Senators of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and their counterparts in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were locked in battle on Thursday, over the planned screening of former governor of Rivers State, Chief Rotimi Amaechi as a minister-nominee of the Federal Government.
Plots and counter-plots between senators of the rival parties have occasioned the delay in screening of the former governor so far.
Sources in the National Assembly confirmed a spirited move to stop Amaechi, mainly being coordinated by senators of the PDP and some forces outside the Senate.
It was gathered that some forces in the South-South had vowed to stop Amaechi from becoming a minister, based on perceived sins he committed before now.
The sources were said to have infiltrated a number of senators, including some senators of the APC.
It was gathered that a sharp division had emerged among senators of the APC and PDP, even in the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, handling the petition against Amaechi.
The cracks was said to have informed the delay in the committee submitting its report.
Sources, however, said that senators of the APC were around Amaechi on Wednesday night, to secure a huge reprieve for him.
It was gathered that Amaechi had to move round the key legislators on Wednesday, including lobbying Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, to his side.
As at Thursday, however, the PDP plotters against Amaechi were said to have returned to the drawing board, following the discovery of the intention of the APC to make his clearance a party affair.
Senate spokesman, Dino Melaye, said in an interaction with newsmen in the Senate, on Thursday, that the senators would screen Amaechi next week Tuesday.
He also said the senators would screen the remaining 18 nominees on Tuesday and Wednesday, while also confirming the cleared nominees on Wednesday.
The senators had suspended the screening of nominees on Thursday, as a result of the intense battle over Amaechi and the failure of the Public Petitions Committee to submit its report.
However, speaking to newsmen on Thursday, Melaye said: “We are going to screen nine of them on Tuesday and the remaining nine on Wednesday. The confirmation of all the nominees would be taken on Wednesday.”
He allayed fears over the fate of Amaechi, saying the nominee would be among the 18 nominees to be dealt with on Tuesday.
Speaking on Amaechi’s case, Melaye said: “The committee has a one line report that the matter is in court and that in compliance with our laid down rules and regulations that any case that is undergoing judicial remedy cannot be discussed and that we have distanced ourselves from it and the report will be presented on Tuesday by the grace of God and I assure Nigerians that Amaechi, by the grace of God, will be screened on Tuesday.”
Many of the nominees were seen trooping to the office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, to submit their documents.
Also, on Thursday, Senator Ibrahim Gobir, (Sokoto East), submitted a petition against the nomination of Ms Aisha Abubakar, whose nomination was unveiled in the Senate, on Tuesday.
Gobir, who presented the petition against Abubakar in the Senate, said his people were demanding the replacement of Abubakar and demanding “her replacement with a more competent person.”
Saraki referred the petition to the Senator Sam Anyanwu-led Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition.
He mandated the committee to take necessary legislative action on the petition and submit its report before the screening next week.
In another development, Senate President, Dr Saraki, in an unprecedented move wrote President Muhammadu Buhari about the 18 cleared ministers on Thursday.
Saraki’s media office, in a statement confirming the letter, said Saraki had formally communicated the confirmation 18 ministers to Buhari.
Saraki, in the letter sent through Enang, informed Buhari that the Senate had found the18 of his 36 nominees worthy of appointment as minister.
The letter stated that the nominees, having gone through Senate confirmation hearing, had been found suitable to occupy the office of ministers of the Federal Republic, as provided for in Section 147 (2) of the Constitution as amended.