Ex-Rivers governor writes Senate on enquiry
Will the Senate change its parliamentary tradition or ask ex-lawmakers who are ministerial nominees to take a bow?
That was the question at the weekend ahead of tomorrow’s screening of the nominees.
Senate President Bukola Saraki is under pressure to stick to the tradition, it was learnt.
But some senators from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are pushing for “an open and equal screening”.
It was gathered that the leadership of the Senate may take a decision before the screening opens.
Saraki is likely to present the issue before the Executive Session prior to the screening.
Eight of the 21 nominees are former lawmakers.
They are: Sen. Udoma Udo-Udoma; Sen. Aisha Alhassan; Sen. Chris Ngige; Sen. Hadi Sirika; Rt. Hon Rotimi Amaechi (a former Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly); Mr. Audu Ogbeh (a former Deputy Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly); Hon. Ahmed Musa Ibeto (a former member of the House of Representatives); and Adebayo Shittu (a former member of the Oyo State House of Assembly).
It was learnt that many senators supported “parliamentary tradition” for the automatic clearance of the eight former lawmakers.
Also yesterday, the Senate re-echoed the statement by its Adhoc Media Committee Chairman Dino Melaye on the need for two senators to endorse a nominee from their state.
This followed the apprehension that some of the ministerial nominees will not be able to scale the screening hurdle, following their apparent likelihood of not getting the endorsement of two senators from their states.
On its Twitter handle @NGRSenate yesterday, 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.”
A principal officer said: “The Senate President is under pressure to break the tie and provide direction for senators who are divided on some nominees, especially the former lawmakers.
“Saraki’s personal relationship with some of these former lawmakers has made the pressure on the Senate more challenging.
“But the main issue is whether or not to give parliamentary waiver to ex-lawmakers who have been nominated as ministers.
“Some senators are insisting on the adoption of the parliamentary tradition to screen and clear the eight ex-lawmakers. Normally by our tradition, the eight nominees are expected to take a bow after explaining their plans for the nation.
“These senators have warned against the consequences of changing the tradition by the 8th Senate because it could be anybody’s turn tomorrow.
“They said if the Senate played into the hands of some politicians and governors, it might affect the prospect of some lawmakers in the future.”
Responding to a question, the officer added: “These senators are saying that we should grill these ex-lawmakers on their vision for the country but they are making a strong case for automatic clearance.
“Some of them cited the row which the screening and clearance of ex-Minister Musiliu Obanikoro generated and how ex-Senate President David Mark stuck to the parliamentary tradition.”
Another Senator said: “We have received many petitions against some of these nominees, including some of these eight lawmakers. A few Senators are demanding the waiver of the parliamentary tradition to enable the Senate leave the screening open.
“These petitions have been referred to the relevant committee of the Senate for consideration.
“We are looking into these arguments which have put the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, under pressure.”
Amaechi is said to have written to the Senate to stay action on any issue emanating from the Commission of Inquiry set up by the government of Rivers State.
He said since a matter was pending in court on the inquiry, it would be subjudice for the Senate to dabble in it.
A source in the Senate said: “Amaechi’s counsel has written the President of the Senate on the need to avoid consideration of a subjudicial matter.
“You know the Senate has a procedure of not treating any matter before a court.”