SENATE CONFIRMS UKURA AS AGF

By NBF News
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In spite of stiff opposition by some senators, the Senate, on Wednesday, confirmed the appointment of Mr. Samuel Ukura from Benue State as the auditor-general of the federation.

The confirmation came on the heels of stiff opposition by some senators, particularly from the South West geo-political zone, namely, Senators Sola Akinyede, Isiaka Adeleke, Ayo Arise and Festus Ola. They opposed the confirmation of Mr. Ukura on the basis that two other senior directors that included the current Acting Auditor-General of the Federation, Mr. Gabriel Odusina, were deliberately excluded from the nomination process.

Section 86 of the 1999 Constitution provides that 'the auditor-general for the federation shall be appointed by the president on the recommendation of the Federal Civil Service Commission subject to confirmation by the Senate.

'The power to appoint a person to act in the office of the auditor-general shall be vested in the president. Except with sanction of a resolution of the Senate, no person shall act in the office of the auditor-general for a period exceeding six months.'

However, Senator Akinyede, who led other senators against the confirmation, said his petition before the Senate Committee on Public Accounts that carried out the screening exercise on Mr. Ukura, was neither given consideration nor reflected in the report. Mr. Ukura was nominated for the appointment last year by late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua but due to protest from several stakeholders, his confirmation faced long delay.

The Senate Committee on Public Accounts, chaired by Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan (ANPP, Yobe North) that screened Ukura recommended that he should be confirmed having found him worthy, qualified and fit for the job. Senator Sola Akinyede (PDP, Ekiti) further said that the nomination of Mr. Ukura by the Federal Civil Service Commission was effected through the adoption of some unconstitutional requirements to disqualify two senior directors in the AGF's office from applying for the job.

According to Senator Akinyede, 'the directors working in the AGF's office were excluded by a provision that is unconstitutional. The provision that any person with less than two years to retirement need not apply is not fair. I have nothing against this nominee but the process that brought him lacks transparency.' In his own contribution, Senator Isiaka Adeleke (PDP, Osun) said that the two senior directors were deliberately excluded from the process because they were from the South-West zone.

However, Senator Umaru Dahiru (PDP, Sokoto) said Section 86 of the Constitution was clear on who had the prerogative to appoint an AGF, saying the Constitution did not make recommendation for qualification as the president could nominate anybody irrespective of whether there were directors in the place or not.

'Section 86 (2) of the constitution provides that 'The power to appoint persons to act in the office of the Auditor-General shall vest in the President.'

Before putting the matter to voice vote, President of the Senate, David Mark, described as unfortunate the attempt to reduce the matter to an ethnic issue, stressing that, 'The quarrel is not with us but with the Civil Service Commission. This argument is a bit late. You should have stopped it before now.' When the question was eventually put for voice vote, the ayes had the day.

Mr. Ukura, until his confirmation, by the Senate, yesterday, was a director of audit with the Benue State government.