By Ifeanyi Nwoko
Prof. Akintunde Akinwande, President Muhammadu Buhari’s nominee as Chairman of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) never rejected his appointment.
News reports that he did so got it all wrong, Akinwande said in a statement sent to the Presidency, dated 26 October.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Sen. Ita Enang, the Presidency said that Akinwande had in fact accepted his nomination.
Enang however said that the delay being experienced in appearing before the relevant committee of the senate for screening was due to the fact that he had not tidied up some paper work in his current job in the U.S.
“My attention has been drawn to some media reports falsely claiming that Mr. President’s Nominee for the Chairmanship of Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, Prof. Akinwande has declined the nomination.
“May we please state that the nominee informed our office that he is a term employee of a university and he has to follow laid down procedure of the institution to obtain appropriate excuse or leave to enable him attend the screening.
“That the said nominee is in contact with the office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate).
“He has indicated his availability for the screening and interest in the offer, upon being communicated a date to appear.
“The respected Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy was duly informed by me of the unavoidable absence of the Nominee.
“There was no statement or implication of rejection by the nominee,” Enang said.
He added that the the Presidency Liaison Office in the National Assembly was looking for a suitable date for Prof. Akinwande to appear for screening.
Akinwande is at present a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in Boston, United States.<
In a letter, dated 26 October, 2016, to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy, Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe, sent through the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Sen. Ita Enang, Prof. Akinwande said he did not turn down the offer by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science explained that:
‘‘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.
‘‘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.
‘‘I am deeply honoured that Mr. President and his team thought me worthy for this important national assignment and sought me out for it.
‘‘I am a tenured 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.’’
Prof. Akinwande apologized to the Senate Committee for not showing up for the screening process scheduled for Tuesday, October 25, 2017, noting that it was not out of disrespect for the institution.
The academic said he would be available for the screening after clearance from the MIT.