By Henry Umoru & Joseph Erunke
ABUJA — Senators belonging to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and their All Progressives Congress, APC, were, yesterday, preparing for a showdown over different positions on the confirmation of two of 16 remaining ministerial nominees.
It was, however, learnt that Senate President Bukola Saraki was determined to weigh in on behalf of the former governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi and the ministerial nominee from Cross River State, Usani Uguru. The duo had been caught up in a grudge war mounted by PDP senators.
Amaechi is held in contempt by the PDP Senate caucus for his role in the defeat of the former ruling party in the last round of elections. Uguru brought himself into the bad book of the PDP Senate caucus when, during his screening, he said “God forbid” to a question as to his membership of the PDP.
Following 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 resolved 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.
Last five nominees screened
Five nominees were screened, yesterday, bringing to an end, the exercise that commenced about three weeks ago.
The five nominees screened were former Vice-Chancellor of Imo State University, Professor Anthony Anwuka (Imo); financial expert and medical doctor, Okechukwu Enelamah (Abia); newspaper columnist, Adamu Adamu (Bauchi); former Executive Secretary of National Hajj Commission, Mohammed Musa Bello (Adamawa), and Aisha Abubakar (Sokoto).
However, the confirmation exercise which was expected to commence immediately after, did not, as Senate President Saraki announced the adjournment of the Senate to today.
PDP senators sulk, plan offensive
PDP senators are also said to have been further miffed by the reverses suffered by the party in Rivers State in the last one week, including 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-led Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions’ 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 also 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.
Only one of the nominees screened yesterday, Aisha Abubakar, daughter of former super permanent secretary and minister, Alhaji Abubakar Alhaji was waved through without a question. She was asked to take a bow and go upon submission by Senator Abiodun Olujimi.