19 May 2017

Nigeria: Senate Stops Buhari's Appointee From Assuming Office

Abuja — For assuming duties before screening and confirmation, President Muhammadu Buhari's nominee for the position of Director-General, National Lottery Regulatory Commission, Lanre Gbajabiamila, was yesterday asked to steer clear of the office until his nomination is approved by Senate.

The Senate warned the nominee who is a younger brother of House of Representatives Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, not to be seen within the vicinity of the commission.

It condemned the resumption of the nominee without an appointment letter and legislative confirmation, saying this is in violation of Section 8 (1) of the Nigerian Lottery Regulatory Commission which stipulates that the president shall appoint the director-general subject to the confirmation of the Senate.

The resolution followed the adoption of the report of an investigation by the Senate Leader Ahmad Lawan at yesterday's legislative session. The action of the Senate would improve the process of appointing those who manage government agencies as they would be screened for their fitness for the offices they are to hold. But it is also seen as a further demonstration of the cold relationship between the Aso Rock Villa and the Dome House.

The nominee was one of the 23 people appointed to head various federal agencies by President Buhari, through an announcement by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, on April 14.

In a "point of order" raised at Wednesday plenary, Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi State) observed that Gbajabiamila had already assumed office in contravention of extant laws.

Senate President Bukola Saraki who expressed shock at the revelation asked the Senate leader to investigate the matter and report back within 24 hours.

Presenting his findings yesterday, Lawan said the Executive admitted that the nominee erred by assuming office without following due process.

He urged appointees whose conformations are yet to be approved by the Senate to wait rather than violate the law.

"The nominee for the office of the Director General of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission actually assumed office. I think he was misadvised and therefore assumed office without going through the stipulated due process.

"I spoke with all those who should know better including the Acting Secretary to the Government of the Federation (Habibat Lawal) and the conclusion on the side of the Executive is that he erred because probably he didn't get the correct briefing that he should have waited until due process and due diligence were completed.

"On this side, I believe that that was an error and there was a genuine appeal from the Executive that no such thing will ever happen again. I advise the SGF that that nominee should not be seen within the vicinity of the office of the DG until he is confirmed and an appointment letter is given to him.

"I also want to take this opportunity to ask and advise the Executive that such a thing must never be allowed to happen again. And also for nominees who may be so eager to start work that they should tarry a while until due diligence is followed to its logical conclusion.

"I believe that this is a worthwhile investigation and I believe that those who are supposed to ensure total compliance with our legislations now know better," he told lawmakers.

Ruling on the matter, Saraki urged the Executive to respect the law at all times.


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