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Appointments: Senate tasks Buhari on eligibility, federal character principle



Appointments: Senate tasks Buhari on eligibility, federal character principle
Worried by the lopsidedness of appointments by President Muhammadu Buhari in the past, the Senate has appealed to all stakeholders who participate in the process of executive and judicial appointments in this country, especially individuals and bodies saddled with the responsibility of making recommendations to the President to ensure compliance with both the eligibility criteria, as well as the federal character principle as contained in the Constitution.
The chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC Ekiti Central), said this has become necessary “in order to avoid unnecessarily heating up the polity and eroding the unity and strength of our country and in the process, weakening the foundation of our country as well as the hope of its federating units.”
Bamidele, who spoke on Monday during the screening of Hon. Justice Salisu Garba Abdullahi as the Chief Judge designate of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory FCT, Abuja, by the committee, maintained that the duo of eligibility criteria and federal character principle, shall continue to be guided by the National Assembly with a view to strengthening the nation’s unity.
He said: “We have an extremely bright and exciting future in one indivisible and indissoluble nation that is propelled by unity in diversity and all hands must be on deck to ensure this aspiration is guided jealously.”
The chairman particular stressed the need for merit and compliance in the consideration of citizens for appointment, including the ones that will come before the Senate for confirmation, must be re-emphasised for the record.
“In addition to ensuring that potential appointees meet the eligibility criteria stipulated for the relevant public offices into which they are being appointed, adequate care must also be taken to ensure that the federal character principle established by virtue of the clear provision of Section 14, Sub-section (3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as altered) is not undermined,” he maintained.
In a related development, Bamidele has called for the review of salaries of judges and justices in the country, saying poor renumeration is capable of exposing them to temptation.
According to him, the salary structure of judges was last reviewed in 2008 through an act of parliament.
He said: “As at that time, exchange rate of naira to a US dollar was N117 as against N467. It is now, clearly showing that judges and even depreciating in value.
“The N110billion allocation to the judiciary is not enough for this important arrm of government. The amount is not up to one percent of the national budget.”
He therefore maintained that the salary and general welfare of judges require major review for the betterment of the judiciary and dispensation of justice.
Bamidele commended the President for nominating Hon. Justice  Abdullahi, being the most senior Judge on the bench of the High Court of the FCT, saying “this is the best way to ensure consistency in the judicial system for the betterment of the judiciary.”
He also reiterated that the fiscal autonomy of both the judiciary and the legislature at the state level, as it is at the federal level, is non-negotiable.
This, he explained “is by ensuring autonomy for all arms of government in a way that no arm of government can hold the others to ransom, that itself being the legislative intent of Sections 81 (3) and 121 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Linked to the desired fiscal autonomy for each of the three arms of Government is also the urgent, cogent and compelling
Bamidele also emphasized the urgent need for fiscal autonomy of each of the tiers (federal, state and local) of government, specifically as it relates to local government autonomy, in order to have a healthy democracy founded on true federalism.
In his response, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Babajide Omoworare said all observations and concerns raised by the chairman would be related to the President, “saying “this is the best way to ensure consistency in the system for the betterment of the judiciary.
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