By Ikenna Asomba
Barely 48 hours to the resumption of plenary on ‘super’ Tuesday, October 13, when the Nigerian Senate will begin the screening of President Muhammadu Buhari’s 21 ministerial nominees, the tension raised on whether some nominees will scale through the screening hurdles, owing to the petitions against them and the Senate’s traditional rule which demands that at least two senators from nominee’s state of origin must endorse his nomination, may have been doused.
The Senate on Sunday, via its Twitter handle @ disclosed that the traditional rule where two Senators must endorse a ministerial nominee may be waived if a nominee passes other criteria of the screening hurdles.
It said: “The tradition of two Senators having to endorse a ministerial nominee is not sacrosanct and can be waived if a nominee passes other criteria.”
The Senate also urged Nigerians who have questions they would like Senators to ask during the screening on Tuesday, to send them on Twitter to the Senate handle, @NGRSenate using the hashtag #MinisterialScreening.
If this revelation by the upper legislative arm is anything to go by, nominees such as former Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi and Amina Mohammed, a former special assistant on Millennium Development Goals, who membership in Buhari’s ministerial list had been fraught with petitions from their respective states, including their Senators, may now heave sighs of relief.
For Amaechi, his membership on the Buhari list renewed his legendary cat and mouse relationship with his former Chief of Staff, Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike.
A PDP Senator from Rivers State, Senator George Sekibo (Rivers East) had last week said that the Senate Rules reduces Amaechi’s chances stressing that the petition by a group called Integrity Group, was is weighty on allegations of misappropriation of funds to the tune of N70 billion against the former governor.
In an interaction with journalists in Abuja, Sekibo disclosed that “now that the Senate has received the petition, I have laid it on the floor; it has been referred to public petition and I know the Committee will come out with appropriate recommendations”. However Amaechi has continued to carry on with less concern. The former Rivers Governor was sighted at Eko Hotels on Sunday in a social event tagged, Lord of the Ribs.
For Amina Mohammed, her petitioners, a Kaduna-based non-governmental organization, Centrum Initiative for Development and Fundamental Rights Initiative, including Senator Danuma La’ah, hinged their opposition on the fact that her state of birth, is Gombe and not Kaduna where she was said to have been nominated from.
Senator La’ah contended that since Amina hails from Gombe State, but married to a Kaduna husband, her appointment infringes on section 147 of the 1999 Constitution, which stipulates that a ministerial nominee must be an indigene of the state presenting him/her.
As the Senate Committee investigating the petitions against the nominees is expected to submit its report before the screening starts on Tuesday, political observers have kept their fingers crossed, on how this one would pass.