Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja
The Senate yesterday approved the appointments of the Chairman and commissioners of the board of the National Hajj Commission (NAHCON) as requested for by President Goodluck Jonathan. The approval of the appointments meant the Upper Chamber waved aside petitions made against the nominees of the President. Jonathan had, in a letter forwarded to the Senate earlier this month, nominated Abdullahi Muktar Muhammad and eight others as the Chairman and commissioners, respectively, in view of the expiration of tenure of the outgoing management of the commission on the 24th day of this month. The urgency of the request made the Senate to forward it to its Committee on Foreign Affairs two weeks ago for consideration, upon which series of petitions were fired against the appointment of the nominees from both the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), headed by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, and some other stakeholders.
The NSCIA, in its petition, objected to the composition of the entire nominees presented to the Senate for the appointments. The Islamic body, among other reasons it cited in the petition is their claim that contrary to the provision of the Act, the President made the nominations, and forwarded the list to the Senate without consultation with the NSCIA or the Sultan. NSCIA, while substantiating its claim, quoted Section 3(2) of the NAHCON Act, 2006, which states that: “The President shall, after due consultation, appoints persons of proven integrity as Chairman and members of the commission, subject to confirmation by the Senate”. In his own personal petition, Malam Abdulmumini Adamu, kicked against the nomination of Abdullahi Muktar Muhammad as the Chairman designate without giving any specific reasons, while earlier petition filed by the Association for the Promotion of Consumer Rights International (PCRI) was withdrawn before the committee looked into the petitions. The Committee, in its recommendations, after going through the petitions, dismissed Adamu on the account of non appearance before it for substantiation.
It, however, counselled the Senate to use its discretion on the one filed by the NSCIA vis-a-vis confirmation of the appointments of the nominees. “The Committee conducted the screening in line with its mandate from the Senate, but it is constrained to make specific recommendations on the nominees because of the sensitivity of the petition from the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), which came half way into the exercise. “The Senate is kindly requested to consider and give further directives and guidance on the matter,” the recommendation read. But the Senate, while considering the report yesterday, ignored the NSCIA petition by confirming the appointments of the eight nominees as proposed by the President.
In a motion moved for setting aside the Senate Committee’s recommendation on the strength of the NSCIA petition, Senate leader, Victor Ndoma- Egba observed that Section 3(2) of the NAHCON Act 2006 quoted by NSCIA to back its petition does not specifically state that the body or the Sultan should be consulted by the President for such appointments. He explained that the Section only urges the President to make due consultation without specifically mentioning any person or body for such consultations, which he believed the President must have done before forwarding the names of the nominees.
He, therefore, urged the Senate to confirm the appointment of the nominees since there are no proofs from anybody or relevant institutions that the President did not carry out consultations before their nominations. In his submission, the Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Abdul Ningi, also rose in support of the Senate Majority Leader that the nominees’ should be confirmed by the Senate regardless of the petitions filed against them. “Mr. President, I rise to concur with the submission of the Senate Leader that the nominees presented before us by the President Jonathan for appointment into the board of NAHCON should be confirmed, having been screened by our committee on Foreign Affairs and found worthy of the appointments.
“Personally, these nominees, as far as I am concerned, are men and women of proven integrity meant for the jobs for which they are nominated for, no petition should be allowed to stand in their ways please,” he said. Senator Kabiru Gaya also rose in support of the confirmation of the nominees upon which the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the session, put their confirmation to voice votes one after the other, with all sailing through, except Mrs. Ada Mohammed S. Kaoje, whose nomination was not announced for confirmation.. Those confirmed aside the Chairman designate were: Yusuf Adebayo Ibrahim from Oyo State as the Executive Commissioner, Abdullahi Modibbo Saleh, from Adamawa State also as Executive Chairman.