Abandoned by FEC, Buhari’s aides, Osinbajo stands alone

The rift and bad blood inherent in the ailing President Buhari’s government came to the fore Wednesday when the Federal Executive Council literarily abandoned Acting President Yemi Osinbajo in his face off with members of the legislature.

The upper legislative chamber had on Tuesday criticised Mr. Osinbajo for allegedly questioning their constitutional authority to confirm the nomination of appointees by the executive arm over their refusal to confirm Ibrahim Magu as the substantive chairman of EFCC.

They subsequently resolved not confirm any nominee sent to them by the executive unless Osinbajo withdraws the statement and also dismiss Magu as Acting Chairman of EFCC.

The lawmakers were referring to Prof Osinbajo’s comments in April at a meeting with senior media executives where he said that President Buhari and himself retained confidence in Ibrahim Magu despite his rejection by the Senate.

Osinbajo said then, “There is an argument, whether or not we need to present him (Magu) for confirmation and that’s a compelling argument from Femi Falana.”

“His (Falana) argument is that under the Constitution, section 171, and if you look at that section, it talks about the appointments that the president can make. They include appointments of ministers, ambassadors, and heads of agencies such as the EFCC. In that same section 171, the Constitution rightly said that certain appointments must go to the Senate such as ministerial and ambassadorial appointments. Those of heads of agencies like the EFCC do not have to go to the Senate. That’s what the constitution says. But the EFCC Act, which of course as you know is inferior, says that EFCC chairman should go to the Senate for confirmation.

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“I am sure that even a pocket book lawyer knows that when a legislation conflicts with the constitution, it’s the constitution that prevails. I agree with Mr. Falana that there was no need in the first place to have sent Magu’s name to the Senate.”

Responding to questions on the issue after a meeting of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, The Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Malami said the Federal Executive Council never discussed the continued stay and possible re-nomination of Ibrahim Magu as chairman of the anti-graft agency and that the stance by the Acting President was his personal opinion.

Malami said, “The fundamental consideration about the alleged statement is the fact that at no point ever did the Federal Executive Council sit down to arrive at the decision in one-way or the other as far as the issue of nomination or otherwise is concerned.

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“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 FEC.”

Many political watchers believe that Malami could have handled the matter with more tact but by throwing the Acting President under the bus, the rift in the administration was once again brought to public view.

Reacting to the development on Wednesday, Mr. Garba Shehu, President Buhari’s spokesman agreed with the position of Malami but said all parties involved in the matter would soon meet to resolve it.

Shehu said,…“There is no official position by the government of Nigeria, and the Federal Executive Council never sat down to take a decision to say that some categories of officials will not be sent to the National Assembly any longer or that the authority of the Senate under the Constitution to screen and pass nominees has never been questioned by the government or the Federal Executive Council…”

“The party, government and the National Assembly will sit on a round table and this matter will be discussed and resolved. I assure you.”