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Thursday, 22 October 2015

Amaechi vs Senate: Ali Ndume Boasted That the Senators Will Determine the Fate of Amaechi

There are indications that some senators from the Peoples Democratic Party would try to stonewall the confirmation hearing as a minister for former Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi. The PDP Senators may even stage a walkout if they failed to have their way.

Amaechi is the last person remaining to be heard by the Senate among the first 21 nominees sent by President Muhammadu Buhari on 30 September.
His screening had suffered several shifts, principally because the report of the Senate ethics committee on petitions against him was not ready.
The report is now slated to be presented to the Senate plenary today, ahead of the invitation of Amaechi to face the whole Senate.
Political observers believe that though Amaechi would face hostile PDP senators, especially from his state of Rivers, his approval would boil down to a flexing of muscle between the PDP and the APC senators, who are in the majority.
Majority leader of the Senate, Ali Ndume has given the indication of where the pendulum would swing: The APC senators would back their own and give Amaechi the support he needs.
Ndume said the 8th Senate belongs to the All Progressives Congress, APC.
According to him, 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 described as triviality instead of the constitution. He added that Amaechi has not been convicted by any court of law.
Ali Ndume boasted that the Senators will determine the fate of Amaechi and not the report of Senator Samuel Anyanwu-led Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions.
He added that Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu would not have presided yesterday because APC ministerial nominees were being screened, which explained the adjournment.
Here is what Ndume told newsmen on Wednesday ‘’The Ethics and Privileges report is not the determinant of Amaechi’s fate. It is the Senate. Even if they write their report, it has to be laid before the Senate which will decide on the report. It is not the report that will decide the fate of Amaechi.
“Whatever the Committee recommends to the Senate, it is the Senate that will decide. And I have told Nigerians several times that this Senate belongs to APC. We have PDP senators that are in the minority. We are practising democracy in a changed environment. That is to allow the minorities to have their say. But you know that the majority will always have its way. We have 58 senators, the Senate President excluded, and they have 48 Senators.
“And Amaechi is an APC candidate and the constitution is very clear. Until there is conviction, you are considered innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt by a competent court of law. Unfortunately, you cannot confirm or disqualify Amaechi, we are the only ones that can do that. And PDP cannot disqualify Amaechi based on triviality. It must be based on constitutionality.”
“The Senate President has a pending case before the Appeal Court which judgement was suspended indefinitely. We, therefore, thought that the lower court will suspend today’s (yesterday’s) sitting as the Senate President has to be in court by 10.00am. He is the Presiding Officer and this is an extraordinary period because we are screening ministers who are predominantly APC. So, that was why we said this screening should continue with the Senate President presiding. So, we are continuing tomorrow (today) by God’s grace.”
“This is not a normal day because we are screening APC nominees and there are issues surrounding it. The Presiding Officer is the Senate President who started the screening and we said we would continue after taking a day off and continue tomorrow (today)”.
Speaking on the senators’ solidarity with the Senate President at the tribunal, Senator Ndume said: “It was not a solidarity as such. This Senate does not belong to Saraki, Senator Ali Ndume or anybody. The Senate is an institution, an independent arm of government and should be respected and strengthened. Besides, if the President takes his time to submit the (ministerial) list, which Nigerians patiently waited for why will Nigerians not be patient with the Senate to wait for its conclusion? And why don’t you take us on issues other than these trivialities? Suppose we had said we are suspending the screening till next week, we have the right to do that.
“But the constitution is guiding us that we have to do this within 21 working days. And we are still within the 21 working days. It is not 21 days, it is 21 working days. And our working days in the Senate plenary is three days in a week. So, if you are talking about 21 working days, it means that the Senate will do this within seven weeks because we sit for plenary Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. That is three working days. It means that logically, we can do this up to seven weeks.”

“The ministries have not been streamlined yet to know where they are going. I don’t even see an issue out of it. I was thinking that by now, we will be talking about ideas not about people and events. It won’t move this country forward. We are supposed to be talking about the screening details.

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