Senate rejects Buhari’s NERC chair nominee


The senate has failed to confirm Akintunde Akinwande, the nominee of President Muhammadu Buhari for the chairmanship position of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

Citing Akinwande’s failure to appear before it for screening, the upper chamber asked President Buhari to send another nominee for the position.

However, the senate confirmed the nominees for the positions of vice-chairman and commissioners.

After his appointment was announced, Akinwande, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), did not present himself to the Department of State Services (DSS) for for security checks.

He also failed to appear before the Senate twice in October, a move that was interpreted as a rejection of the appointment.

But the presidency dismissed reports on his rejection, attributing Akinwande’s absence to his inability to tidy up his papers before the screening date.

Senior Special Assistant to the president on National Assembly matters (senate), Sen. Ita Enang, had said the nominee had written to ask for more time.

He had said Akinwande was trying to formalise his resignation at MIT, where he lectures.

But at a second screening session convened by the power committee chaired by Eyinnaya Abaribe, a senator from Abia state, Akinwande was not just absent, he informally told the committee that he was not available for the job.

A source had said Akinwande sent a text message to a member of the committee that he was uninterested in the job.

But Enang tried to persuade the committee not to interprete Akiwande’s absence to mean that he had declined the president’s nomination.

“I would want to plead to the committee that the nominee was simply absent. I will communicate with the president and get more information about him and get back,” he said.

This remark was quickly rebuffed by members of the committee, who openly declared that they had tried enough and would not be ready to reconvene a third screening session for Akinwande.

At this point, Suleiman Hunkuyi, a lawmaker, posed a question to Enang: “But if somebody says ‘I will not be able to make it’, what does he imply?”

Enang was unable to respond.

The committee said it would submit its report on the screening and a final decision on Akinwande would be communicated to the senate at plenary.

Another source said Akinwande turned down the job because he was not consulted before the announcement was made, and also because he was not ready to leave his present businesses.

“We also learnt that enough consultation was not made before the man was nominated,” the source said, adding that Akinwande also failed to present himself to the Department of State Services (DSS) .

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