Indications emerged at the weekend that the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki is ready to mend fences and pacify the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP senators with headships of some juicy committees of the upper legislative chamber likely to be announced this week. This is coming on the heels of sharp disagreements over the controversial confirmation of former Rivers State governor, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi as a minister.
It was gathered that similar scenario that played out in the House of Representatives where the majority party, All Progressives Congress, APC has a slim margin of 49 chairmanship of committees to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP’s 45, when they were unveiled by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, may happen in the senate to calm frayed nerves among the opposition senators.
A reliable source close to leadership of the senate told Nigerian Pilot yesterday in Abuja that Saraki has ordered the review of the committees’ list which he said was earlier scheduled to be announced last Wednesday, but postponed due to ministerial screening by the senate.
The source informed that, “the senate president wanted to pacify the PDP senators with chairmanship and vice chairmanship of some juicy committees as a result of what happened last week when they staged a walk out during the screening of Amaechi as minister.
“It’s not that the PDP senators opposed Amaechi’s confirmation as a minister, but what they were saying is that due process must be followed, particularly when the committee report on petition against his nomination has not been properly debated in accordance to the Senate’s standing rule.
“But I can tell you that the senators didn’t have anything against the senate president for allowing the APC senators to have their way over Amaechi’s confirmation. He is the President of the Senate and still enjoys the support of PDP senators”, the source explained.
Nigerian Pilot further learnt that some PDP senators, who were vice chairmen on the earlier list that would have been announced by Saraki last week, are now being promoted chairmen of such committees or newly created ones to accommodate them.
Saraki’s action may not be unconnected with the ruling of the Court of Appeal on his request for stoppage of his ongoing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT in Abuja, which was delivered in favour of the Tribunal.
There have been fears in the Saraki camp since last week over the opposition senators’ action that followed their non participation in the screening of former Rivers State governor when it was his turn penultimate week over similar reason that bothers on the petition against him.
Though the senators have reassured the senate president of their continued loyalty and support, some Nigerians like those in the Saraki camp have expressed fears that, “he may be exposed to the dangers of APC if the PDP withdraws its support for him.”
According to a public affairs commentator, Joel Haruna, “It is a known fact that Saraki is still the senate president today because of the support of PDP senators. If these people should decide to back out, then it is finished for Saraki, because the APC leaders and senators who have been after him since he was elected would be able to get him easily.
“So, he should act fast to woo the PDP senators back to his side, because he cannot rely much on the APC senators. Who will ever think that his case at the Court of Appeal will be thrown out like that after much efforts to satisfy those in his party, who don’t want him as senate president?” he added.
The PDP lawmakers had last Thursday staged a walkout from the plenary over their opposition to the confirmation of Amaechi as a minister due to allegations of fraud and other financial offences contained in a petition against him by a Port-Harcourt based Integrity Group and unresolved issues in the report of Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions.
Senate Minority Leader, Senator Goodwill Akpabio, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, said the senate president still has the support of the PDP senators despite the controversial confirmation of Amaechi by the APC senators.
Speaking in the same vein, Senators Gershom Bassey (PDP, Cross River South) and George Sekibo (PDP, Rivers East), said notwithstanding the ruling of the Appeal Court against Saraki on Friday, and Thursday’s disagreement over confirmation of ministers, their support for Saraki remains unshaken.
Senator Bassey in his own reaction said that not minding whatever disagreements that had taken place on the floor of the senate on Thursday over Amaechi’s confirmation, there was no rift between the senators of the PDP and those of the APC.
He said that the Senate may disagree on issues but such disagreements were healthy for legislation, adding that the PDP senators were still confident in Saraki in spite of all the perceived issues.
“There is still the presumption of innocence and that also covers the Senate President. We have had two votes of confidence on him and they stand. He has the confidence of the senate and there is absolutely no problem.
“In spite of the disagreement between the APC and PDP senators, nothing has changed. In democracy people must have different points of view and we must express those points of view”, he stressed.
George Sekibo in his own reaction, said that the PDP has no regret whatsoever on the action taken on Thursday and has no ill feeling over it against the Senate President who toed the line of the APC senators at that material time.
Sekibo, who presented the petition against Amaechi said that the PDP senators have told the public their stance and it was now left for Nigerians to know what to do.
On the ruling of the Court of Appeal against the senate president on his ongoing trial at CCT, he said the development will not in any way water down the support of PDP senators for the senate leadership under Saraki.
It would be recalled that the two separate votes of confidence passed on the leadership of the 8th Senate under the embattled senate president, Bukola Saraki, were driven by the PDP senators who had signatures of 48 of them, excluding the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu on the list of 84 and 86 senators respectively.

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