Leke Baiyewu, Abuja
The Senate has said it has its reason for reversing its confirmation of the nomination of Okoi Obono-Obla as a member of the Governing Board of the Nigerian Communications Commission.
While the upper chamber of the National Assembly has not stated the reason for the U-turn on Obono-Obla’s confirmation, the nominee had alleged that it was political.
The Senate asked the nominee, who is the Special Assistant to the President on Prosecution, attached to the Federal Ministry of Justice, to use administrative means to table his grievances on the rejection of his nomination and not the media.
Obono-Obla was among the five nominees by President Muhammadu Buhari, whose nomination was approved by the Senate on November 17, 2016, while two of the nominees were dropped.
At the plenary, those whose appointments were confirmed were Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye (Chairman/Ogun/South-West), Senator Ifeanyi Ararume (Non-Executive Commissioner/Imo/South-East), Sunday Dare (Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders Management/Oyo/South-West), Obono-Obla (Non-Executive Commissioner/Cross River/South-South) and Clement Omeiza Baiye (Non-Executive Commissioner/Kogi/North-Central).
The lawmakers however dropped Aliyu Abubakar (Non-Executive Commissioner/Bauchi/North-East) and Pastor Ezekiel Yissa (Non-Executive Commissioner/Kwara/North-Central).
The Senate Committee on Communications, which screened the NCC board nominees, had recommended that Obono-Obla’s nomination be confirmed by the Senate.
The committee, in its report, said, “Obono-Obla responded brilliantly at the screening exercise and promised to bring his legal experience to bear by collaborating with his colleagues on the board to further enhance the growth of the communications sector, if his nomination is confirmed. He has the experience, competence and commitment to discharge the responsibility of a Non-Executive Commissioner.”
Obono-Obla’s name was, however, missing in the letter transmitted to Buhari as one of those confirmed by the legislature.
In the letter dated November 22 and signed by the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, a copy of which was sighted by our correspondent on Monday in Abuja, Obono-Obla was listed as one of the three whose nominations were rejected by the Senate.
The Chief Press Secretary to the Senate President referred our correspondent to the spokesperson for the Senate, Sabi Abdullahi, when our correspondent asked for the reasons for Obono-Obla’s rejection.
Abdullahi, who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, however, criticised Obono-Obla for going to the media without first considering resolving the issue administratively.
He said, “Who confirmed him? Who said he was confirmed? If he wants to go to the media with his complaint, let him go. I believe that there is a procedure and he is not just an ordinary citizen; he is an SSA to Mr. President right now.
“My thought is: if he is an employee of the executive and there is an issue, he should follow it administratively. But if every single thing that happens administratively is being turned into a media war, I wish him good luck.
“If there is an issue (between the executive and the legislature), that is why we have the SSAs to the President on National Assembly Matters. Has he followed the administrative procedure and exhausted it? Why must everything being done be turned into a media war? Is that the art of governance?
“We don’t do things without a reason and if we have done something, the right is also reserved like any other person has the right reserved to them with respect to their duties and performance.”
It was however learnt that the Senate made a U-turn on Obono-Obla’s confirmation based on a point of order raised by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Senator Baba Garba, on November 22, in which he told the lawmakers that the nominee was not confirmed contrary to the earlier position of the Senate.
Before lawmakers proceed with a plenary, the votes and proceedings of the previous legislative day will first be approved by the chamber.
Saraki asked the secretariat to note the point of order made by Garba.
Earlier, Obono-Obla had run into trouble with the senators during the prosecution of Saraki, and the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, for alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Rules.
The lawmakers had summoned the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), who recommended the prosecution of the Senate leaders and pressed charges against them.
Obono-Obla, however, on June 30, 2016, appeared before the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, chaired by Senator David Umaru, to represent Malami.
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