For better Senate confirmation hearings

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One important fallout of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, debacle in the Senate is to focus attention on the hearing process. Our Senate has a constitutional role in the confirmation of appointments of persons into sensitive positions. This covers positions in the executive, from ministers to heads of some MDAs, through the judiciary.

The record so far is that the Senate has not handled it to the satisfaction of the citizens. Professionals in human capital management would frown seriously on what the Senate does. The confirmation hearings are usually one-day events. From the various televised events, there is not much evidence of prior work on the candidates.

It is worse in the case of ministers-designate where a conspiracy of mediocrity and unseriousness reigns. The executive sends a blanket list of persons without indicating their portfolios. The Senate then depends on media leaks or town talk to guess the intended portfolio for each candidate. There is no time for serious research into the backgrounds of the candidates and their suitability for their portfolios.

Once the stage has been set, the Senate in a number of cases then turns it into a farce. They ask former senators and friends of the Senate to “take a bow.” What a laugh. Others they ask a range of questions, from the serious to the ludicrous.

Confirmation hearings are very important events. They should be and are so regarded in other jurisdictions. They should involve a 360-degree evaluation of the candidates. The Senate sits as a Body of examiners in the best HR tradition and evaluates persons along the HR dictum that “past performance is a predictor of future potential.”

The Senate should now do away with the one-day confirmation hearings. It is a serious matter for persons who would occupy positions of strategic importance to the polity. They should have a minimum two-week process. Within that period, they would gather all the information necessary for a rounded evaluation of the candidates. This would include past records, petitions against their candidacy, their views on issues in the federation and on the jobs, including even asking for a vision document from the candidate. Managements everywhere do rounded evaluation even for first-level officers, let alone these super strategic-level appointments.

If such a process were in place, Magu would have had the opportunity to respond to the DSS allegations before the Senate. He would probably have also prepared better for the verbal defence which all agree he fumbled woefully. Time for a reset.

Chido Nwakanma

Ikeja, Lagos

Source: punchng.com =>For better Senate confirmation hearings

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