The Presidency on Monday justified the lobbying of legislators to get critical requests approved.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Babajide Omoworare, made this assertion in an interview with reporters in Abuja.
Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, however said the screening confirmation of the recently nominated ex-Service Chiefs for ambassadorial positions would be based on merit.
Omoworare said he is not aware if anybody has reached out to Senators to confirm a former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai and four other ex-Service Chiefs as ambassadors.
He insisted it was in order if any lobbying is ongoing to get the nominees confirmed.
Other ex-Service Chiefs nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari as envoys are General Abayomi Olonishakin (rtd), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas (rtd), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar (rtd), and Air Vice Marshal Mohammed Usman (rtd).
Omoworare said: “I will start by saying that the essence of governance and democracy, especially the relationship between the legislature and executive, Section 4 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) recognised the legislature before the executive in Section 5 and the judiciary is captured in Section 6 of the Constitution.
“It is all about lobbying; it is about talking to each other. You cannot achieve anything if you don’t talk to each other.
“Yes, a lot of people will tell you that the parliament is the watchdog of the executive.
“Yes. But you can hardly achieve anything without collaboration, coordination and negotiation.
“You must deliberate on almost everything that is done. It is not only executive bills. Even a private member bill, if you want your bill to pass you will try your best to talk to your colleagues to pass it.
“If somebody has lobbied you well, even if you don’t like the bill or the person’s motion, instead of being there to oppose it or support it you may decide to step out.
“So it happens. So there is no problem with lobbying. The executive lobbies legislators 24 hours, seven days of the week, the same way the legislators lobby the presidency.
“If you have a private member bill and you sit in your office and you think the President will assent to it without you lobbying, you are making a mistake because after all Section 58 of the Constitution gives the President the power to either sign or withhold his assent subject to upturning of his veto by the parliament with two-third majority votes.
“So, if anybody says there is any lobbying going, I am not aware of it. But if there is lobbying going on for the erstwhile Service Chiefs to pass, I sincerely think it is in order, it is not an aberration, it is not a transgression, it is not a sin for lobbying to occur.”
On the suitability of the ex-Service Chiefs for appointment as ambassadors, Omoworare said: “That does not mean they cannot be successful ambassadors.
“It is for the Senators to determine after looking at their profiles and credentials whether they can be good representatives of Nigeria.
“For them to even be Service Chiefs, it means they have attained some heights because being a Service Chief is being at the pinnacle of their career which is an achievement.”
On his part, Abdullahi said: “We promised to reconvene on 26th but because of the registration being undertaken by the majority party we had to extend our resumption by about two weeks.
“Now that we are resuming, some of the issues you have raised about the nomination of the Service Chiefs as ambassadors, I think we have not actually brought it to the floor of the Senate yet.
“The communication would be read hopefully by the Senate President tomorrow and we will pass it on to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and then the committee on Foreign Affairs will now do its deliberation.
“I cannot preempt what the committee is going to decide because the committee is made up of responsible and experienced senators who have also been ambassadors themselves.
“So they will know what is required for people to be appointed as ambassadors to represent the country in any country.
“The committee will do its work and after that they will bring the report to the Senate. I am sure all the questions will not escape the committee.
“I don’t want to preempt them. Let them do what is just and right and let them apply all the criteria for appointment of ambassadors for the country.”