On Tuesday, The Senate began screening 47 ambassadorial nominees appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari for legislative approval.
On June 9, President Buhari sent 47 names of Nigerians to the Senate for screening and confirmation as career diplomats.
In a personally signed letter dated June 6, 2016, The President requested that the Senate approve the list at the shortest possible time.
There was, however, drama during the exercise.
Some of the nominees, who were questioned by members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs chaired by Senator Monsurat Sunmonu, could not correctly sing the national anthem or recite the national pledge.
The nominees were asked questions ranging from diplomatic issues to the names of the senators representing their states.
While some of them stuttered while reciting either the anthem or the pledge, others missed their lines completely.
Vivia Okeke (Anambra State), who asked to recite the anthem but she murmured when she got to the second to the last line of the first verse, “One nation bound in freedom.” The panelists however came to her rescue.
Ibrahim Isah from Niger State, who is currently serving in Turkey, was asked to recite the national pledge. When he reached the third to the last line, he said, “To defend her unity and integrity,” instead of “to defend her unity and uphold her honour and glory.”
Hakeem Balogun from Lagos State, who currently serves in the United States, recited the old national anthem to a point and had to be asked to start again before he got it right.
Jane Ndem from Benue State, who currently serves in Japan, got the number of lawmakers in the Senate (109); she also got the names of senators representing her state but when she was asked to name 12 states in Nigeria and their capitals, she got 11 but named Lagos as the capital of Lagos instead of Ikeja.
Shakirat Ogundero from Oyo State was able to name two out of the presidential candidates in the 2015 election – Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari.
Baba Garba, while reciting the pledge, skipped the “to serve Nigeria with all my strength” line, he returned to it and skipped “to defend her unity” again.
Janet Bisong from Delta State, while apologising for not being able to state the number of local government areas in her state, was interrupted by one of the panelists, Senator James Manager, who is from Delta, saying, “You know it; it’s 25.”
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, who led the nominees before the panel, after the exercise was postponed to Wednesday, however, said the reports of nominees not been able to recite the anthem and the pledge, which were already trending online, were not true.
But a senator in the panel, in a chat with journalists after the session, said Enang lied on the performance of the nominees.
“That was a lie. Everybody saw what happened. We were there; journalists were there; the cameras and the tapes were there. How can diplomats not know the anthem and the pledge of their country? If it were lawmakers now, he (Enang) would come for us,” he said.