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Senate Faults Buhari’s Lopsided Appointments, Confirms 12 As NHRC Board Members

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The Senate on Tuesday faulted the lopsided appointment of federal board members by President Muhammadu Buhari just as it confirmed the appointment of 12 board members for the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, forwarded to it by the President.

The upper chamber also called on the federal government to review the demand for prospective JAMB students to have the National Identification Number (NIN) before registering for United Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME).

The confirmation of the NHRC nominees followed the consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, chaired by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele.

The nominees are Dr Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman as Chairman; Joseph Onyemaechi Mmamel, Ahmad Abubakar Fingilla, Kemi Asiwaju-Okenyodo, Abubakar Muhammed, Femi Okeowo, Sunday Etim Daniel, Agabaidu Chukwuemeka Jideani, Mrs Nella Andem-Rabana, SAN, Azubuike Nwakwenta, Jamila Isah and Mrs Idayat Omolara Hassan, as members of the commission.

In his submission, the ranking Senator noted that
the composition of the Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commission as presented to the 9th Senate does not comply with the provisions of the Constitution as it relates to the Federal Character Principles.

Bamidele maintained that absolute compliance with the provisions of the Constitution is not a choice but a fundamental obligation imposed on individuals, government and all its functionaries, as encapsulated in Section 13 of the Constitution.

“The human rights issues do not only affect a segment but cut across all parts of the country. As such, all the geo-political zones must be represented in conformity with the provisions of the Constitution, in the light of emerging human rights abuses in the country,” he added.

Bamidele stressed the need for the Senate to draw the attention of President Buhari to the lop-sidedness in the composition of the Governing Council of the NHRC, pointing out that the Senate and indeed the National Assembly do not only make law but also ensures that the laws are complied with, through the mechanisms of checks and balances.

He said it’s the duty of the National Assembly “to draw the attention of the executive who is saddled with the responsibilities of making nominations for appointments into any position in the country to ensure compliance with the Federal Character Principles in line with the Constitution.”

In his remarks, President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, urged the executive arm of government to always comply with the principles of federal character in future appointments.

The Senate also on Tuesday directed the Federal Ministry of Education, Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to review the use of National Identification Number, NIN as part of precondition for the registration of Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) candidates in 2021.

The upper legislative chamber specifically called for the extension of the JAMB registration deadline or suspension of the requirement until there is a seamless and well-organised process for obtaining the national identity number

Besides, it “urged the Federal Ministry of Education and NIMC to introduce or streamline a simple and decentralized NIN registration process where students would be able to obtain their NIN in their various accredited school premises.”

These resolutions were sequel to a motion of urgent national importance raised by Senator Ifeanyi Ubah (YPP Anambra South), who explained the “widespread hardship” currently being faced by students due to the JAMB’s decision.

Coming under Orders 42 and 43 of the Senate rules, Ubah said “this action is an inconsiderate and premature that has further complicated the already rigorous process of both registering for JAMB examination and procuring the NIN.”

He informed that JAMB had initially attempted to start the implementation of the policy in 2020, but postponed it due to technical problems and irregularities bedevilling the process of obtaining NIN from NIMC, adding that “from all indiçations, these technical hitches are yet to be addressed; the long queues at NIMC centres are a testimony to the fact that a well-organised process is yet to be put in place to ease the stressful process of registration.”
“Available statistics indicate that in 2020, more than two million candidates registered for JAMB examination.

Presently, the introduction of NIN threatens to significantly lower the number of registered candidates in 2021 because the majority of these candidates are just attaining the age when they can obtain the NIN.

“This is a brazen infringement on the right to education of young Nigerians who may not be able to meet the deadline to obtain their NIN and register for JAMB,” he stressed.

Ubah added that “the board already has enough logical and technical problems to tackle and adding more complications is counter-productive and will only serve as a hindrance to young Nigerians desirous of getting into higher institutions to further their education.”

Contributing, Senator Uche Ekwunife (PDP Anambra Central), noted that the policy has created a lot of difficulties for students to register for JAMB and therefore agreed to its suspension until the process of obtaining NIN improves.

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