The Senate, on Tuesday, resumed from its two-week vacation and resolved to suspended all issues relating to the confirmation of nominees submitted by the executive over what it termed as a move to reduce its legislative powers.
The senators said the decision would remain until the issues of confirmation as contained in the Constitution and the laws of the federation were adhered to.
The Senate also urged acting President Yemi Osinbajo to respect the constitution and laws enacted by the National Assembly as related to confirmation of appointments.
It also urged the acting president to withdraw his earlier statement that the Senate did not have powers to confirm some officers and, henceforth, adhere to the constitution.
The resolution followed the presentation of a letter from the acting president for the confirmation of Mr Lanre Gbajabiamila as Director-General, National Lottery Regulatory Commission, read by the President of the Senate Dr Bukola Saraki during Tuesday’s plenary.
“In compliance with the provisions of section 8 (1A) of the National Lottery Act 2005, I write to forward the name of Mr Lanre Gbajabiamila as the nominee for the position of Director General National Lottery Regulatory Commission for the consideration and appointment of the Senate.
“If confirmed, Lanre Gbajabiamila will serve for an initial period of four years and may be reappointed for a further term of four years and no more.
“The Curriculum Vitae of Lanre Gbajabiamilami is attached for your perusal. It is, therefore, my hope that the Distinguished Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria do consider and confirm the appointment of the nominee in the usual expeditious manners.”
In a swift reaction, Sen. Ahmad Yerima (APC-Zamafara) cited Order 14 of the Senate Standing Rules which was based on privileges.
He reminded the Senate that the Acting President had once stated that the Senate had no power to confirm nominees sent to it by the presidency.
“I don’t know whether the Acting President is changing his statement or action by this letter,” Yerima said.
According to him, the issue must be clarified by the Senate before going ahead with the consideration of the request.
Another lawmaker Sen. George Sekibo (PDP-Rivers), who was sacked by an Election Tribunal last week but has appealed the matter, said the Senate should suspend the request till the issue on has the power of confirmation was cleared.
“A careful look at what is happening today is that either the executive is indirectly quietening the legislature or taking over our responsibilities,” he said.
On his part, Sen. Olusola Adeyeye (APC-Osun) said “these were frightening talks.
“They are frightening because many Nigerians put their lives on the line to ensure that we have democratic governance in Nigeria.
“I want to remind all of us that the difference between a military regime, however benevolent, and a democratic government is the presence of a legislature whose responsibilities is defined by the constitution.
“Whether you serve in the executive, legislature or judiciary, everyone is called to obey the laws of the republic,” he said.
According to Adeyeye, no one has the permission to dance around a law passed by the National Assembly, signed by the President and gazetted.
“Whoever has a problem with any law should go to court. Until a court declares it null and void it remains the law of the land. Anyone who does not respect it is breaking the law of the land,” he said.
Also Sen. Sam Anyanwu (PDP-Imo) said he was surprised that the Senate was still reading letters of confirmation from the Presidency.
“We must take a stand. If the leadership does not do anything about this matter within four days, we will go against the leadership of the Senate,” he said.
Also contributing Sen. Dino Melaye (APC-Kogi) said it was time for the Senate to tell the executive that they must stop “approbating and reprobating”.
“This republic that our founding fathers fought for and the Senate which our founding fathers fought for is about to be completely destroyed,” he said.
Similarly, Sen. Isa Misau (APC-Bauchi) said the action of the executive was aimed at stopping the National Assembly from performing its functions.
“We are here to serve the people. We must show the people that we stand for the truth.
“If we are not able to face these challenges, there will come a time when someone will tell us that we cannot come to the National Assembly anymore.
“This is blackmail. This is an issue of double standard,” Misau said.
Lending his voice to the debate, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu said the very distinct feature of the Senate was the power of confirmation.
“It is important that the executive should have a clearer understanding of the position of the constitution. The procedure for the appointment and the tenure for public officers is clear in the constitution and we must follow the law,” he said.
In his remarks, the President of the Senate Dr Bukola Saraki said that the matter needed to be addressed and put behind by the Senate.
“We must respect the constitution and laws enacted by National Assembly,” Saraki said.