Last Wednesday, Senate, put on hold the confirmatory process of the 47 ambassadorial nominees forwarded to it by President Muhammadu Buhari on June 9, saying it failed the federal character test, as four states did not have nominees on the list. The states are: Bayelsa; Ebonyi; Ondo and Plateau.
Senators kicked against the list at plenary and invited Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal and Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama.
They are scheduled to appear before the Committee on Foreign Affairs on Monday, July 11, to explain why the four states have no nominees.
However, the federal Government has said contrary to the reason given by the Senate for rejecting the list of ambassadorial nominees sent to it for consideration, federal character, as provided in the 1999 Constitution (as amended), was fulfilled.
Meanwhile, at the weekend, Lawal expressed the disappointment of the Executive that the screening and confirmation was set aside, thereby delaying placement of new ambassadors.
The SGF assured that both he and his foreign affairs counterpart would honour the invitation on the new date and said the matter was not as serious as the Senate made it appear.
“Certainly, we will appear. We are law-abiding, we respect the National Assembly and the laws of the land. One thing, however, is clear; the Constitution makes it clear that it is the prerogative of the president to nominate ambassadors and the criteria he will use to do so is also the constitutional right of the president. Whatever criteria he chooses to use is constitutional.
“At the last count, my recollection is that out of the 47 diplomat nominees, 36 states were represented. Out of 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)while the Constitution preaches federal character, it does not say that every state must be represented in any appointment, except, of course, in the case of ministers.”
Lawal said there were criteria set by the Presidency to pick nominees and the four states without nominees do not currently have career diplomats in the foreign service that met the objective.
“Four states didn’t make it one way or the other, however, not necessarily on the criteria of seniority,” he said.