Saturday, 24 October 2015

Ministerial Screening: Fresh Plot To Stop Amaechi Thickens

Ministerial Screening

It was also gathered that the issue of Amaechi was discussed at a closed door meeting the Senate held before the screening began.

Senators elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) are fuming over fresh plot by their Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterparts to stop the Red Chamber from approving the nomination of former River State Governor, Mr. Chubuike Rotimi Amaechi, as minister.

The PDP Senators are understood to have returned to the drawing board to restrategise after Amaechi appeared before the Senate on Thursday for screening.

Amaechi responded to questions from only All Progressives Congress (APC) senators, following the decision of the PDP Senators to abstain from asking him questions because, according to the Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, “we have just received Senator Samuel Anyawu’s report on the petition on corruption against Amaechi.”

This sparked a war of words between Senate Leader Mohammed Ali Ndume and Akpabio.

Amaechi’s screening was delayed until Thursday on account of opposition by the PDP Senators.

Reports from their camp yesterday suggested that they are not prepared to back down from their opposition to Amaechi who defected from the PDP to the APC in 2014 and went on to play a key role in the defeat of the PDP in the last elections.

They are still bitter that Senate President Bukola Saraki ignored the consideration of the Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions report on alleged fraud against Amaechi and called him for screening.

The committee’s report, presented by Chairman of the panel minutes before Amaechi was ushered into the Senate chamber for screening, is said to have recommended that Amaechi be advised to go and clear himself since issues in the petition against him is in court.

It was also gathered that the issue of Amaechi was discussed at a closed door meeting the Senate held before the screening began.

The opposition Senators accused Saraki of breaching Senate rules by side tracking the report, and opted for Amaechi’s screening.

A reliable source in the Senate said: “It was the consensus that Amaechi should be advised to go and clear himself of allegations of fraud, according to the recommendation of the Ethics Committee.”

He added: “We believe that Amaechi should not have been screened in the first place.

“That he was screened does not give us a good image especially in the light of the fight against corruption.

“What impression have they created by screening him? What image have they given to the Senate? Are they saying that the petition has no merit?

“These are some of the issues.”

The South-South senator said that they met after plenary on Thursday to decide “our next line when the actual confirmation comes up next week.”

Their decision is to oppose Amaechi’s confirmation next week.

He noted that “Amaechi has only been screed in fragrant abuse of our rules but he has not been confirmed.

“We will still raise our voice to oppose his confirmation because his screening did not follow due process. The screening cannot past due diligence test.”

He said that “even if the Senate President does not mention the report whenever Amaechi’s confirmation comes up, we are going to raise the issue of the report and the consideration of the report because we have the right to be heard.”

But an APC senator close to the leadership of the Senate dismissed the PDP Senators’ move to frustrate Amaechi’s confirmation as a non-issue.

The North East lawmaker insisted that “when we get to the bridge we’ll cross it.

“We are not new to all these schemings and attempts to force back the hand of the clock.

“Do the PDP senators you are talking about have the number to block the confirmation of any nominee? Even if we go for division of the house, do they have the number to stop the confirmation of any nominee not just Amaechi?

“Politics remains a game of number and as at today, the APC has the ace in the Senate. Nobody can take that away from us. PDP senators or the party itself cannot stop the confirmation of any nominee because they remain the opposition in the chamber.”

He noted that the Senate could not have stopped the screening of Amaechi based on “mere allegation.”