Why The Senate Must Be Attentive
Sir: Over the years, despite its constitutional and statutory authority to screen and confirm the nominees of the President, the Senate has been derelict in its responsibility of properly vetting candidates.
For example, prior to the 2015 general elections, despite the overwhelming public outrage over former Senator Musiliu Obanikoro’s alleged role in the Ekiti electoral scandal, the 7th Senate, under the leadership of then-Senate President David Mark, approved his appointment as the Minister of State (II) for Foreign Affairs.
Many considered this politically insensitive, morally contentious, and purely partisan development as an affront to the sensibilities of Nigerians.
Since taking office, the President of the 8th Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has promised Nigerians that the Red Chambers will strive to change the status quo and be alive to its constitutional responsibilities.
Saraki, given his previous experience as the former Governor of Kwara State, and Chairman of the Governor’s Forum, has since proven to be someone who is up to the task of steering the upper legislative chambers down previously unexplored legislative precedents of vetting of appointees.
As an independent branch of the legislature, and the institution tasked with the role of ensuring that capable candidates with unquestionable characters are chosen to guide the country’s affairs, the Senate needs to be aware that screening exercises are not inconsequential activities.
Additionally, although the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has a majority in the Senate, the Senators should understand that the selection of qualified hands is not made a partisan or nepotistic affair.
In view of this, the Senate must move to ensure that it tests the intellectual capacity and investigates the moral and ethical records of all nominees before approving their appointments.
The thorough screening of the Service Chiefs by the 8th Senate was indeed a welcome development. In the early stages of this political dispensation, many Nigerians are hopeful that the new posture of intensive and extensive scrutiny by the Senate will continue to be comprehensive, exhaustive and unbiased. • Saka Olawale, Sakaolawale26@gmail.com