Nigerian Senate

The Senate may again be heading for a collusion course with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Babachir David Lawal over Auditor General nominee, Mr. Anthony Mkpe Ayine.

The upper legislative chamber is currently at loggerheads with Lawal over alleged contract scam involving funds from the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE).
Following a report of investigation by a Senate ad hoc committee on Investigation of Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North East, the Senate had called for the removal and prosecution of the SGF.

In what appears to be another brewing friction with Lawal, the Senate is said to have received a floodgate of petitions by interested parties citing alleged manipulation that characterised the nomination of the Auditor General.

The Senate had listed Ayine’s nomination on its Order Paper on December 15, 2016 for consideration, but had skipped the item at the last minute. No reasons were given for the action.
In one of the petitions to the Senate by the Network Against Impunity (NAI), copies of which were circulated in Abuja on Monday, the NAI said Ayine was not one of the three candidates submitted to the SGF for consideration as Auditor General.

The petition, dated December 23, 2016 and signed by the National Coordinator of the NAI, Comrade Yakubu Adagba, alleged that the original list of shortlisted candidates was substituted by the SGF before the nomination got to the Senate.

Adagba, had in the petition, alleged connivance of a high ranking official in the office of Head of Service of the Federation with the SGF to forward the name of a preferred candidate outside the shortlisted names.

The petition partly stated, “In the first place, Mr. Ayine was not one of the three candidates originally shortlisted for the position of Auditor-General by the Federal Civil Service Commission that conducted oral and written interviews for the candidates.

“The original list of the three shortlisted candidates forwarded to the SGF by the FCSC, was jettisoned by the SGF who substituted the list and presented a different list of nominees to President Muhammadu Buhari.

“Therefore, Ayine’s confirmation request pending before the Senate is nothing but a cash-and-carry deal, packaged by the SGF and about to be rubber-stamped by the Senate.
“Consequently, the Senate is enjoined to tarry a while and should not confirm Mr. Ayine in a hurry, to avoid giving legislative backing to official impunity.
“Due diligence and proper investigation by the Senate will save the nation the misfortune of installing a wrong candidate in an establishment as sensitive as the office of the Auditor-General for the Federation.

“To establish authenticity or otherwise of the nominee, we charge the Senate Committee on Public Accounts to demand the records of the screening exercise conducted by the Federal Civil Service Commission for scrutiny”.

Shortly before proceeding on recess in December, the Senate had called for the sack and prosecution of the SGF, citing illegal award of contract and payment of over N200 million to Rholavision Engineering Limited, a firm in which Lawal has substantial interest.

The company was said to have been awarded inflated and phantom contracts of over N200 million, from funds dedicated to the rehabilitation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) for clearing invasive plant species in Yobe State.

Although SGF has continued to deny wrongdoing in the alleged contract scam, President Muhammadu Buhari had referred his case to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami for investigation.

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