Governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have kicked against the list of 46 non-career ambassadorial nominees which President Muhammadu Buhari sent to the Senate last week for confirmation.
The governors are irked that the Presidency did not consult them in the nomination of the proposed envoys.
The governors took their grievances to the State House, Abuja, where they told President Buhari that the nominees were unacceptable to them because the Presidency did not consult them in the exercise.
At an emergency meeting with the President, the governors, who were said to be very blunt, reportedly accused Buhari of bypassing them in nominating the would-be ambassadors.
So far, the President has sent two lists of 93 career and non-career envoys to the Upper House. The first batch of 47 ambassadors has been cleared by the Senate, but the Presidency is yet to post them to the country’s missions abroad.
The second batch of non-career ambassadors was unveiled by the Senate President Bukola Saraki on Thursday last week. He read Buhari’s letter seeking the Upper Chamber’s confirmation of the nominees.
The President’s action was greeted with criticisms by lawmakers whose states were not represented in the list.
Before the governors took their protest to Aso Rock on Monday, there were allegations that two members of Buhari’s kitchen cabinet solely compiled the list of the non-career ambassadors.
Amid the protest against the list, two nominees, Dr Usman Bugaje (Katsina State) and Mrs. Pauline Tallen (Plateau State) have turned down their nominations.
Dr Bugaje, who hails from the same state as Buhari, gave no reasons for rejecting his ambassadorial nomination.
But Mrs Tallen, a former deputy governor of Plateau State, said she could not serve in that capacity because she needs time to take care of her ailing husband.
Emerging from the meeting with the President, Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, told journalists that Buhari did not consult enough and violated the zoning arrangement for appointments in the states.
Lalong said this was why the governors complained to the President, who has promised to look into their grievances.
According to Lalong, “Part of the issues that we raised was on some of the appointments that were made. All the states that had complaints are going to put them in writing and the President promised to look into them.”
Describing Tallen as an astute politician from Plateau State, Lalong explained that her rejection of the ambassadorial nomination “is not only about her husband; I think it is the dimension of Plateau politics because I had already made complaints to Mr. President that appointments should not be concentrated in one zone.
“All these appointments came again from one zone. So, the complaints that are coming from our state are not about her personal interest; it is the fact that two ambassadorial appointments are coming from the same zone that we had complained, that is my zone.
“We had complained that the next appointment should go to the other zones – the Central or the Northern zone. So, when that appointment came, the kind of uproar that followed also necessitated an intervention.
“And I think as a matured politician, she stepped down and sacrificed that for the people of Plateau. We are still working on a replacement for that.
“It is not a big issue but at times, a little consultation would have solved that problem because these are issues in the interests of the state. So, you can’t have two appointments, very key appointments like that coming from a particular zone that is already overloaded with appointments.
“All the federal appointments are from the southern zone, and it would not be fair. So, it is the issue of fairness that we are approaching Mr. President to consider and appoint people from those areas that do not have representation,” he said.
Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, also told State House correspondents that the governors used the opportunity to discuss with Buhari other issues as they affect the country’s development.
He said: “We came particularly to encourage him (Buhari) and congratulate him on the release of the 21 Chibok Girls and we say that whatever action was taken to bring back these girls, let it be repeated so that the rest of the girls can be freed.
“Again, we came to report to Mr. President that his agriculture policy is producing results. This time around, we have bumper harvests in most parts of the country in rice production and others. So, that policy should be sustained.
“And the funding policy by CBN – the Anchor Borrowers Scheme – should be encouraged because it is yielding results. In the next couple of years, Nigeria will be self-sufficient in food production.
“We also encouraged him on the fight against corruption; that he should continue with it. We know that in the pursuit of good programmes, certain lapses will be noticed and there is nothing wrong in pursuing a good cause.
“We also looked at the issue of Ondo State governorship election and said we are happy that we have delivered the first state under his administration which is Edo State; but in Ondo, the governors have decided to show support for it so that APC will take over the government of Ondo State.”
Okorocha added that the meeting, however, did not discuss the issue of Buhari’s anti-corruption onslaught on the Judiciary.
On the crisis rocking the APC as a result of the Ondo governorship primary, Okorocha said that it would be resolved before election as “these were some of the things we discussed.”
He also spoke on the call on the APC’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, to resign.
Okorocha said: “We are not talking about anybody resigning. We are talking about rebuilding the party to make it stronger, right from the ward level to the national level”.
On the prevailing hardship in the country, Okorocha said although it was not caused by the APC, the party must take responsibility for it while working to make things better for the citizens.