of Nigeria in activities of government, particularly in appointing people into agencies of government.
“That has been the practice in this chamber, and on this issue of fight against corruption, the EFCC is a very important commission because the fight involves all parts of Nigeria.
“People are investigated in all parts of Nigeria and the commission cannot fight corruption to the satisfaction of all Nigerians if some parts of the country are not represented in it.”
He added, “This makes a total of four people from the North. The South-East and South-South are not accommodated in this commission.
“It is important that we include all regions in governing roles and in the fight against corruption, as it involves us all. All geopolitical zones should be included in this commission.”
He urged the Senate to be “bold enough” to step down consideration of the report and return the nomination to the Presidency.
Senator Matthew Urhoghide (PDP-Edo-South) supported Umeh, saying the exclusion of the South-South and the South-East would paint a bad picture.
Urhoghide also called on the Senate to step down consideration of the report until federal character was reflected in the nomination.
He stated, “Let us delegate people to look at the distribution of these appointments. I suggest that this matter be stood down while it is looked into.”
Enyinnaya Abaribe from Abia State also argued that the confirmation should be stepped down and nominees be returned to the President for reconsideration.
Asked by the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, to give more information on the composition of the EFCC board membership, Utazi said there were six positions, including the chairman and secretary.
He noted that the positions could go round the six geopolitical zones of the country, and give everyone a sense of justice, describing the “lopsidedness” as unfair to the excluded zones.
The Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan (APC-Yobe North), however, said as far as the nominations were concerned, no law was breached.
He said that they did not breach the EFCC Act which, he argued, was silent on the zones from which the members should be appointed.
Senator Ali Ndume also said the issue should not have been raised on the floor of the Senate since the chairman of the committee who is from the South-East did not raise the issue.
The chamber was thrown into pandemonium as the senators rose from their seats and yelled at each other, while the rowdiness lasted.
Efforts by Saraki to calm the angry lawmakers were unsuccessful. This prompted the lawmakers to go into a closed-door session, which lasted for 25 minutes.
It was at the session held behind closed doors that they agreed the confirmation be suspended for further legislative input.
The senators were divided as the lawmakers from the South-East and the South-South protested the exclusion of the two geopolitical zones by the President in his nominations.
But the senators from the North, particularly the All Progressives Congress members, argued that the Senate should proceed with the confirmation of the nominees.
The division led to a resolution to suspend the confirmation for more legislative input.
The nominees whose names were submitted to the Senate for confirmation are Ndosule Moses (North-Central), Lawan Mamman (North-East), Galadanci Imam Najip (North-West) and Adeleke Adebayo Rafiu (South-West).
The Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes led by Chukwuka Utazi had presented a report on the nominees to the plenary.
The committee recommended their confirmation on the basis of their “qualification, experience and suitability” for the job.
However, Utazi said the committee noted that the nominations did not reflect the Federal Character principle as the South-East and South-South geopolitical zones were excluded.
He stated, “The committee observed that three out of the four nominees were from the North-Central, North-East and North-West geopolitical zones, with only one nominee from the southern part of the country, that is South-West.
“The committee notes that this is not in strict compliance with the Federal Character Principle as provided for in section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The committee makes this observation to guide the Executive in future nominations,” Utazi said.
Partisanship has been the bane of the Nigerian polity which became more exacerbated by the speech and actions of President Muhammadu Buhari, who openly said that his government would favour the 97 percent of the people that voted for him, as against the 5 percent that voted for former president Jonathan, incidentally, the bulk of them are from the South East, and the South South.
The issue that is not really surprising however, is that Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso would come to the South seeking for support in an election for the presidency but loses his sense of fairness and equity on the altar of partisanship. As Kano state Governor, he once upbraided the federal lawmakers from the north for supporting the onshore/ offshore dichotomy in the distribution of crude oil wealth that is found mainly in the South South, refusing to understand that the region bears the brunt of oil exploration pollution and degradation.
It must be added too, that as Kano state Governor between 1999-2003, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso strengthened institutions to curb the incessant killings of Christians and non indigenes resident in the North Western state of Kano where religious killings are often practiced under various guises. He made efforts to protect Christian lives.