By Olasunkanmi Akoni
LAGOS — As objection to the nomination of Mrs. Roli George as the representative of Lagos State in the National Population Commission, NPC, rages, Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, said, yesterday, its opposition was informed by the need to adhere strictly to constitutional provisions on such nominations, rather than on basis of ethnicity or party affiliation.
According to the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the clarification became necessary in view of the distortion of facts and outright lies being peddled by “ill-informed commentators who have chosen, rather sadly, to trivialize what is a serious issue.”
The party said the constitution was clear that appointments to such commissions as the NPC, which are not for the Federal Government but for the federation, must first be tabled for discussion at the National Council of State in case governors from the states from which such appointments were being made had any objection.
It said: ‘’When the President brought the issue of Mrs. George to the National Council of State, Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola, indeed, raised an objection on the strength of the fact that he should be allowed to have an input into the nomination of his state’s representative in such an important commission as the NPC. The governor was right in exercising his constitutional rights.
“The President asked the governor to put his objection into writing, which he duly did and forwarded to Mr. President. Curiously, as we write, the President has yet to either acknowledge or respond to Gov. Fashola’s objection.”
The party posited that while the President could use his discretion to overrule such objection, the responsibility of the office he holds and the weight of the issue at stake did not give him the latitude to simply ignore the governor’s objection.
“In any case, the President is inconsistent. The same President who handled a state governor’s objection to the nomination of his state’s representative in the NPC with levity went ahead to say that he delayed the swearing in of the new chairman of the ICPC because of the objections he has received on his nomination, in view of the importance of the commission!!!’’ ACN said.
The party argued that if the views of governors on nominations and other issues concerning their states would count for nothing, the National Council of State could well be scrapped instead of being turned into a mere rubber stamp.
It also noted that the attacks on the personalities of the three senators from Lagos State who opposed Mrs. George’s nomination were mis-directed and poorly thought-out, since they did nothing wrong in opposing the nomination purely on constitutional grounds, and not because Mrs. George is not from Lagos as the commentator had said.
The party wondered why no one accused the three senators from Taraba State of playing an ethnic or whatever card when they rejected a ministerial nominee from their state.
ACN stressed that Lagos State had proven several times that its strength was in its cosmopolitan nature, and would, therefore, not object to any appointment on the basis of ethnicity or any other extraneous consideration.
’’Since 1999, Lagos State has been giving appointments to non-indigenes who are eminently qualified to hold the posts to which they were appointed. In fact, non-indigenes have held key posts in the state and will continue to do so. Lagos State or ACN cannot therefore be accused of playing ethnic or partisan card,’’ the party said.