Why Ekweremadu was not allowed to preside over the screening of ministerial nominees-Ndume

The Senate Leader, Ali Ndume (Borno South), yesterday spoke about the issues surrounding the ongoing ministerial screening process and the shutting down of the senate on Wednesday.
Ndume said that even though section 147(6) of the constitution, prescribes a time limit of 21 days within which ministerial nominees must be confirmed by the senate or stand automatically approved, it does not apply to the senate.
According to him, the provision is for 21 working days, and since the senate sits for only three days of the week (Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursday), it then means that the said 21 days will be equals to only seven days for the senate.
“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,” Ndume said.

Unless Ndume’s interpretation of the constitution is challenged, it means Nigerians may wait until December to have the full compliment of ministers for the Federal cabinet. This is a consequence of President Buhari’s widely criticised delay in forwarding a list to the senate for its consideration.

Ndume wondered why Nigerians who are now calling on the senate to speedily dispense with the screening exercise, did not express the same anxiety when Buhari took as long as four months to announce the nominees.

He said: “We are supposed to be talking about the screening details. We screened 10 last time, the public started saying you are screening 10 in one day? In America, they screen one senator in two weeks. We said which one is the reasonable number?

“We have six weeks going. So, let’s take three (ministerial nominees) so that we will take it for six days. And that will be six weeks by our calendar and we will still be within the 21 days. So, we started yesterday, taking three, one was not ready for certain issues. And they said we only screened two. And the constitution does not provide that every Nigerian is a senator. So, we are the Senators, you are the journalists. Do your job, let’s do our job.”

He also said yesterday that the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, was not allowed to preside over the ministerial screening exercise on Wednesday because he is a member of the opposition. He said the screening exercise is important to the APC and cannot be left to be conducted by the PDP deputy speaker. According to him, the cancellation of plenary was not in solidarity with Saraki.

“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,” Ndume said.
Here’s what Ndume had to say about former Rivers governor Rotimi Amaechi’s screening.

“But let me add that the Ethics and Privileges report is not the determinant of Amaechi. 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 practicing 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.”

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