- Magu: Senate Plans Fresh Showdown With Presidency
The Senate has perfected plans to withhold the confirmation of nominees by President Muhammadu Buhari as part of the lawmakers’ strategies for a showdown with the Presidency.
This is notwithstanding the recent move by the Presidency to reconcile with the Senate.
The upper chamber of the National Assembly is considering placing an “embargo” on approval of appointments by the President until the legislature and the executive resolved the lingering crisis between them.
It was gathered on Sunday that the Senate would make the move based on the recent comment by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who said he agreed with human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), that Section 171 of the Constitution empowers the President to make some appointments without National Assembly’s approval.
An impeccable source in the leadership of the Senate told our correspondent that a constitutional crisis was brewing in the country.
According to the source, the legislature and the executive have conflicting interpretation of the Constitution on their powers and responsibilities.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said while an intervention by the judiciary would be needed, the executive should go to court and not the legislature.
The Presidency and the Senate had clashed over the retention of Mr. Ibrahim Magu as acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission despite the rejection of his appointment by the legislature.
The Senate had, on March 28, 2017, suspended the consideration of the 27 nominees by the President as Resident Electoral Commissioners of the Independent National Electoral Commission for two weeks.
The move was to protest the Presidency’s insistence on Magu as the acting Chairman of EFCC.
Osinbajo had ruled out the possibility of Buhari replacing Magu with another nominee, adding that the President did not find the DSS report, which was the basis for Magu’s rejection, as a strong reason to replace the EFCC boss.
He said despite being rejected twice, the government was still at liberty to renominate Magu.
Speaking to our correspondent on Sunday, the National Assembly source stated, “There is going to be a constitutional crisis in Nigeria because the Senate is now at a crossroads on what to do with the nominations made by the President for which he is seeking the confirmation by the Senate.
“Going by what Osinbajo said on Magu, it means that the nation’s Presidents from 1999, who sent nominations to the Senate for confirmation, had all breached the Constitution. Even Buhari, who has been sending nominations to the Senate, was not properly advised.”
Senate President Bukola Saraki had, at the plenary on Wednesday, read three letters from Buhari, seeking the confirmation of some of his appointments, including three non-career ambassadorial nominees,
The President, in another letter, sought confirmation of the appointment of five members for the board of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The President also wrote the Senate separately to seek the confirmation of the appointment of the Chairman, National Electricity Regulation Commission.
Also, the lawmakers have yet to screen and confirm the two ministerial nominees sent to the Senate by Buhari.
The source added, “They may not (be considered, including those of the CBN, NERC and others just sent to the Senate, because of the claims made by the Vice-President. He spoke as if he was speaking the mind of the President.
The source added, “They (Presidency) should proceed to court to seek endorsement for their position. It is their business to go to the court, not the Senate’s. The Vice President has already stalled the nomination and confirmation processes by his unguarded statements.
“He somehow agreed with Falana that there is no need for legislative confirmation for the appointments. With the Section 171 claim by the Vice-President, the Senate is now at a crossroads on whether to go on with the confirmation (of appointments) or adopt the new claim by the Presidency.
“The National Assembly follows established laws, which have been used for all dealings with the other arms of government. If they now have a contrary view, they should go to court.”
But a member of the Senate expressed his anger over the plan in an interview with our correspondent.
The All Progressives Congress lawmaker lamented that some recent decisions by the chamber were not enjoying the support of most members.
The lawmaker said, “Between you and I, that is rubbish. The issue of Magu is rubbish; the issue of (the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service) Hameed Ali is rubbish.
“If some of us insist on Magu’s removal and Ali should appear before the Senate in uniform, how does that put food on the table of Nigerians? And we are supposed to focus on what can improve the life of the average Nigerians; we are not doing that. But we are busy with Ali, Magu and other issues. It is so unfortunate.”
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, could not be reached for comments on the latest development.
While he did not return our correspondent’s calls on Saturday, the lines indicated that they had been switched off on Sunday.
But the Vice-Chairman, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, said the Senate would address all issues relating to the relationship between the lawmakers and the Presidency.
He said, “By Tuesday, Senator Sabi (Abdullahi) will speak on the issue as reflected by the joint decision of the Senate. Nobody can take any individual position (on the matter); the Senate will take the position.”
