Forced Amaechi’s confirmation as minister
PDP Senators stage walkout
At the end of yesterday’s confirmation of ministerial nominees earlier screened by the Senate with the President, Olubukola Saraki presiding, it dawned on lawmakers of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP they had been taken on a ride by the former and dumped when it mattered most to their aggregate democratic image.
In his many battles during his short stay as Senate President so far, Saraki had managed to stabilise in office and garner all the courage he needed in the face of opposition to his emergence as chairman of the 8th National Assembly last June 9.
The All Progressives Congress, APC Senator was elected unopposed with 57 lawmakers present voting for Saraki, while 51 were absent. Of note was the fact that his emergence had the solid, total and complete imprimatur of the opposition PDP senators. The development which irked his party that had positioned Ahmed Lawan as Senate President attracted problems for Saraki.
Thus, when on September 22, he was to appear at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT on an alleged fraudulent declaration of his assets way back when he was Kwara state governor, it was clear his party was out to frustrate him out of office. But his solace had always been in the PDP colleagues who rallied support for him.
Also on October 22, 2015 when he re-appeared at the CCT, no fewer than 81 senators made up of the largely PDP membership of the Upper Legislative House trooped to the trial with their embattled leader.
While all the drama lasted, many observers concluded that the suddenness of Saraki’s trial at CCT was designed by the leadership of the ruling party to compel him to toe its position, vacate office for Lawan even as PDP’s Ekweremadu who is the current Deputy Senate President should return to his minority fold in the legislature.
The development at the Senate yesterday which saw Saraki dumping the wish of his PDP support base to set aside their known rules to clear former Rivers state governor, Rotimi Amaechi against the recommendations of its Ethics Committee which advised that the matter be kept in view, many lawmakers concluded last night, was a clear indication that the Senate President has left the PDP senators mid stream.
The confirmation exercise had the trapping of a chess game with a charged atmosphere a result of disagreement between All Progressives Congress, APC and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP senators on the confirmation of the Rivers State nominee, Rotimi Amaechi which had forced the senators to resort to over an hour closed door executive session.
Despite efforts to resolve the issue, the PDP senators, led by the Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, staged a walkout when Amaechi was to be eventually confirmed as the APC senators snubbed the recommendations of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions.
The committee had in its report on an investigation of a petition written against Amaechi’s ministerial nomination by Livingstone Wechie on behalf of other petitioners from Rivers State, recommended that the Senate should not confirm his nomination on the grounds of his litigation in court and that of the petitioners over issues raised in the petition.
The committee recommended thus: “That since the ministerial nominee had gone to the Court of Appeal , to challenge the content of the petition and the white paper of the judicial commission of inquiry, the Senate is unable to recommend the consideration of his confirmation.
“That the senate do consider and adopt the recommendation as proposed by the committee”.
But the Senate through a motion moved by the Senate Leader, Mohammed Ali Ndume ( APC Borno South), moved in the direction of killing the report without any debate which ignited uproar from the PDP senators.
Ndume who predicated his motion on one of the findings/ observations made in the report, said since all allegations levelled against Amaechi are before a
competent court of jurisdiction, the senate should in line with its own rule ( Order 41(7) , ignore the report but confirm Amaechi as Minister like the 17 others earlier confirmed.
Through a motion the minority leader, Godswill Akpabio, refused to second when called upon by the Senate President to do so.