The Senate yesterday ruled out the possibility of being influenced to screen and confirm the immediate past service chiefs as non-career ambassadors.
President Muhammadu Buhari had last week forwarded the names of the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin (rtd); Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai (rtd); Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas (rtd) and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar (rtd), to the Senate for confirmation as envoys.
While the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, has said that the Senate is in order to confirm the appointment of the new service chiefs, it, however, described as abnormal the request of the president for the confirmation of the erstwhile service chiefs as non-career ambassadors.
But the former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Timi Frank, had in a statement yesterday alleged a plot to induce each senator with $100,000 to ensure that the nominees were confirmed.
But Senate’s spokesman, Senator Ajibola Basiru, in an interview with THISDAY dismissed the allegation.
He expressed optimism that the Senate will consider the nominees on merit without any interference.
Basiru, however, urged his colleagues and the public not to take such an allegation seriously, especially coming from Frank.
He said: “The character has in the past been reported to make spurious allegations with reckless abandon. No serious-minded person should take any statement from such a character with seriousness.”
On its part, Afenifere, while saying the Senate is in order to confirm the appointment of the new service chiefs, described as abnormal the request of the president for the confirmation of the erstwhile service chiefs as non-career ambassadors.
Its spokesman, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, told THISDAY a Senate diligent in its job would have queried the abnormality of appointing the former service chiefs as ambassadors.
“Only a rubber-stamp legislature will allow such abnormal development to pass to be in the good book of the executive,” he stated.
Also in his statement, Frank asked the Senate not to confirm the nomination of the erstwhile service chiefs.
Frank added that if the Senate considers the nominees, it would go against its many resolutions in the past, including a vote of no confidence on the former army chiefs over incompetence.
According to him, the confirmation of the retired officers would amount to both chambers of the National Assembly returning to their vomit.
He listed occasions when the Senate and the House of Representatives had expressly urged Buhari to sack the ex-military brass over lack of capacity, incompetence and failure to stem the tide of insecurity in the country.
These, he said, included Senate’s resolution on a motion sponsored by the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Yahaya Abudullahi, titled: “Nigerian Security Challenges: Urgent Need to Restructure, Review And Reorganise the Current Security Architecture.” over the beheading of 67 rice farmers by Boko Haram insurgents in Zabarmari community in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State.
He also mentioned the minority caucus in the House of Representatives which called for the sacking of the service chiefs in reaction to the attack on the convoy of the Governor of Borno State, Prof. Babagana Zulum, by suspected Boko Haram terrorists, on July 31, 2020.
Frank noted that prominent groups in the country, including Afenifere, Coalition of Northern Elders for Peace and Development, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndi’Igbo and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), at various times had called or supported calls for the sacking of the then service chiefs over their perceived failure to secure the country.
He stated that Buhari had also passed a vote of no confidence on the ex-military commanders when he told them that their “best was not good enough.”
Frank asked about whose interest the Senate would be serving by confirming the ‘failed generals’ as ambassadors in the face of widespread doubt over their competence, capacity, and capabilities during their tenure.