When asked to speak as the deputy spokesman for the Senate, Murray-Bruce replied, “Sabi will take that position because I have not gotten any official communication from the Senate and I don’t have any opinion (on the matter).”
President Buhari had set up a reconciliatory committee chaired by Osinbajo, which has as members ministers, who were at a time, members of the National Assembly as members.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang; and Samaila Kawu (House of Representatives) are also members.
But while the Presidency said the panel had started to meet with the Senate leadership, Saraki had denied such meetings, saying the committee was not necessary.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, could not be reached for comments on Saturday and Sunday.
In The Fight Against Corruption, No Individual is Bigger Than The State – Buhari
In response to the suspended acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, President Muhammed Buhari, lamented that the anti-corruption war becomes endangered “when persons entrusted with the responsibility of that magnitude become suspects themselves.”
Buhari, whose vision is to put an end to corruption in Nigeria, believed that every aspect of the nation’s life is enshrined in corruption and it’s of major concern when leaders of institutions saddled with the mandate to fight the menace are found in the waves of the corruption they claimed to be fighting.
This act is a great abomination not only because it strikes at the root but it also trivialises and undermines the anti-corruption crusade itself, the President explained.
He further said that in a bid to put an end to this great abomination, he had set up Ayo Salami Panel to unravel the mystery behind the mystique of Magu’s alleged involvement in corruption that his administration is fighting.
Buhari said that his administration is ready and willing to go all out in the fight against corruption, and no one is too big nor above the law to become a victim of anti-graft’s sledgehammer.
The president said, “However, the stark reality of widespread corruption becomes poignant when allegations of corruption touch on the leadership of an institution set up by law to coordinate and enforce all economic and financial crimes.
“It is an abomination that strikes at the root and undermines the government’s anti-corruption programme.
“It was in response to the serious allegations against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that I set up a panel headed by the Honourable Justice Isa Ayo Salami, retired President of the Court of Appeal, via an Instrument dated 3rd July 2020 pursuant to the Tribunals of Inquiry Act (Cap T21, LFN, 2004).
“We recognise that there are more grounds to cover in the war against corruption, and we are prepared to go out to possess those lands by cutting off any stream that nourishes the seed of corruption and supports its growth.
“Let it be known that in the fight against corruption, no one is too big to tackle, as no individual is bigger than the Nigerian State!”
In Search For The New EFCC Chairman, Justice Ayo Salami Panel Advises Buhari to Look Outside The Police Force
Justice Ayo Salami’s panel advised President Muhammadu Buhari to look outside the Nigerian Police Force for the new Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
A credible source confirmed that President Muhammadu Buhari may have decided to follow the panel recommendation to avoid a similar fate to that of Magu, the former chairman.
The source also confirmed that the panel recommendation was a result of sleaze allegations against suspended acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu. Also, that search team would be constituted in the next few days to slim down the possibilities of finding the right candidate to bring into reality the President’s vision of a corrupt-free anti-graft agency.
The source further confirmed that “the sleaze and abuse of office allegations against Magu, a commissioner of police, were overwhelming,” and that he may be put on trial.
As advised by the panel, the new EFCC chairman should be in interim position for two years.
It was suggested that the recommendation from the Justice Ayo Salami panel might have pinned Magu, according to Femi Adesina, the presidential spokesman, he advised president Buhari to consider looking into other law enforcement or security agencies, as well as considering important and diligent staff of EFCC in his plans to appoint the next EFCC chairman, as s provided in the EFCC Establishment Act of 2004.
Following the Justice Ayo Salami panel recommendation, Salami said “Your Excellency, permit me to say that four successive chairmen of the EFCC from inception have been drawn from the police. Therefore, in appointing a new chairman of EFCC, consideration should be given to candidates from other law enforcement or security agencies and qualified core staff of EFCC as provided in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment Act 2004).
“It is also important to point out that at the moment, 970 policemen (114 drivers, 641 mobile policemen and 215 operations), are on secondment in the EFCC.
“Therefore, an exit plan for the disengagement of the police and other personnel within two years from now should be considered. This will address the issue of non-promotion of core staff for over nine years.
“Your Excellency, our thinking here is that whoever you are appointing other than a core EFCC staff, should be in transitional capacity of two years during which period, the arrangement would be made for the appointment of any of the core staff who has been commended by National Crime Agency, UK and other international law enforcement for their professionalism”.
