By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA — The standoff between the Senate and the Presidency on the propriety of the legislative body confirming nominees into federal executive bodies, yesterday, cascaded to a split in the Presidency.
The disagreement in the executive arm of government was brought to the fore, yesterday, at a press conference after the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting when Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami, dissociated FEC from the stance taken by Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, on the propriety of the Senate confirming persons into certain federal executive bodies.
Abubakar Malami (SAN) . Photo by Gbemiga Olamikan[/caption
The Senate had on Tuesday resolved not to screen any nominee presented to it by the Presidency on the claim that Acting President Yemi Osinbajo had challenged the Senate’s powers of making such confirmations.
Meanwhile, an official in the Presidency fired back at the Senate, last night, describing its verbal attack on acting President Yemi Osinbajo, as mere political posturing.
The Presidency official, who spoke with Vanguard on condition of anonymity, questioned what offence the acting president had committed to warrant being vilified by the Senate.
The official, however, expressed optimism that the bone of contention between the two tiers of government would be resolved by those he called ‘political actors’ who understand the issues at stake.
Malami, who joined the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello at the post-FEC press conference, alleged that FEC had never discussed the issue prior to Osinbajo making his declaration public.
Stating the government’s position, yesterday, Mohammed said:
“Clearly it came up. The fact of the matter is that we have a very excellent mechanism for resolving whatever issues that are between us and the National Assembly and that is being addressed.”
He, however, did not give details on steps being taken to resolve the impasse between the two arms of government.
But reacting to whether FEC had deliberated on the issue, the AGF said FEC had not taken any position before the Acting President made his comments.
He said: “The fundamental consideration about the alleged statement is the fact that at no point ever did the Federal Executive Council sit to arrive at the decision in one way or the other as far as the issue of nomination or otherwise is concerned.
“So, I do not think it constitutes an issue for the Federal Executive Council to make any clarification about because it has never been considered by the Federal Executive Council, but the Honourable Minister of Information will throw more light on the matter.”
The Information Minister then said: “With due respect, the statement I made earlier on covers your question which is that “whatever may be the misunderstanding or problem between the executive and the National Assembly, we have an excellent mechanism for resolving it.
“I don’t think we need to go to specific statements as to what was said by A or B, we believe that government is not just one arm, the executive alone; government is the legislature, executive and judiciary. And I think my answer is still the same. Whatever might be the problem, we are resolving and we are addressing it.”
On perceived criticisms of the anti-corruption strategies of the administration, the AGF said government was adopting a new strategy that involves enforcement and sanctions to make it more effective.
He explained that the anti-corruption strategy approved by the Federal Executive Council was intended to strengthen the new strategy.
He said: “So, arising from this understanding, Ministries, Departments, Agencies, Legislature, Judiciary, Civil Society groups and religious bodies have all come together at a forum and developed a National Anti-Corruption Strategy which is intended to be a guide or a roadmap.
“That policy has now been developed by all these components and was today presented to FEC for approval. Incidentally, FEC approved the strategy and the roadmap is now that of implementation of the strategy towards the direction of collective buy-in as it relates to enforcement and sanctions relating to anti-corruption crusade and drive.”
Recovered loot and looters
On the court judgment for the Federal Government to disclose recovered loot and names of looters, Malami said the government was already doing so.
He said: “Well, with or without the ruling, I want to place on record that we have the Freedom of Information Act. You equally have to take into account and consideration the fact that there are a lot of factors that have to be considered as far as making the disclosures are concerned.
“There are matters that are sub-judice (pending in court); there are matters of reconciliation and compilations and associated cases.
“On compliance basis, the Federal Government has been making public, necessary statements and courts, in their own rights as well as in the course of their judicial adjudication of cases, keep making judgments and statements as it relates to the disclosure of parties, as it relates to the judgment that have been handed down arising from judicial sanctions.”
Also briefing journalists, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello, said the Council approved the four memoranda presented by his ministry.
He said the projects approved included final engineering design for Ring Road No. 4 at a cost of N242 million to be completed in six months.
Others are final engineering design for sewage system in the FCT at a cost of N241 million to be completed in nine months and final engineering design for completion of water treatment plant in the city at a cost of N233 million.