lProtest over exclusion of FCT
lAmaechi’s screening divides Senate
lI would have made Akpabio sweat if… — Abaribe
lDickson backs Sylva
By Henry Umoru & Samuel Oyadongha
ABUJA—ON a day the Senate made a U-turn on its vow to ensure thorough screening of all ministerial nominees, including former senators, there was an uproar in the upper chamber over the exclusion of an indigene of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja in President Muhammadu Buhari’s 43-man list.senate
Senate and the politics of Abbo’s inquisition(Opens in a new browser tab)
There is at least a nominee from each of the 36 states of the country with seven states having two nominees each. Curiously, there is none from FCT, which is accorded the status of a state.
Senate contradicts self on bow and go
The Senate contradicted itself when it made a U-turn from its Tuesday position that there will be no take a bow and go for former senators and a member of House of Representatives.
Those who enjoyed the privilege were former Senate Minority Leaders, Senators George Akume, Benue State and Godswill Akpabio, Akwa Ibom State;former Deputy Minority Whip, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, and a serving House of Representatives member on the platform of Accord Party, Emeka Nwajuaba, from Imo State.
Senator Orker-Jev Emmanuel (PDP, Benue North West), who defeated Akume at the polls, called on the Senate to maintain the tradition of allowing senators nominated for ministerial positions to take a bow without being asked questions and said they agreed in Benue caucus that Akume be allowed to take a bow.
Same was done for Akpabio by Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia South) when the President of the Senate asked him to speak before Akpabio took a bow.
I would have made Akpabio sweat if… — Abaribe
Abaribe, who noted that he was prepared to subscribe to the tradition because the problem was between his heart and his head, said but for the culture, he would have made Akpabio sweat.
When Senator Bassey Albert Akpan (PDP, Akwa Ibom North East) tried to speak after Abaribe that there was the need for someone from Akwa Ibom to speak on the nomination, President of the Senate ruled him out of order.
The Senate in a voice vote put across by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, resolved to allow the nominees go without a question.
Lawan in his remarks said the nation would be better when the executive and the legislature work together in the interest of the people.
He urged the nominees to lead the vanguard that would result in the delivery of democratic dividends when they become ministers.
Throughout the period for take a bow, Lawan only allowed Abaribe and the Senate Majority Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, to speak.
The 10 nominees screened were Uchechukwu Ogah, Abia State; Godswill Akpabio, Akwa Ibom State; George Akume, Benue State; Rotimi Amaechi, Rivers State; Ogbonnaya Onu, Ebonyi State; Olorunnibe Mamora, Lagos State; Emeka Nwajuaba, Imo State; Olamilekan Adegbite, Ogun; Adamu Adamu, Bauchi and Sharon Ikeazor, Anambra State.
Those to be screened today
Lawan at the end of yesterday ‘s exercise, announced that eight nominees will be screened today.
They are Senator Tayo Alasoadura, Ondo State; Mustapha Baba Shehuri, Borno State; Maj.General Bashir Salihi Magashi, retd, Kano State; Timipre Sylva, Bayelsa State; Remadu Tijani, Kogi State; Adeniyi Adebayo, Ekiti State; Mohammed Abdullahi, Nasarawa State and Sunday Dare, Oyo State.
Amaechi’s screening divides Senate
Meanwhile, the screening exercise, which was peaceful when it commenced at 11am, suddenly turned sour when the former Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, entered to take his turn.
Trouble started when Lawan reminded senators of the convention and policy of granting automatic confirmation to nominees, who had been elected as legislators in the past.
Lawan who was quick to help Amaechi get a soft landing, said: “We have agreed on a policy on how we go about the screening, I just want to reiterate that policy and to say that we will extend the privilege to members of the legislature even at state level.”
Following Lawan’s statement, the hallowed chamber became charged with shouts of disapproval from senators each time Lawan tried to explain the issues.
At this point, former Gombe State governor, and Chairman, Committee on Appropriations in the 8th Senate, Senator Danjuma Goje (APC, Gombe Central) reminded the Senate that the rule never recognised those who had served in state Houses of Assembly as part of people to be given automatic confirmation.
