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Monday, 21 August 2017

Presidency, Senate in fresh war over new appointees

Presidency, Senate in fresh war over new appointees

Another crisis over political appointees has begun between the Presidency and the Senate.

Our reporter gathered on Sunday that the Presidency and the Senate disagreed on the assumption of office of persons recently appointed by the Executive.

On Friday, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in a statement quoted the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, as directing the nominated chairmen for three federal institutions, the National Pension Commission, the Code of Conduct Bureau, and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, to assume office in acting capacity.

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According to the statement, the nominees are to resume in acting capacity while awaiting their confirmation by the Senate.
But the Senate in a statement on Saturday asked the appointees not to resume, saying, “We advise the nominees to hold on until they are cleared by the Senate as required by the law before resuming in their respective offices.”

A top government official told The PUNCH on Sunday that the Presidency had powers to direct persons appointed into executive positions to assume office in acting capacity pending the Senate confirmation.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Senate had no power to interfere with appointments.

The source said, “The executive arm of government is empowered to make appointments and that power is exclusive to it. The Senate’s role is to confirm.

“The Senate has no power to interfere with appointments of persons in acting capacity, especially when such appointments are made when Senate is on recess.

“It is injurious to good governance to say the executive functions of the Federal Government should halt simply because the Senate is on recess. Where is that ever done on the face of this earth?”

Similarly, the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof Itse Sagay (SAN), defended the Executive.

Speaking with one of our correspondents on Sunday, Sagay lambasted the Senate for ‘unnecessarily’ interfering with the activities of the executive arm of government.

Sagay said heads of agencies had the constitutional right to function in acting capacity pending the confirmation of the Senate.

“I have said numerous times that this Senate somehow thinks in an infantile way that it combines legislative and executive functions. It is a delusional Senate; their love for assuming powers that belong to other arms of government is alarming.

“The right to appoint belongs to the President and in some cases where the Senate approval is necessary, an acting appointment can be made and they know this.” Sagay said the Senate was taking advantage of the fact that the Presidency was being run by gentlemen.

But Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, who represents Abia North Senatorial District, defended the Senate’s position. He argued that the affected nominees were not appointed to act in their respective offices.

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He said, “The question is: were they appointed in acting capacity or they were nominated? These are two different things. If you are nominated, you are not to act. If the law says you must be cleared first by the Senate, then, you have to wait until you are cleared.

“It is a different thing from somebody who was appointed to act. Somebody who was appointed to act has no business with the National Assembly. It is an administrative thing. But if you are nominated for a position, you cannot take up that position until you are screened and cleared by the Senate.”

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