senateYet to transmit list of confirmed ministerial nominees to presidency

Delay in formally communicating the Presidency on the list of ministerial nominees screened and confirmed by the Senate is set to affect the composition of the long awaited federal cabinet. Nigerian Pilot learnt that the 36 ministers-designate were pencilled for swearing in Tuesday or Wednesday this week but the inability of the senate to communicate President Muhammadu Buhari is a clog that is set to further prolong their inauguration.
This situation is further delaying the unveiling of President Buhari’s new cabinet, and his economic and political blueprints which pundits say have negatively hampered the general pace of development in the country.
As at the time of filing this report, Nigerian Pilot investigation reveals that the presidency was yet to receive the list, a pre-condition for allotting portfolios and onward swearing-in of the ministers-designate. The senate, it could be recalled, communicated the presidency on the first batch of screened nominees without delay.
The delay in communicating Buhari on the final list cleared has sparked off speculations on the social media where portfolios are rumoured to have been assigned to some ministers. However, sources from the presidency yesterday denied the development, describing them as mere speculation, maintaining that for the President to assign portfolios, he must have the full list of confirmed nominees.
There are concerns over the government’s inability to inaugurate the cabinet, six months after it was sworn in. President Buhari had submitted the list of the ministerial nominees in the fall of September after which the screening became a subject of intrigues, horse trading and controversy with ex-Rivers governor, Chibuke Rotimi Amaechi leading the pack. President Buhari had sent the list in two batches, with the Senate on Thursday last week voting to confirm the second batch of 18 ministerial nominees, including the former governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi. But that was without PDP senators who staged a walkout.
Amaechi’s screening was shifted three times and when he was eventually screened, the Senate put off his confirmation till last week.
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, members in the Senate however staged a walk out when it was apparent that they would be overwhelmed during the voting session, citing the case of corruption against Amaechi as reason for refraining from endorsing him.
Indication that Amaechi was not going to have it easy had emerged before the day’s plenary commenced when the PDP senators held an emergency meeting to take a stand on the former governor during the confirmation process.
The PDP Senators after the meeting went straight into the chamber with a resolve not to vote in favour of Amaechi, despite pleas from senators disposed to clearing him.Senate Deputy President, Ike Ekweremadu, Danjuma Goje and others joined in appealing to the PDP Senators to sheath their sword against Amaechi, although their pleas fell on deaf ears as the PDP senators stood their ground to heckle the process of Amaechi’s clearance.
The plenary had hardly resumed when Minority Leader, Godswill Obot Akpabio, who spearheaded the fight against Amaechi on behalf of PDP Senators, raised a point of order, citing order 43, while insisting that the report of a petition pending against Amaechi should be tabled and debated before he could be confirmed.
A counter motion moved by the Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume to seek express confirmation of Amaechi sparked some forms of protests from PDP members who said the report on petition against Amaechi should be tabled and debated before any other business of the Senate.
On that note, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, called the Chairman of Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition Committee, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, to present the report for debate.
Reading the Committee’s recommendation, Anyanwu said: “Following the discovery that the matter before the Senate is actually before a competent court of law, the Committee, accordingly recommends as follows:
“That since the ministerial nominee had gone to 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 (Amaechi’s) confirmation”.
A PDP member, Senator Thomson Sekibo had said what the Ethics and Privileges Committee recommended was that Amaechi’s clearance should be suspended since the matter on him is pending still before the court.
Sekibo said the allegation of corruption against Amaechi was weighty, bothering on mismanagement of the resources of Rivers State and sales of public property in his state during his tenure as governor.
Senator Omoworare, however, offered a leeway for the clearance of Amaechi when he told the Senate that the Committee of the Whole which they had constituted on the clearance of the ministerial nominees has the power to amend the report of any committee of the Senate.
He referred to section 41 Rule 7 of the Standing Rules of the Senate to state that the Senate is not liable to receive any petition on a matter pending before the Court.
Omoworare, however seconded a motion moved earlier by Ndume that Amaechi and others be cleared, and contended that the Senate, going by the rules should not have received the petition in the first instance on the basis that it was still in court.
Trouble started when the Deputy Minority Whip, Biodun Olujime (Ekiti) decried attempt by the APC to shut out the PDP from the process of clearance of the nominees, arguing that in any democracy, the minority should be allowed to have their say though the majority could have its way.
When Senator Akpabio rose to buttress the point made by Senator Olujimi, the Senate President did not recognise him, stating that another Senator, Barnabas Gemade, had earlier been recognised to speak.
Akpabio then mobilised all the PDP senators to stage a walk out as they were jeered at by APC senators who urged them to leave the plenary as quickly as possible.
Senator Gemade, who spoke next, affirmed that the Senate had allowed the Minority to have its way and that since members of the opposition had made comments on the report by the Ethics and Privileges Committee, the Majority should then have its way.
It was on that note that Gemade moved a motion urging the Senate to quash the report by the Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition Committee on petition against Amaechi, an efforts which enabled the Senate President to call for votes which ensured the clearance of Amaechi and other nominees.
Other nominees so cleared include Barrister Adebayo Shittu, Khadija Abba Ibrahim, Heineken Lokpobiri, Claudius Ololeye Daramola, Baba Sheuri Mustapha, Ocholi Enojo James, and Hon Bawa Bwari.
Others include Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, Zainab S Ahmed, Mansur Mohammed Dan Ali, Okechukwu Eyinna Enelamah, Professor Anwuka Anthony Gozie, Mohmammed Musa Bello, Adamu Adamu and Aisha Abubakar.
Some members of the PDP caucus during plenary had argued that the plan by the Senate to clear Amaechi at all costs will continue to constitute a moral burden on the Senate and the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.

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