Almost two weeks after the constitution of a committee to resolve the Executive-Senate face off, the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo-led committee is yet to formally contact the Senate, or hold a meeting with the upper legislative chamber on the contentious issues.
The committee was created at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari to smoothen the deteriorating relationship between the executive and the Senate, following the decision of the Senators to suspend consideration of all executive requests until Buhari fires the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
The Senators were miffed that the president refused to act on the Senate’s memo formally conveying their rejection of Magu as the substantive EFCC chairman and allowing him to continue to act as head of the commission.
They therefore suspended for two weeks the process of confirmation of 27 persons nominated as Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and two ministerial nominees for the federal cabinet.
The decision to suspend the confirmation process was taken to allow the leadership of the Senate interface with the executive and convey the feelings of the senators to the president.
The constitution of the reconciliation committee on March 29 was hailed as the right move towards fixing the relationship between the warring parties, with the Senate expressing its readiness to work with the committee towards forging a harmonious relationship.
Sources however told newsmen that since the announcement of the constitution of the committee and its membership from the executive, nothing more has been heard from the presidency.
Newsmen gathered that the Senate is yet to be formally notified about the terms of reference of the committee, or about the need to nominate members to be part of the committee.
A meeting which held on the night of April 5 between the vice-president and the leadership of the National Assembly, including Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, focused on the counterpart funding for the $6.5 billion Chinese loan targeted at railway projects as its only agenda.
“We had thought that meeting was about the reconciliation efforts, apparently it was not. As of today, there has been no formal communication from the office of the vice-president or from the Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed who announced the establishment of the committee after the FEC meeting.
“We therefore simply consider the announcement as a political move which is fast looking like a smokescreen,” a Senate source said.
“If there has been any communication, with notice of a meeting, at least the Senate leadership would have announced the members from our side,” the source said.
Another senator, who preferred not to be named, added that the development has led to skepticism among his colleagues, some of whom no longer believe that Buhari is interested, or committed to a harmonious relationship with the Senate.
He said senators were also skeptical of the ability of Osinbajo to meet the mandate of the committee, following his recent comments on Magu.
Osinbajo was recently quoted as saying Magu’s appointment does not require legislative approval and that the president would not replace him, despite his rejection twice by the Senate on the basis of a Department of State Services (DSS) report that indicted him and declared him unfit for the office.
“The comments indicate that the VP who is charged with resolving the fight between the Senate and executive has already taken a position.
“Remember that the issue of Magu is the main reason for the recent disagreement,” the senator said.
He added that most of the lawmakers considered Osinbajo’s comments as offensive, effectively destroying his capacity to mediate in the face off.
Attempts to reach the spokesperson of the Senate, Senator Sabi Abdullahi were futile, as he was said to be away on pilgrimage.