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Senate confirms Buratai, others as non-career ambassadors

NEWSMAN, Abuja – Senate on Tuesday, confirmed the immediate past service chiefs as non-career ambassadors.

General Abayomi G. Olonisakin, Lt. General Tukur Y. Buratai, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete E. Ibas and Air Marshal Sadique B. Abubakar were removed as service chiefs on February and were subsequently nominated as non-career ambassadors by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The nomination of another retired military chief Air Vice Marshal Muhammad S. Usman was also confirmed.

The Senate President in his remarks after the nominees were confirmed advised the Executive arm of government to deploy them to countries where their experiences as former military officers would be required. 

“These nominees that we have just confirmed are nominees that have served this country to the best of their ability. Our appeal to the Executive is to make sure they use their experiences as military men to the best,” Senate President Ahmed Lawan said.

Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Adamu Muhammad Bulkachuwa, in his presentation said their appointments were made in line with section 171(40) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

According to him, “their experiences as Service Chiefs and in the military where they rose to the highest ranks in their careers have made them eminently qualified; and that the nominees were very knowledgeable and articulate in their response to questions directed at them by the Committee.”

Bulkachuwa, however, disclosed in the report that “the Committee received petitions against their nominations as Non-Career Ambassadors of the Federal Republic of Nigeria but the petitions were dismissed.” 

The Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, while coming under a point of order, demanded explanation as to the rationale behind the dismissal of the petition against the nominees by the Committee, particularly against the backdrop of the Senate resolutions in the past calling for their removal as Service Chiefs. 

Responding, the Senate President pointed out that the Senate resolution demanding their removal was in no way related to President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for the Senate to confirm them as Ambassadors-Designate, adding that, “these are two separate roles.”

“Without prejudice to what the executive will do, where we need to fight the Boko Haram insurgency and banditry, because of their experience in the field, they should be able to interact very closely and sufficiently to advice and create the atmosphere for working together, for partnership and cooperation between Nigeria and those countries.

“So, I think on that scope, the nomination cannot be nullified because we said they should be changed”, Lawan said 

The nominees were, thereafter, confirmed after a motion moved by the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, to that effect and seconded by the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe. 

The confirmation comes barely five days after they were screened by the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and three weeks after they were nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari.

It also comes amidst criticism of their nomination by many Nigerians.

There were many allegations levelled before the ex-military chiefs ranging from the 2015 massacre of more than 340 members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), violent attacks on members of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), last October’s shooting of innocent Nigerians who took part in the #EndSARS protest at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos, the extrajudicial killings in Oyigbo, an Igbo settlement in Rivers State, among others.

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