Amaechi’s case stalls ministerial screening
The Senate yesterday suspended the confirmation hearing of 18 ministerial nominees till Tuesday for undisclosed reasons.
The upper chamber confirmed 18 nominees on Wednesday and announced that it would screen the remaining 18 yesterday.
But as senators reconvened in the morning, it was discovered that the hearing was not listed on the day’s order paper.
Rather, senators preoccupied themselves with other legislative activities during plenary.
However, it was exclusively gathered that the postponement had a lot to do with the case of former governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi.
The Senate had stood down the hearing on Amaechi and Barrister Adebayo Shittu, a nominee from Oyo State to yesterday.
A senator told our
correspondent that it was Amaechi’s case that forced the shift in date.
“We suspended the hearing to avoid embarrassment because it would sound absurd to further postpone screening Amaechi because his case had gained national attention,” a high ranking senator said.
He added that the Senate therefore decided to defer the whole exercise till Tuesday.
Another senator said it was not true that Amaechi’s case was stood down because the report of the committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public petitions was not ready.
“It would not take the members of the committee 10 minutes to put together their report on Amaechi; because how long did it take them to write their report on Amina Ibrahim Mohammed,? “At stake is the stiff opposition against Amaechi and the need to reach out to the opposition,” he said.
When contacted, the Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, said Amaechi would be screened Tuesday.
“He will be screened and confirmed because he possesses the qualification to be a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“As you may be aware, he has not been convicted of any crime,” he said.
Speaking to our correspondent, one of the ministerial nominees said they were told of the postponement on Wednesday and advised not to come until Tuesday.
“We were told not to come for the screening today (yesterday), that it has been postponed to next Tuesday”, he said in a phone interview.
When contacted, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, said he would address the press on the matter today.
Also speaking, the spokesperson of the Senate, Dino Melaye, said the confirmation hearing has been adjourned to Tuesday.
“The confirmation hearing has been shifted to Tuesday next week. We are going to screen nine of them on Tuesday and the remaining nine would be taken on Wednesday.
“The confirmation of all the nominees would be taken on Wednesday”, he said.
Also yesterday, Senate President Bukola Saraki formally communicated to President Buhari the confirmation of 18 nominees.
The letter was sent through Senator Ita Enang, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Legislative Matters (Senate).
Meanwhile, Senator Ibrahim Gobir, (APC Sokoto East) yesterday laid a petition against Ms. Aisha Abubakar, a nominee from Sokoto state.
Gobir said Aisha should be replaced with a more competent person.
Saraki referred the petition to the Ethics, Privileges and Public petitions committee for necessary action.
Speaking after the sitting, Gobir said women in Sokoto are against Aisha’s nomination.
“The whole women in Sokoto are against her and they are calling for her replacement, “he said.
It was gathered that Aisha hailed from Tambuwal Local Government Area of Sokoto, same as the state governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.
From left: Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Ibok Ibas, and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, at an exhibition stand, during the 2015 Nigerian Navy Research and Development Seminar, in Abuja yesterday.