REPORT | Ekweremadu Under Pressure to Confirm Amaechi in Saraki’s Absence
Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu is under intense pressure to facilitate the ministerial confirmation of embattled ministerial nominee and former Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi as Senate President Bukola Saraki is scheduled to make a second appearance at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on Wednesday, SIGNAL can report.
A top National Assembly source who did not want to be named disclosed to SIGNAL on Tuesday a high-wire political plot engineered to ensure Ekweremadu creates an easy passage for Amaechi when his case comes up on the floor of the Senate Wednesday while Saraki is away on trial at the CCT. Ekweremadu as Deputy Senate President is required by law to stand in for the Senate President in his absence.
Senate spokesperson, Senator Dino Melaye on Tuesday in an interview with Africa Independent Television (AIT) confirmed that the Senate will sit on Wednesday to consider the report of Senate’s Ethics and Privileges Committee on the petitions against Amaechi, after which the Senate will take a decision on his ministerial nomination either by adoption of the committee’s report or amendment of same. Melaye also revealed that a meeting of the APC Senate caucus has resolved to ensure Amaechi gets a hitch-free clearance, considering his “contributions to change.”
“Senators loyal to APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and mobilized financially by Rotimi Amaechi are behind the plot to compel Ekweremadu to give an easy pass to Amaechi on Wednesday in Saraki’s absence”, an informed source on the Amaechi nomination saga told SIGNAL on Tuesday on condition of anonymity.
Masterminds of the plot, the source said were concerned about the unpredictability of Saraki’s next move regarding his loyalty to the APC and a possibility of denying Amaechi’s nomination – a development that could spark a final crack in the wall of APC’s attempts to keep a crisis-prone party together.
Amaechi was Director-General of the APC presidential campaign organization and played a visibly important role in the campaign that led to the election of Muhammadu Buhari as President. His ministerial nomination is seen largely as a compensation for this role especially as allegations of graft during his time as Rivers State governor continue to mount.
Malte Liewerscheidt, senior Africa analyst at political consultants Verisk Maplecroft, told AFP the claims against Amaechi could dent Buhari’s image as a “Mr Clean”.
“Buhari’s open support of Amaechi, who is enveloped in corruption allegations, will furnish the opposition with opportunities to undermine Buhari’s trademark anti-graft image,” he said.
Beyond fears about the uncertainty of Saraki’s next move, the APC National Leader Bola Tinubu’s interest in the matter appears to be more of a personal issue. Tinubu has been accused by independent observers for instigating several attempts to publicly humiliate the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, including a stoning incident carried out against Saraki in the premises of a Muslim prayer ground in Saraki’s Ilorin hometown.
Tinubu has been locked in a power supremacy battle with Saraki since the latter emerged as Senate President against Tinubu’s desires.
In what appeared to be another display of hire wire politics, the Nigerian Court of Appeal on Tuesday surprisingly backed out of delivering judgment in a case brought before it by the Senate President challenging his trial at the CCT a few minutes before a time it had originally scheduled to deliver judgment. No explanation was given by the Court for arresting judgment in the case.
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