The Senate Thursday confirmed the re-appointment of Professor Oba Abdulraheem as the Chairman of Federal Character Commission (FCC) despite stiff opposition to his return from Senators Bukola Saraki (Kwara Central) and Shaba Lafiagi (Kwara North) who hail from his home state.
His confirmation, which followed a heated debate generated by the report of the Senate Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs, secured the support of majority senators who believed that Oba deserved a re-appointment having “repositioned” the commission.
But the Minority Leader, Senator George Akume and Senator Barnabas Gemade (Benue North-east) did not share the view of majority senators as they submitted that though Oba’s credentials and qualification for the job of FCC chairman were not in doubt, they alleged that he had not done his work well as the chairman of a regulatory commission.
Therefore, they submitted that when confirmed for a second term of five years, the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin “needs to bend backward” and ensure the commission does its oversight function as expected.
"While not being completely in agreement with the Minority Leader, I am in agreement with him that this man as a chairman of the Federal Character Commission, has in fact, not done his work to the total satisfaction of all concerned.
"So, when he gets back to this job, he should therefore try to know that beyond the strict adherence to the law, there are also certain sensibilities that must be taken care of," Gemade said.
However, while the Senate was still undecided on the confirmation of Oba, an air of resentment suddenly swept through the Senate when Senator Nenadi Usman (Kaduna South) told the chamber how Saraki had insisted that nobody could get anything from Kwara unless he had his blessing, thus implying that Oba could not get a second term because he had not endorsed it.
Nenadi said: “The question here from two of the two senators over this issue is that I took time to discuss with both senators. In fact, Senator James Manager and I visited Senator Bukola Saraki in his office on this very issue because we felt that as members of the PDP, we must not wash our dirty linen in public if at all there are dirty linens. But the question here should be that the person in question here, has he visited his senators, shown them respect or not and the answer here is, he has.
"I know one occasion when he was there; I went there with Senator James Manager. The unfortunate thing which everyone in this chamber knows is that when he visited the senator, he recorded their discussion, played it out and sent it through blackberry messenger back to his senatorial constituents where he showed and said that he believed he was that important.
"Otherwise, why were people coming to talk to him about the issue which means no one could get appointment from Kwara without his blessing? Yes, he said it. I think that this is distinguished a chamber; we are all distinguished members and we must act as distinguished members. I therefore called on each and every member of this distinguished Senate to please, support the confirmation of not just the professor but other members,"
The comment appeared to have created the impression of arrogance display by Saraki in the senators who seemed to immediately make up their minds to confirm Oba and indeed, when the Senate President, David Mark, called for a voice vote, there was no single dissenting voice. Both Saraki and Lafiagi were absent at the session.
Oba was confirmed alongside other members of the commission, viz: Dr. Femi Ogunsola (Kwara), Hon. Isibor Ifaluyi (Edo) and Mrs. Adaeze Idigo-Izundu.
In his remark, Mark noted that it was not in the best interest of the nation for “local politics” to be brought to national scene.