Fate of some ambassadorial nominees sent for Senate’s confirmation by President Muhammadu Buhari may be hanging in the balance, as they fumbled during their screening by the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs yesterday in Abuja.
Specifically, three of the prospective envoys fumbled in different ways while responding to questions from the committee members.
However, the senior special assistant to the president on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang in a statement last night gave the nominees pass mark.
The nominee from Anambra State, Vivian Okeke who was screened first by the panel failed in her recitation of the National Anthem by omitting 11 words in the the last stanza of the anthem, that is, “to serve with heart and might , one nation bound in freedom,” before ending with “peace and unity.”
Also, the nominee from Niger State, Ibrahim Isa failed in the last stanza of the National Pledge when he was told to recite it by saying “to defend her unity and integrity. So help me God,” instead of “to defend her unity and uphold her honour and glory. So help me God.”
The most shocking of such failures from the nominees came from Jane Ndem from Benue State who in her response to question posed to her by the chairman of the committee, Senator Monsurat Sunmonu (APC Oyo Central), on mentioning of 12 out of the 36 states in the federation and their capitals, mentioned Lagos and added Lagos as its capital.
Apparently dazed by her submission, a member of the committee, James Manager (PDP Delta South), interjected by asking capital of Lagos, Lagos? to which the nominee responded affirmatively by saying “yes, capital of Lagos State is Lagos because I even started my working career there,” which made the entire eight-man committee to burst into laughter.
However, the nominees made very good submissions in their responses to other questions in terms of policy statement.
Okeke in her submission on difficulties being faced by the embassies, mentioned underfunding as the major problem crippling the nation’s embassies which, according to her, has turned to big embarrassment to staff of the embassies who are more or less squeezing water out of stone to run the embassies.
Pressed further on his knowledge of foreign economic blue print, the nominee explained succinctly how China got their economic prosperity right because their president as at the time of their recession decided to shut its doors against import from other nations and was busy rebuilding China through domestic policy approach.
She also stressed that if Nigeria could configure its foreign policies with the interest of benefiting from resources abroad, it would help the situation immensely.
A total of 15 out of 47 nominees were screened by the committee yesterday.
In his refutal of blunders committed by some of the screened nominees, Enang in a statement issued last night said the reported blunders were misrepresentation of fact.
The statement read: “Our attention has been drawn to report by a section of the media that some Ambassadorial Nominees were unable to recite the National Anthem and Pledge while appearing before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs for screening today.
“May I state that the nominees were able to respond to questions asked them and also recited the National Anthem and Pledge when called upon. As such, the report by the media is incorrect.
“Subjecting them to criticisms at this point over a situation which never happened in the first place is most unfair and uncalled for.
“Let me use this opportunity to appreciate the effort of the chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Monsurat Sumonu, and members of the committee, for the intellectual and thorough manner in which the exercise is being carried out,” Enang posited.