By Henry Umoru
ABUJA—Senators were, yesterday, divided over the failure of President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint people from South East as service chiefs or as representatives in the National Defence Council, NDC, and National Security Council, NSC.
Divided along party lines, especially between Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and All Progressives Congress, APC, the senators said the non-appointment of south easterners into these positions was not in consonance with the federal character principle as enshrined in the constitution.
Following the sharp disagreement among the lawmakers, the call on the President to reconstitute the composition of membership of the National Defence Council and National Security Council to comply with the Federal Character Principle as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, suffered a major setback.
The development followed a motion by Senator Victor Umeh (APGA, Anambra Central), entitled: “Urgent need to appoint a representative of South-East into National Defence Council and National Security Council.”
Umeh had also in his prayer, urged President Buhari to appoint an officer from the South-East as service chief for equitable representation of the people of the South-East of Nigeria in National Defence Council and National Security Council, but his prayers also suffered a major set back.
In his presentation, Umeh explained that by virtue of Section 153(1)(g), particularly third schedule part 1 of the 1999 Constitution, the council shall comprise the president as the chairman, vice president as deputy chairman, Minister of Defence, Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Chief of Air Staff, and such other members as the president may appoint.
Na’Allah cautions Senate
But the Deputy Leader of the Senate, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC Kebbi South), accused the sponsor of the motion of “gross misunderstanding of the provisions of the constitution on the matter” and warned against politicising security issues in the country.
Senator Na’Allah, who cautioned the Senate to be extremely careful on its position on the matter, however, maintained that “it has never been a deliberate policy of any government since 1999 to exclude any section of the country.”
Speaking in the same vein through a point of order, Senator Jibrin Barau (APC Kano North), described the motion as misleading and asked its sponsor to apologise to the lawmakers for misleading them.
Also coming from a constitutional point of order 153(g), Senator Mao Ohunabuwa (PDP Abia North), said it was a security matter that should not be trivialised and, therefore, sought the support of his colleagues on the matter.
In his remarks, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said though the motion was well highlighted by Senator Umeh, he refused to call for adoption of its prayers, saying it was well noted.