27 July 2016
It was a theatre of the absurd at the Senate on Tuesday as ambassadorial nominees of President Muhammadu Buhari goofed on questions posed by the screening committee.
Fifteen of the 47 nominees sent for screening and possible approval went through the exercise which continues on Wednesday.
The nominee from Anambra, Vivian Okeke, who was asked to recite the national anthem, could only murmur when she got to the second to the last line of the first stanza – ‘One nation bound in freedom, peace and unity.’
The nominee from Oyo State, Shakirat Ogundero could name two out of three presidential candidates that contested the 2015 election.
As if their situations were not embarrassing enough, Ibrahim Isah, nominated from Niger State and currently serving in Nigeria’s embassy in Turkey, could not recite the National Pledge correctly.
When he got to the third to the last line – ‘to defend her unity and uphold her honour and integrity’ – he, instead said, ‘to defend her unity and integrity.’
Hakeem Balogun from Lagos State, currently serving in the United States, did not fare better as he began with the recitation of the old National Anthem – `Nigeria, we hail thee – before he was stopped and asked to begin all over. Then he got it right.
Another diplomat, currently serving in Japan, Jane Ndem, from Benue State, named Lagos as capital of Lagos State, instead of Ikeja. She had been asked to name 12 states in the country and their capitals. She could name only 11 states.
She, however, got the number of senators in the National Assembly (109) correctly and succeeded in naming senators representing her state.
Baba Garba, while reciting the pledge, skipped “to serve Nigeria with all my strength’’ line; he returned to it and skipped “to defend her unity’’.
Apologising for her inability to state the number of local government areas in her home Delta State, Janet Bisong was interrupted by one of the panellists, Senator James Manager, also from Delta, who quipped: “you know it; it’s 25.’’
The Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, led the nominees to the screening venue.
Many at the event could not hide their embarrassment. While some of the senators merely sighed, others burst into laughter each time there was a goof.
The lawmakers came to the rescue of the nominees each time they goofed.
Chairperson of the committee, Senator Monsurat Sunmonu, said it would send the report of the exercise to the Senate at plenary for consideration and confirmation.
President Buhari sent the list of the ambassadorial nominees to the Senate on July 9.