Justice Ayo Salami appreciated the president for giving members of the panel an avenue to serve the country.
Ezekwesili Presents Research Findings on Fixing Nigeria’s Politics
She stated this at the public launch of #FixPolitics, where she presented findings from her fellowship research on how to fix politics in Nigeria and Africa more broadly.
Ezekwesili invited 124 Nigerians from diverse fields of endeavour and geopolitical zones to collaborate on designing the research findings over the last one year as a Work Study Group. The group is the co-leadership organ responsible for an integrated citizens-led actions to fix the broken political system.
She pointed out that politics in Nigeria was not fulfilling the core requirement of a democratic system, which was to provide good governance for the common wellbeing of citizens.
“My research findings primarily reinforce that the poor state of affairs in Nigeria is the consequence of the quality of politics at play. Politics is at the heart of everything any society can or will become. The essential process of democracy is not complete without politics,” the 2019 Nigerian Presidential candidate said.
In her study, she established primarily that in a democratic system, “there are three triangular pillars which determine the kind of outcomes that politics will produce for the people.
Explaining the concept, the former World Bank vice president said, “On the right angle or demand side of the triangle is the electorate; on the left or supply side is the politicians, political class and parties; and at the top is the regulatory – constitutional, legal, electoral and institutional context within which the politics happen.”
According to her, these tripod pillars create an interconnecting network of actions that determine the outcomes of every political system.
“Every pillar or angle of the triangle must function effectively and concurrently with the other two to enable the right quality of politics that will deliver strong economic performance for a people.
“In evaluating the outcome of politics in Nigeria and Africa, my study established that the quality of the electorate, quality of political class and quality and lack of independence and capacity of political institutions constitute a structural and systemic problem for democracy and must therefore be fixed by citizens,” Ezekwesili said.
She also said, “The research found that Nigeria is ridden with politicians without competing ideas of how to solve the problems of citizens, who lack a culture of public service and subordinate the common good to their personal and narrow interests.
“The constitutional, legal, institutional and regulatory environment is compromised by the political class to more frequently act without independence, fairness and adherence to the rule of law. The political space is thus completely monopolised by the supply side of governance, that is the political class, thereby causing political, economic and social stagnation for the nation and people.
“Currently in our politics, voters generally lack the level of influence necessary to compel the right political processes and good outcomes that serve the good of all in society.
“The bright prospect is that evidence from the #FixPolitics research shows that citizens are the only angle of the triangle that can act and propel systemic change by collectively and decisively acting for their common good.”
To alter the status quo, Ezekwesili said only the electorate “have the incentive to correct the abnormality in a political system.”
She added, “It is the collective effort of citizens that can change the quality of political class and compel the kind of constitutional and electoral changes required to achieve good governance.”
Delivering a keynote address, former President Felipe Calderon of Mexico said there was an enormous gap between the interests of the citizens and that of the politicians, which he saw as a major problem to a democratic setting.
“To fix politics in Nigeria, the citizens and the politicians must work together and represent the same in practical life,” he said.
Calderon further said that “citizens must change their perception of politics and political participation rather than holding to a view that politics is for corrupt and dishonest people.”
According to him, corrupt people are quite the opposite of what politics stands. “To fix politics is what happens when the people participate and take responsibility to provide political participation with ethical sense and ethical parameters,” Calderon added.
In a goodwill message, former President of Malawi, Dr. Joyce Banda, said politics should be seen as an inclusive love affair and if institutionally implemented, “Africa will witness a great change in its democratic system.”
While dissecting the dynamics of democracy, three intergenerational panels with discussants like Prof. Atahiru Jega, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Aisha Yesufu, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Jude Abaga(also known as M.I Abaga), Cynthia Mbamalu, Yemi Adamolekun, Samson Itodo, among others, agreed that there was an emerging consensus to fix politics in Nigeria as the status quo was untenable and unsustainable.
Speakers like Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, Ayo Sogunro, Ndi Kato, Adewunmi Emoruwa, and Dr. Usman Bugaje highlighted that “there is a need for young people and women to fully engage in partisan politics, create platforms for political engagement, use politics as a tool for framing a shared vision based on a new dominant value orientation of public service, connect the elite with the grassroots and mobilise the Nigerian public to mount pressure on the legislature for the right constitutional and electoral changes.”
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