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Uproar, objections greet Amaechi’s screening in Senate

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The Senate was yesterday uproarious when former Transportation Minister, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, entered the red chamber for his screening.

The exercise to confirm the 43 ministerial nominees of President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja had begun peacefully at 11:00 a.m. and was proceeding in that fashion until the one-time Rivers State governor took his turn that was greeted with rowdiness, protests, and harsh remarks.

But Senate President Ahmad Lawan was, however, quick to remind his colleagues of the extant convention and policy that grant automatic confirmation to nominees who had served in the national and state assemblies.

Occasional shouts of disapproval were heard from lawmakers every time the presiding officer tried to clarify the issue.

The chamber became more vociferous when ex-Gombe State Governor Danjuma Goje drew attention to Order 3 of the Senate Standing Rule where he contended that those that served in state Houses of Assembly were never in the group of persons accorded automatic confirmation by the said law.

In a swift response, Lawan said there was nothing wrong in granting automatic confirmation to former state lawmakers even when the rule did not allow it.

He explained that the upper legislative chamber enjoys the privileges of changing its regulations from time to time.

As the tension grew, George Thomson Sekibo (PDP: Rivers), raised another point of order that was barely heard before the senate president diplomatically ruled him out of order.

But the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, who was recognised to speak on behalf of the minority parties, pleaded with Lawan to allow Rivers State legislators to ask Amaechi some questions, a request that was again turned down.

The senate president maintained that the policy and convention of granting automatic confirmation to nominees with the legislative background at the state level remained valid.

As the number three citizen tried to persuade colleagues to allow Amaechi to take a bow and go without going through the rigour of screening, more senators objected amid the eventual rowdy clearance.

Abaribe later informed Lawan that members of the Minority Caucus, including those from Amaechi’s home state of Rivers, had messages for him.

According to Abaribe, the issue of the controversial neglect of the eastern corridor of the rail project was agitating the minds of the people.

He made it clear that Nigerians are unhappy that while some parts of the country were suffering from infrastructure decay, the Federal Government was busy extending projects like railway lines to foreign countries.

Meanwhile, the immediate past Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, has put the statistics of out-of-school children in the country at 16 million.

The fresh revelation contradicts earlier claims by officials of the government that the number hovers around 10 to 13 million.

Speaking during his ministerial screening yesterday, Adamu said the figure was based on a February 2019 census.

He stated that out of primary school children were 10 million while their secondary school counterparts are six million.

Adamu blamed the menace on the lack of funds.

In his intervention, Lawan said the legislative and executive arms of government must work together to get the children back to the classroom.


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