By: Joy Odor/Abuja
There was an uproar on the floor of the Senate has during the screening of a former Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi as a ministerial nominee.
The screening of nominees forwarded to the upper legislative chamber by President Muhammadu Buhari had continued peacefully until it was the turn of Amaechi when an uneasy calm enveloped the chamber.
President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan had to step in to douse the tension generated by the uproar.
Earlier, Lawan reminded his colleagues about the convention and policy of granting automatic confirmation to nominees who had been elected into the national or state assembly in the past.
He said: “We have agreed on a policy on how we go about the screening, I just want to reiterate that policy and to say that we will extend the privilege to members of the legislature even at states level”.
Occasional shouts of disapproval were heard from senators each time Lawan tried to explain the issues.
Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, who was recognized to speak on behalf of the minority parties, asked Lawan to permit the senators from Rivers State to ask Amaechi some questions.
But the Senate President rejected Abaribe’s request as he insisted that the policy and convention of “take a bow and go” to nominees with legislative backgrounds is valid.
Also, former Gombe State Governor, Senator Danjuma Goje, disclosed that the rule never recognized those who had served in State Houses of Assembly as part of people to be given automatic confirmation.
In a swift response to Goje’s point of order, Lawan said there is nothing wrong in granting automatic confirmation to former state lawmakers even if the Senate Rule did not allow it.
As the Senate President tried to persuade Senators to allow Amaechi bow and go without going through the rigour of screening, more lawmakers shouted “No! No!! No!!!.
When asked to continue with his remarks, Abaribe informed the Senate President that all the Senators from the Minority Caucus including those from Rivers State had asked him to convey some messages to Amaechi.
According to him, among the items contained in the messages from Rivers Senators to Amaechi is the issue of the controversial neglect of the Eastern axis.
Abaribe also made it clear that the Nigerians are not happy that while some parts of the country was suffering from infrastructural decay, the Federal government is extending projects like railway line construction to foreign countries.
He said: “I want to make a comment on my good friend who is another donation from the PDP having been 8 years speaker of Rivers House of Assembly under PDP, 8 years Governor of PDP and chairman of Governors Forum of PDP. So now that we know that he has his DNA in PDP.
“I only want to state that I have spoken to the Rivers State Caucus and they have asked me to pass this message to you, that they expect that you will be minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which Rivers State is part of which also means that whatever you can do as minister of federal Republic of Nigeria in making sure that peace is sustained and maintained in Rivers State, that you should please do.
“Let us also expect from you that the Nigeria railway would be done within Nigeria before extending to other countries.”