A Coalition of Civil Society Groups on Monday threatened to institute legal action against President Muhammadu Buhari if the appointment of Board members of the North East Development Commission, NEDC and the Managing Director are not reversed.
The group while urging the President to reverse the order within 72 hours or face legal action, stressed that the President bypassed the Senate to make such appointments which contravenes constitutional provisions.
The CSOs made the call in an address signed by their leaders including Secretary, Coalition of Civil Society Groups, Abubakar Ibrahim; President, First Alliance Group, Olumide Kingsley Egbeola; Convener, Centre for Public Accountability, Akindele Oluwafemi; President, African Leadership Strategy & Transparency Development Initiative, Nelson Osaize; and President, Northern Nigeria Good Governance Forum, Ibrahim Sule.
In the address read during a press conference held in Abuja, the Coalition said Buhari’s directive to bypass the Senate’s confirmation of the board and MD of NEDC was a deliberate affront to the Constitution and subverting the process of appointing public office holders, therefore, declared it is unconstitutional.
“Our attention has been drawn to the recent unconstitutional role played by Mr President in the recent appointment he did barely a few days to handover.
“We are worried that, why the hurry in confirming an appointment made by him without the senate ratifying same as laid down by appointment procedure stated in Section 147 of the constitution, such appointments made by President and not confirmed by the senate shall be null and void.
“This breach of constitutional provisions will not stand. We condemn the action of the outgoing president in the strongest term. The action is condemnable and totally unacceptable.
“We declare that the new board must be cleared by the Nigerian Senate before they resume and therefore call on President Buhari to reverse his earlier decision ordering them to resume officer without the clearance of the Nigeria Senate and allow a senior officer in the commission to hold sway pending the confirmation of the newly appointed managing director and Chief executive officer and other board members.
“We thus see the recent declaration and directive to resume office without Senate confirmation as autocratic, undemocratic and above all reminds us of a Military regime which should not be brought into any democratic process.
“This directive for the new Board and Managing Director of NEDC appointed by President Buhari to resume office without confirmation from the senate confirmation is wrong and should not make to stand”, the group said.
“The question to ask is, why did Mr President give such a directive to resume office in an acting capacity pending when the Senate will confirm or rectify the newly appointed Managing Director of the Commission and others?
“This declaration of resumption setting aside Senate confirmation is unconstitutional and should not be supported when we have few days to go for this regime.
“The North East Development Commission is by extension the creation of National Assembly, thus the management and board must be ratified by the Senate in conformity with laid down rules. This is important so as to ensure we have the right people that can deliver on the mandate to lead the organization and activate the oversight functions of the same institution.
“The argument of vacuum being created before Senate confirmation is laughable, does it mean that nobody can act within the commission pending when Senate screens and approves their appointments? The process of undergoing senate screening is constitutional and should not be jettisoned for illegality”, the group added.
Meanwhile, the Coalition claimed that “there is nothing to hurry about as our findings show that we have capable hands that can direct the activities effectively for the commission while we await senate screening and confirmation.
“We hereby call on President Buhari to as a matter of urgency revert back to the old order. The decision of the newly appointed MD to resume duty is wrong and should not be one of the negative legacies the outgoing government will leave behind.
“We must adhere to our laid down rules and laws, this should not be circumvented at any point in time. The power of the Senate should not be undermined nor swept under the carpet.
The group called on Nigerians to join them to stop the alleged illegality and impunity demonstrated by Buhari.
“We also expect all well-spirited Nigerians to rise up now and let’s make President Buhari do the right thing and put in place a sound legacy few days to exit from office. Recall, that the same wrong decision was taken a few years back (2015) when some Vice Chancellors were wrongly sacked based on wrong advice from the under-performing Minister of Education by Mr President.
“Although the sack was not reversed, when the facts were laid in protest against the decision, President Buhari eventually apologized for the wrong decision.
“We expect the same quick reversal of the directive given for the resumption of Umar Abubakar Hashidu as Managing Director of NEDC and others.
“This call becomes imperative and important for the right thing to be done and for the state actors not to unilaterally set aside our standing rules based on their personal interest.