The Nigerian Senate has concluded the screening of ministerial nominees sent to it by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Screening of nominees entered a second day this week on Wednesday, with the Senate quizzing five of the persons in the list of 38 ministerial nominees.
The ministerial nominees screened were Okechukwu Enelamah (Abia), Anwuka Anthony (Imo), Mohammed Musa Bello (Adamawa), Adamu Adamu (Bauchi) and Aisha Abubakar (Sokoto).
One nominee, Aisha Abubakar, who had a petition against her, was asked to take a bow.
All the nominees have been screened but only 18 of them have been confirmed by the Senate.
The remaining 18 are also expected to be confirmed at plenary on Thursday, as indicated by the Senate President, Bukula Saraki, after the screening on Wednesday.
The Senate adjourned sitting to Thursday.
Senators belonging to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and their All Progressives Congress, APC, were, yesterday, preparing for a showdown over opposite positions on the confirmation of two of 16 remaining ministerial nominees.
It is expected that Senate President Bukola Saraki will weigh in on behalf of the former governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi and the ministerial nominee from Cross River State, Usani Uguru. The two of them had been caught up in controversy with PDP senators
Amaechi is not popular with the PDP Senate caucus for his role in the defeat of the former ruling party in the last round of elections. Uguru sort of shot himself in the foot when, during his screening, he said “God forbid” to a question about his membership of the PDP.
After the end of the screening of the nominees yesterday, the PDP Senate caucus held a meeting where they reportedly took a position against the confirmation of Amaechi. The senators were said to have sworn not to consider Amaechi’s nomination unless the report of the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges on the petitions filed against the former Rivers State governor was brought forward for consideration first.
PDP senators plan offensive
In addition to that, PDP senators are said to have been annoyed by the court losses suffered by the party in Rivers State in the last one week. These include the cancellation of Governor Nyesom Wike’s election and that of PDP state legislators, and Tuesday’s Supreme Court’s rejection of Wike’s bid to negate the sitting of the Governorship Election Tribunals in Abuja.
Although they refused to address the media after their meeting which lasted for just thirty minutes, some members, who spoke to Vanguard on the condition of anonymity said the meeting resolved that before the confirmation, the Samuel Anyanwu Committee report, must be considered.
One of the sources also said the PDP senators, in the meeting, resolved not to allow Pastor Usani Uguru to be confirmed today. He described Uguru as a light-hearted man who cannot be entrusted with any sensitive public office like the one he was nominated for.
Also, at the meeting, the PDP senators, according to one of them, vowed to withdraw their support for the Senate President should he force Amaechi’s confirmation. Vanguard gathered that another meeting of the PDP caucus would be held before the confirmation.
APC senators plan counter-action
APC senators have equally scheduled a caucus meeting this morning before commencement of plenary where they are expecting to fine-tune their strategies to push through all the nominees. The confirmation process is expected to hold today if enough APC senators are present in the chambers to outplay the PDP senators.
In that event, the Senate would first go into a closed-door session during which senators would raise issues about the nominees. Following the closed-door session the senators would resort back to plenary where a voice vote would be taken on each of the nominees.
The ruling of the Senate President would be final and can only be challenged when a senator calls for a division and it is at this point that PDP senators may challenge whatever decision Senator Saraki takes on Amaechi and Uguru.
In parliamentary procedure, a division of the assembly, division of the house, or simply division is a method for taking a precise count of a vote: members express their opinion on a motion simultaneously and the numbers for and against are counted. It is opposed to a voice vote, which is by estimation. Typically, a division is taken when the result of a voice vote is challenged by a quota of members.