But in a swift response to Goje’ s point of order, Lawan said there was nothing wrong in granting automatic confirmation to former state lawmakers even if the Senate Rule did not allow it.
Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, asked Lawan to permit the senators from Rivers State to ask Amaechi some questions.
For the second time, Lawan rejected Abaribe’s request as he insisted that the policy and convention of granting automatic confirmation to nominees with legislative background at the state level was valid.
There were more shouts of disapproval from the senators when the President of the Senate tried to persuade them to allow Amaechi to bow and go.
Abaribe who later informed that all the Senators from the Minority caucus including those from Rivers State had asked him to convey some messages to Amaechi, said among the items contained in the messages from Rivers Senators to Amaechi is the issue of the controversial neglect of the Eastern axis.
Non-inclusion of FCT
Trouble started when the Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi (APC, Kebbi North) was about to read out the names slated in the Order Paper for screening. The Minority Whip, Senator Philip Tanimu Aduda (PDP, FCT) raised a point of order, complaining about the failure of the president to include an indigene of the FCT on the list.
He was supported by Senator Dino Melaye (PDP, Kogi West), who canvassed that President Buhari should urgently do the needful by appointing a minister from among the indigenous people of Abuja.
Aduda, who came under Order 43 of the Senate Standing Orders as Amended, decried the marginalisation of his constituents by the Federal Government, and appealed to the Senate to prevail on the executive to consider a ministerial nominee from the FCT. He said members of his constituency were surprised and alarmed that there was no nominee representing FCT on the list submitted by President Buhari.
Passage of PIB’ll stimulate investment— Ogah
Meanwhile, a ministerial nominee, representing Abia State, Uchechukwu Ogah, yesterday, said if the controversial Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, was passed into law by the National Assembly, it would help stimulate investment in the country.
Speaking in Abuja when he appeared for screening, Ogah said a good investment environment must be created, even as he urged the National Assembly to put in place, laws that would help protect investment.
The Abia State nominee, who was grilled for one hour between 11.22 am and 12.23 pm, was asked 20 questions covering economy, investments, unemployment, downstream and upstream sectors of the oil industry, and youths among others.
The nominee, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Masters Energy, a player in the downstream sector, expressed hope that PIB would stimulate investment in the industry. “Once the Petroleum Industry Bill is passed, it will help the economy in ensuring that investors will come into the country, and once they have guaranteed crude oil.
Nnamani, APC leaders hail Onyeama’s nomination as minister
Former Senate President, Chief Ken Nnamani, and other leaders of APC in Enugu State, yesterday, applauded the nomination of former Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, for ministerial re-appointment by President Buhari, describing it as one of the most appropriate decisions.
Some of the leaders include Nigeria’s Ambassador to India, Major General Chris Eze, retd; former Secretary to Enugu State Government, Chief Onyemuche Nnamani; Director General of the Voice of Nigeria, Osita Okechukwu; former governorship aspirant of the party, Mr. George Ogara; Mr. Ben Eche and Princess Ada Ogbu.
The former Senate President said the nomination of the former minister for reappointment had shown the level of confidence the president has in him to deliver again after a successful first term.
Dickson urges Bayelsa senators to support Sylva’s confirmation
Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State has directed Bayelsa senators to support the confirmation of former Governor, Chief Timipre Sylva, as a minister.
Dickson also congratulated Sylva, his major political opponent in the past 10 years, on his selection as a ministerial nominee in a statement issued yesterday by his Special Adviser, Media Relations, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei.
He said he had to call on the senators to support Sylvia’s nomination as minister in the interest of Bayelsa as the governor of all citizens of the state irrespective of political differences.
Dickson recalled that he congratulated former Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Heineken Lokpibiri, and canvassed similar support for him when his name was forwarded to the Senate in President Buhari’s first tenure.
He said by Sylvia’s nomination, President Buhari displayed appreciation of loyalty, a virtue which he considers critical in political leadership.