Amaechi and the acid test of ministerial confirmation
Unlike before when state governors decided who would be nominated from their states, the president and a few close associates picked the nominees with utmost secrecy. Not even several media speculations got the list right before it was released. Aggrieved All Progressive Party (APC) governors and other party stakeholders kept their cool for reason best known to them.
One name on the list that drew much controversy was that of former governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi who also served as Director General of Buhari Campaign and played vital role in the APC success in the 2015 polls. He has been in the negative and positive sides of the news since he parted ways with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the then President Goodluck Jonathan.
Towards the twilight of his second tenure as governor, he fought tough battles to save his political career in the face of his opposition to President Jonathan’s second term bid. Being from the same zone with Jonathan, many saw his stand as a betrayal of his people, while others described it as a matter of principle.
With the outcome of the last presidential poll, it appeared Amaechi had the last laugh for now.
When the Senate leadership set the rules for ministerial screening to include support from two senators from the nominee’s state, many thought Amaechi’s ministerial ambition is dashed. Added to his political predicaments was his alleged indictment by the judicial panel of inquiry set up by his political foe and successor, governor Nyesom Wike. An indictment many have described as political and unconstitutional.
Senate’s initial grandstanding that the screening exercise would not be business as usual gave some the impression that Amaechi would not scale the hurdles at the Red Chamber. This again was in line with the initial threat by the three PDP senators from Rivers to block his confirmation.
Thrice, his name was listed in the order paper for screening and thrice it was dropped. High-wire politics, suspense, and intrigues took centre stage. The Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges investigating petitions against him became divided and politicized along party lines.
Some even insinuated that the delay and intrigues were to soften the ground for his screening following stiff opposition from the PDP senators. But others disagreed, alleging that it was a political strategy to bargain for soft landing for the Senate President over Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) trial. Surprising to Nigerians was that on the day of Ameachi’s screening, the PDP senators especially those from Rivers lost their voices.
That is a typical attitude and principle of an average Nigerian politician. They make noise in the open, negotiate and compromise in the secret because what is permanent and sacrosanct in the game is personal interest above every other thing.
Now that Amaechi has been screened, will be confirmed by the Senate, following another threat by the same PDP senators to block his confirmation? Can the PDP senators achieve it this time or will it be another political talk? Will APC senators unite and rally round him to save him and the party from PDP humiliation? Meanwhile between Amaechi and the senators, is there any difference? It seems there is none. It is only that they are different sides of the same coin.