*Say Senate not a rubberstamp •Lay ambush for appointees who resumed before confirmation
SENATORS are angry over the refusal of the presidency to subject nominees into appointive offices to screening and confirmation processes before they are asked to assume office, with many of them declaring that what is fast becoming a fad under the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is an affront on the legislature.
President Buhari had named the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in acting capacity, besides the appointment of the board of the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) and the chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) before referring them to Senate for confirmation.
The president also named appointees to the National Communications Commission (NCC) without confirmation by the Senate.
Presidential Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, two weeks ago, said the letter requesting the confirmation of AMCON appointees had been prepared in readiness for dispatch to the Senate.
Sources in the Senate, however, said the lawmakers were angry that their powers to dispassionately assess the nominees were being eroded, as the appointees had already assumed office, started drawing salaries and allowances and had also started implementing policies.
“It is wrong for an appointee, who is supposed to be confirmed by the Senate before appointment, to assume office and then come for confirmation. In such situation, the man is already enjoying the pecks of office and the confirmation is being made to look like a fiat accomplished,” one of the senators said.
The lawmaker said the general opinion among his colleagues was to lay ambush for those who had assumed duties before their confirmation by the Senate.
“Notwithstanding the argument being held on to by the Presidency, the fact is that the Senate was not set up as a rubberstamp institution.
“The Senate should be in a position to confirm or reject a nominee and it is absurd for the nominee to appear before the Senate for confirmation with all the paraphernalia of the office he is seeking,” another senator said.
“You don’t see this in the United States of America from where we borrow our democracy. Appointees are grilled by the Senate and the chamber reserves the right to reject anyone without ruffling feathers.
“In our case, however, once any of these nominees is rejected, the media would shout it that Senate removes Buhari’s nominee. It’s unprecedented and uncalled for,” another senator said on Tuesday.
A senator further said the appointments by Buhari amounted to a violation of the constitution, since the appointees had resumed office and started acting before their appointments were confirmed by the Senate.
According to him, the constitution provided that the appointments shall be subject to Senate confirmation, adding that it was absurd that some of the appointees had started spending money from the office before their confirmation.
“What we are seeing concerning these appointments amount to an offence and gross breach of the constitution. I am aware that senators are peeved by this conduct and there is the thinking that some of those who have assumed office might have disqualified themselves.
“The lawmakers consider the development as an abuse of their respect for Buhari and that the act is undermining the Senate,” a senator in the know said.
Another senator said tough questions actually await any nominee who assume office before clearance by the Senate, adding that the lawmakers would be tempted to ask why they needed Senate confirmation after they had assumed duty.
“They will also be asked what legal grounds they relied on to assume duty when the Senate was yet to confirm them,” a source in the legislature said on Wednesday.