Why Senate may not confirm ambassadorial nominees this year

Two months after the screening of Career Ambassadorial nominees, the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs is yet to table the report at plenary for confirmation of the nominees.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on June 9 forwarded the list of 47 career Ambassadorial nominees to the Senate for screening and confirmation.

The nominees, who are all career diplomats with not less than 30 years in service, have all been screened but yet to be confirmed.

They were screened in July by the Committee on Foreign Affairs chaired by Senator Monsurat Sunmonu.

Other members of the Committee include Shehu Sani (Vice Chairman), Enyinnaya Abaribe, Shaaba Lafiagi, Sonni Ogbuoji and James Manager.

Investigation by our correspondent revealed that unless members of the Committee have a rethink, the Ambassadorial nominees may not be confirmed this year.

A top official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed that the confirmation is being delayed because the Ministry could not meet the demands of the Committee.

According to the source, some members of the Committee allegedly demanded for gratification to facilitate the confirmation, which the Ministry could not provide.

It was learnt that when the demand could not be met, members of the Committee allegedly also requested that the Ministry should sponsor them to attend the last United Nations General Assembly in New York, which the Ministry could not also do.

Our correspondent learnt that because the above demands could not be met, the Committee members are now saying that the Ambassadorial nominees would not be confirmed unless the President sends the list of non-career Ambassadors who, in most cases, would be politicians.

It was also gathered that the leadership of the Senate may be using the various pending confirmations as bait to get “some things: from the Executive.

A top official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told The Eagle Online: “It is sad that our Senators feel there is nothing wrong if we don’t have Ambassadors in our Foreign Missions.

“We have reports from the different Missions that our country is being excluded from most diplomatic functions because we don’t have Ambassadors.

“It is the prerogative of Mr. President to appoint non-career Ambassadors and he may decide not to do so because of the recession we are experiencing.

“You know the career diplomats are civil servants and they draw salaries from government while appointing non-career Ambassadors will be additional burden on government.

“At the level of the Ministry, I can tell you that we have tried our possible best to lobby and appeal to the committee members to table the report at plenary for approval but to no avail.”

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, could not be reached for comment on the delay in confirming the Ambassadorial nominees.

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