Facts emerged yesterday why the two members of the National Assembly earlier billed to travel with President Muhammadu Buhari to N’Djamena, Chad for the inauguration of President Idriss Deby on Monday, Senator Baba Kaka Garbai and Hon. Mohammed Monguno, were dropped from the trip.
The Presidency had announced through its spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, on Sunday, August 7, that President Buhari would be accompanied on the Chadian trip by Governors Kashim Shettima (Borno) and Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano); Senator Garbai, Hon. Monguno, Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama and the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd).
While others made the trip, the two National Assembly members from Borno State were dropped with no explanation given. But sources at the Presidency told New Telegraph yesterday that the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, “single handedly dropped” the lawmakers even though they were separately nominated by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara in different communication with the Presidency.
Under an unwritten practice, whenever the President desires to have National Assembly members to be part of his delegation for any trip, he requests for nominations from the Senate President and the Speaker with information on the nature of the trip and the number of slots allotted to the two chambers of the National Assembly.
The source further said: “The Senate President had nominated Senator Baba Kaka Garbai from Borno State because Borno shares border with Chad while the Chadian government is deeply involved in the Multi-national Joint Taskforce fighting the Boko Haram insurgency.
This is in addition to the fact that the people of Borno State and Chadians inter marry and have long been engaged in socio-economic, cultural and political integration for centuries.
“This is why the Speaker of the House of Representatives, without knowing the Senate President’s nominee, also nominated a member from Borno State, Mohammed Monguno to be part of the presidential delegation and the aim is to strengthen their existing relationship.
The source added that Kyari replaced the lawmakers with Senator Monsurat Sunmonu from Oyo State, who is the chairperson, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and the House of Representatives Committee Chairperson on Foreign Affairs, Hon. Nnenna Ukeje from Abia State. A source at the National Assembly also said the Senate President and House of Representatives Speaker and the affected lawmakers “felt slighted” by the change without recourse to them.
“They felt disrespected by the Presidency,” he said. He added that while it is not out of place for chairpersons of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs to accompany the President on a foreign trip, the fact that President Buhari himself invited the Governor of Borno State as well as his National Security Adviser “indicated that he had the relationship between Nigeria and Chad in the fight against Boko Haram in mind and the need to strengthen such a relationship.”