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Ministerial Screening: How Amaechi Survived

Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi
Amaechi screening
Prior to Thursday, 22 October, the political atmosphere was tensed, intrigues, backstabbing, high wired politics were at play, making many become skeptical of the entire political system. It was like when the time comes, the building of the red chambers of the National Assembly would collapse; the Senate will not screen and clear him, especially against the backdrop of petitions against him on alleged fraud and this came from a group called, Integrity group based in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

After all the hullabaloo that surrounded his nomination as a ministerial nominee by President Muhammadu Buhari and his name submitted to the Senate through the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, his appearance before the Senator Samuel Anyanwu led Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, behold, the day finally came last Thursday, for the screening of former Speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly, immediate past governor of Rivers State and former Director- General, Presidential Campaign of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.

With his supporters, Amaechi stormed the National Assembly and was received into the red chamber of the Senate where he was finally screened as a ministerial nominee by the senators. The screening was however not devoid of legislative politricks and drama. The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and the All Progressives Congress, APC members in the senate, insisted on the screening of Amaechi despite the stiff opposition from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP senators.

Prior to Amaechi’s appearance and following tension in the Senate over whether or not he should be screened, Senators were forced into a closed door session. The senators dissolved into an executive session at 10.58am soon after the approval of the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, October 20, 2015 and this was announced by Senate President Saraki.

At the closed session, which lasted for 50 minutes to sort out “knotty issues” relating to the screening of Amaechi, Chairman of the Ethics Committee, Senator Samuel Anyanwu was said to have briefed his colleagues on the report and indicated that the Committee reported that the issue regarding Amaechi’s petition was in court and that the Senate should suspend action on his screening pending the resolution of the court issues.

According to a source, at the closed door meeting held before the screening, there was a gentleman’s agreement that was said to have been struck, just as the source disclosed that the Senators had agreed at the executive session that in order not to allow tempers to rise over the issue, the PDP Senators would stick to their gun of not having anything to do with Amaechi, while their APC colleagues also agreed that they would only ask the nominee to take a ‘bow and go.’

It was however gathered that the APC Senators pleaded with their colleagues in the PDP to allow Amaechi be screened while the debate of the report would be delayed till another day. It was also gathered that the PDP Senators agreed to the suspension of the debate on the report of the Ethics Committee only if their APC colleagues would also ask the Rivers nominee to take a bow so as not to “cause controversy.”

But at the chambers, PDP Senators were surprised when the APC started asking Amaechi questions during the open session. PDP Senators, who spoke at the end of the sitting felt betrayed by their APC colleagues, saying that the APC simply tricked them into a deal and later turned their back.

Earlier, in the order paper released for Thursday’s proceedings, Amaechi was the first on the list and followed by Senator Heineken Lokpobri (Bayelsa ); Omoleye Daramola (Ondo ); Adewole Folorunso (Osun); Baba Shehuri Mustapha (Borno); and Ocholi James (Kogi ). While Amaechi and others were screened by the Senators, Folorunso was not.

Preparatory to the screening of Amaechi, the Senate suspended consideration of the report of Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions on the petition against Amaechi. Rather than consider the report as stipulated in the order paper as introduced by Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, the senate president asked the senate leader to resume the screening of the nominees, which had Amaechi as the first on the list.

Senator Ali Ndume had 24 hours to the screening of Amaechi lampooned his colleagues from the PDP, his former party, saying that the 8th Senate belongs to the APC.

According to Ndume, the PDP should note that it has become a minority, a situation where the majority would always have its way, warning that PDP cannot disqualify Amaechi based on what he termed, triviality and whatever was done, must be based on constitutionality, adding that the former governor has not been convicted by any court of law.


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