The Senate has confirmed that former Rivers state governor, Rotimi Amaechi, will be screened among other ministerial nominees, as its plenary session resumes today.
This was disclosed by Senate leader, Mohammed Ali Ndume, during an interview with journalists at the National Assembly on Wednesday, October 21.
According to The Nation, Ndume confirmed that the opposition party does not have the power to stop the screening of Amaechi as a minister of the federal republic, in spite of the petitions written against him from different quarters.
The senator representing Borno state informed also that the Senate did not allow its deputy president, Ike Ekweremadu, to preside over the screening of ministerial nominees yesterday because he is of the opposition party.
On the reason for the adjournment of sitting, he said: “We were thinking that the lower court (CCT) would cancel the sitting but it did not.
“The Senate President had to be at the tribunal by 10.00am. He is the presiding officer. This is an extraordinary time because we are screening ministers that are predominantly of the All Progressives Congress (APC). So, that was why we said this screening should continue with the Senate President presiding.
“This is not a normal day because we are screening APC nominees of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“There are issues surrounding it. We don’t want any other issue out of it again. The presiding officer is the Senate President, who started the screening and we said we would take a day off and continue tomorrow (today).
“If you look at the constitution, it is not a ‘must’. It is just like when the president is off, the vice president does not automatically become the President of Nigeria. He remains the vice president until a letter is transmitted as such. That is what the constitution says.
“We have an issue at hand that the Senate President is handling and that is the screening of ministers.
“We said let us shift it by one day to enable the Senate President to attend the court session. Then, we will continue tomorrow (today).”
On whether Amaechi would be passed as a minister if after 21 working days, he is not screened by the senate, as stipulated by the constitution, Ndume explained: “But the constitution is guiding us that we have to do this within 21 working days. We are still within the 21 working days.
“It is not 21 days; it is 21 working days. Our working days in the Senate plenary are three days in a week.
“So, if you are talking about 21 working days, it means that the Senate will do this within seven weeks because we sit for plenary Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. That is three working days. It means that logically, we can do this up to seven weeks.
“But let me add that the Ethics and Privileges report is not the determinant in Amaechi’s matter. It is the Senate.
“Even if they write their report, it has to be laid before the Senate, which will decide on the report. It is not the report that will decide Amaechi’s fate.
“Whatever the committee recommends to the Senate, it is the Senate that will decide.
“I have told Nigerians several times that this Senate belongs to the APC. We have PDP senators that are in the minority. We are practising democracy in a changed environment.”
Amaechi is the only nominee who is yet to be screened among the nominees initially sent to the National Assembly as the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions was still dealing with the petitions against the former governor.
And tension is sky high as revelations emerged that there are plans to ensure that the former Speaker of the Rivers state house of assembly may not be approved as a minister.
Ndume has however, confirmed that the opposition party cannot stop Amaechi’s confirmation on trivialities alone unless they have constitutional reasons to do so.