Absence of Chairman-designate stalls screening of NERC Board members
The absence of Professor Akintunde Akinwande nominated last week by President Muhammadu Buhari as Chairman of Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), at the screening by Senate Committee on Power has compelled the Senate to suspend the screening of others. No reason was given by the Presidency for the absence of the Professor which the Senate termed as insult to them.
Akinwande was to be screened along with six other nominees for membership of the Commission, but he was absent without any communications on his absence which led the committee to call off of the session.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Mr. Solomon Ita Enang, tried to persuade the committee to screen other nominees who were present for the screening but he was rebuffed as chairman of the committee, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, declared that the failure of the Presidency to inform the Senate about the reasons for the absence of the nominee amounted to disrespect.
It was however gathered that Professor Akinwande turned down the nomination “because he was not consulted before the nomination was made”. The Professor was said to be engaged in the United States where he is currently doing a study project.
The Committee Chairman, Senator Abaribe said there was no way the screening could go on in the absence of the chairman -designate.
He added that the inauguration of the board of NERC was key to solving the problems of the sector.
“Regrettably, when members of the committee assembled to screen the nominees made by President Buhari, we were told that the chairman designate was unavoidably absent. The Presidential liaison who brought the nominees informed us that the chairman was unavoidably absent.
“There was no way the committee could go on with the screening without the chairman designate. Since the nomination was made over three months ago, the Presidency should have known whether the chairman designate would attend the screening or not”, he said.
Names of the other nominees for the board appointment included, Sanusi Garuba (Vice Chairman), Nathan R. Shatti (commissioner), Dr. Moses Arigu (commissioner), Dafe C. Akpeneye (commissioner), Prof. Frank Okafor (commissioner) and Musiliu O. Oseni (commissioner).
It would be recalled that two out of the 48 non-career ambassadorial nominees sent to the Senate for confirmation, have rejected their nominations. They are Pauline Tallen from Plateau State and Usman Bugaje from Katsina State. Before then, Senator Osita Izunaso had rejected his appointment into the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) early this month.