Akintunde Ibitayo Akinwande, the chairman-designate of the National Electricity Regulatory Committee (NERC), has written to the senate committee on power, steel development and metallurgy to apologise for failing to show up for screening on Tuesday.
The professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US, in a letter dated October 26, 2016 and obtained by TheCable, said he had “ultimate respect for the institution and the processes of the Nigerian Senate”.
He explained that his failure to appear for screening was because “I am contractually constrained to seek formally the consent of the university for a leave of absence before presenting myself to the Senate for screening and if confirmed take on the assignment”.
Enyinnaya Abaribe, the chairman of senate committee, has expressed surprise that since the nomination of Akinwande was made about three months ago, the presidency ought to have checked Akinwande’s level of preparedness.
He suspended the screening exercise, saying it was impossible to screen other nominees in the absence of the chairman-designate.
Presidency said on Thursday that the professor had accepted the offer, dousing speculation that he had rejected the offer by also failing to appear before the Department of State Services (DSS) for screening.
TheCable later got hold of the letter he wrote to the senate through Ita Enang, special adviser to the president on national assembly matters.
FULL TEXT OF HIS LETTER
Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, Chairman,
Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy
National Assembly Complex
Three Arms Zone
PMB 141, Garki
i/c Senator Ita Enang
Office of the Special Adviser to the President
National Assembly Matters
National Assembly Complex
Re: Notice for Screening for NERC Nominees
Dear Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe,
I want to profusely apologize to your committee for not showing up for the screening process for the Nominees for the National Electricity Regulatory Committee (NERC) on Tuesday, October 25, 2017. I also want to state categorically that I have the ultimate respect for the institution and the processes of the Nigerian Senate. My not showing up for the screening does not in any way reflect my lack of respect for the institution of the Nigerian Senate.
I want to use this opportunity to make some statements about the event and news reports that are circulating in the last few days about the Senate screening process.
1. News reports in Nigeria that I have rejected President Buhari’s nomination to be Chairman of Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission have been brought to my attention.
2. I have the greatest respect for President Buhari. I am fully behind the change he has brought and is bringing to the way Government business is conducted in Nigeria.
3. I am deeply honored that Mr. President and his team thought me worthy for this important national assignment and sought me out for it.
4. I am a professor of electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As such I am contractually constrained to seek formally the consent of the university for a leave of absence before presenting myself to the Senate for screening and if confirmed take on the assignment.
5. I could not formally seek such consent, as I did not receive any formal information about my nomination nor detailsof the screening exercise. The consent has therefore not been given, hence the challenge in presenting myself for Senate confirmation. In order not to delay the constitution of this important Commission, may I encourage the Senate to proceed with the confirmation hearings of the other nominees whilst I look to initiate the consent procedures in the coming weeks. I, in the meantime, hope I shall receive formal letters of nomination as well as invitation to attend the Senate screening, both of which would be the basis for my request to MIT.
I look forward to working with you in the future.
Akintunde Ibitayo (Tayo) Akinwande
Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science