by Hassan Adebayo,
A nominee of President Muhamadu Buhari for the position of national commissioner of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Aliyu Abubakar, told senators, before whom he appeared for screening on Wednesday, that the Senate should be scrapped.
Mr. Abubakar, nominated to represent North East on the NCC board, told the Senate committee on communications chaired by Gift Nnaji (PDP-Enugu) that the upper legislative arm was a waste of resources and, therefore, “must go”.
Mr. Abubakar, Bauchi State, participated in the #OccupyNASS campaign, months ago, seeking end to bicameral legislature, scrapping of the Senate and removal of Bukola Saraki as Senate President in view of his corruption trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
One of the committee members challenged Mr. Abubakar on why he led a protest against the Senate, same body he faced to be screened and confirmed for appointment.
He was confronted with photographs of himself and others protesting at the NASS gate and asking that the Senate be scrapped.
But an unrepentant Mr. Abubakar not only owned up to participating in the organised action against the Senate, but insisted and gave reasons why it should be scrapped.
That senators receive huge transport, wardrobe and dressing allowances and they purchase expensive cars from public purse, an economic loss to the country, Mr. Abubakar said.
“The Senate is an avenue for wastage of scarce economic resources of the country… Senate must go,” he said.
Addressing reporters after the session with the Senate committee, he attempted to clarify his position, saying that he only admitted to participating in the protest against NASS and stated reasons why he did.
“It is not true that I told members of the committee that the Senate should be scrapped. They asked me whether I was part of the group that agitated for the scrapping of the Senate and I said yes because of so many things involved in the Senate and their budget.
“They asked me to state the reasons why we were agitating for the scrapping of the Senate, I said it is because of their huge budget; they consume a lot of resources from the government; they put it in their own budget.
“Also, they have transport allowance and, yet, they budget a lot of money to acquire vehicles.”
Still, when asked if he stood by his position during the protest, he said, “The Senate must go because something has to be done to cut down the expenses on the Senate. I still maintain that.”
“Procuring” Credentials After Nomination
Earlier, at the screening session, the Senate committee said it saw “grave irregularities” in the personal and academic records of Mr. Abubakar.
Apart from his birth certificate, Mr. Abubakar submitted affidavit and police extract dated same date, claiming loss of credentials.
The committee expressed suspicion that Mr. Abubakar “procured” the affidavit and police extract after he was nominated by Mr. Buhari.
Also, Mr. Abubakar’s highest academic qualification is a “Diploma in Computer” from Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University with an attached statement of result dated September 23, 2016 – again a date after his nomination.
He was then asked to explain why he submitted documents received after he had been nominated and if he’s suitable for the NCC job with his academic background in view of the expertise required.
Mr. Abubakar said he “did not bother to go for the credentials having been self-employed prior to the nomination.”
He said he “only went to school merely for knowledge.”
However, the person nominated to chair the board, Bisi Durojaiye, a former senator who also headed the communications committee, said he was committed to seeing a stronger Senate and was worried about the public perception of the legislature.
He said, “The oldest living former Senator, Chief Reuben Farosanti, who just clocked 91” requested for a closed door meeting of the current Senate and the old generation in view of the public perception and “the heat from the other side”.