The Senate has hinted that President Muhammadu Buhari’s ministerial nominees at the risk of not being able to rally required support from their home states, may still scale its screening and be confirmed ministers.
The senate spokesperson, Dino Melaye, told PREMIUM TIMES that a senate rule requiring nominees to secure the support of at least two senators from the states is “not sacrosanct”.
He said it was only part of a set of rules, but cautioned that any decision to change it would be taken on the floor of the Senate.
“It is not the only modalities,” Mr. Melaye said when asked about the issue of support from at least two senators. “There are other issues. It is not only that two Senators must support a nominee from his state that will be used. And it is not sacrosanct.”
He assured that, “If one passes other modalities but failed in one, he or she can still be cleared…but that has to be determined on the floor of the Senate”.
President Muhammadu Buhari has nominated 21 persons to become ministers. The nominees, however, have to be screened and cleared by the Nigerian Senate.
Ahead of the commencement of the ministerial screening by the Senate on Tuesday, the fate of some nominees such as a former Rivers Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, hangs in balance as they face opposition from some Senators from the states.
On Wednesday, three Peoples Democratic Party Senators from Rivers, George Sekibo (Rivers East), Osinachukwu Ideozu (Rivers West) and Olaka Nwogu (Rivers South East) opposed Mr. Amaechi’s nomination with a petition laid before the Senate by Mr. Sekibo.
PREMIUM TIMES understands Mr. Amaechi is leaving no stone unturned to get clearance.
On Wednesday, he was at the Maitama residence of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to seek support, a source privy to the meeting said.
Another source close to Mr. Saraki told this newspaper that the senate president “is helping him (Amaechi) to reach out to the Rivers senators”.
“But it is not about what the SP can do alone; he has to reach compromise with his people (Rivers senators),” the source said.
He said the Rivers Senators have made their demand for a compromise.
“What they want from him is withdrawal of the case in court against Wike (the Rivers APC petition against the election of Governor Nyesom Wike),” the source said.
Former Lagos Governor, Babatunde Fashola, and the Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary General, Amina Mohammed, are other nominees threatened by Senate’s rule on home support.
Mr. Fashola does not appear to have the support of Lagos State All Progressives Congress and his former boss, Bola Tinubu, to become minister.
He may therefore face opposition from Lagos State Senators who are loyal to Mr. Tinubu.
Ms. Amina has been nominted from Kaduna State where she’s married. But Senators from the state are said to be opposing his nomination, protesting she is not an indigene of the state.
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted Shehu Sani who represents Kaduna Central on the subject, he merely said “I’ll call back”.
He did not return the call at the time of filing this report.