From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidency has assured that the rift between the Executive and Legislative arms of government would be resolved soon.
Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said though remarks made by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo about the screening of nominees by the Senate was misconstrued, steps were being taken to resolve the matter amicably.
According to Shehu, the remark about screening of nominees for appointments did not originate from the acting president.
“Our understanding is that some remarks made by the acting president some months ago when he was the vice president, because the president was around at that time, an opinion he gave is being misconstrued. A senior lawyer in the country offered an opinion, in which he said some categories of public officers traditionally cleared by the National Assembly need not to go through that process, that those ones can be appointed by the presidential fiat; they don’t have to go through screening. But several months ago, in his position as vice president, Prof. Osinbajo gave a personal opinion saying what this lawyer said makes sense,” he said.
Shehu said the government or its cabinet has not taken any decision on such an issue.
“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,” he said.
Shehu added that, in compliance with the provisions of the law, the executive arm has been sending the names of its nominees to the National Assembly for screening and would continue to do so.
“From the time the vice president gave that opinion to now, more than 20 nominations have been forwarded to the Senate and quite a number of them have been screened, sworn-in and are now occupying positions. Therefore, this is not a big issue, as some people want to make it. The party, government and the National Assembly will sit on a round table and this matter will be discussed and resolved. I assure you.”
Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, also confirmed that the row between the two arms of government was being resolved by a mechanism that he said was already on ground.
According to Mohammed who briefed journalists at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting alongside the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Muhammad Bello: “Whatever may be the problem between the executive and the National Assembly, we have an excellent mechanism for resolving it. I don’t think we need to go to specific statements as to what was said by A or B; we believe that government is not one arm, but both the legislative, executive and judiciary arms. Whatever might be the problem, we are resolving it and we are addressing it.”
He, however, refused to give details of steps being taken to resolve the impasse.
The Senate on Tuesday resolved not to confirm executive nominees henceforth, till the acting president apologise for the remarks, which the Senate alleged undermined the authority of the legislature.
Meanwhile, FEC, yesterday, approved a new anti-corruption policy, tagged: “Anti-corruption Strategy” to provide a fresh impetus to anti-graft drive of the Federal Government.
Malami explained that the strategy was intended to strengthen enforcement of extant laws and sanctions of offenders.
He argued that notable progress had been recorded in anti-graft war as a result of various policies hitherto rolled out by the government to aid the fight.
He listed such policies to include the treasury single account (TSA), whistle blowing and government partnership with relevant institutions, policies, which he said, were geared towards promoting accountability and transparency in anti-graft drive.
“The anti-corruption strategy that has now been approved by the Federal Executive Council is intended to strengthen the enforcement and sanctions. So, arising from this understanding, ministries, department, agencies, legislature, judiciary, civil society group and religious bodies have all come together at a forum and developed a National Anti-Corruption Strategy, which is intended to be a guide or a roadmap for the enhancement and sanctions, processes associated with anti-corruption. “FEC approved the strategy and the roadmap is now that of implementation of the strategy towards the direction of collective buy-in as it relates to enforcement and sanctions relating to anti-corruption crusade and drive.”
Council also approved contracts worth N900 million for engineering and infrastructure design in different parts of the Federal Capital Territory.
A breakdown of the contracts showed that approval was given for Ring road four, which passes through Kubwa expressway, airport road, Southern expressway and the Wasa district at a cost of N242 million. Approval was also given for engineering design for Kabo district, to provide housing infrastructure.