Senate Finally Screens Ameachi, 4 Other Ministerial Nominees


The Nigerian Senate on Thursday finally cleared former Rivers State governor, Rotimi Ameachi, in spite of speculations that he would not be confirmed due a petition against him before the red chamber.

Controversy had trailed Amaechi’s screening since a petition alleging financial crimes against him came before the Senate, a situation worsened by the postponement of his appearing before the senators at least twice.

Aside Ameachi, other candidates screened following the resumption of ministerial nominees are Cladius Omoleye Daramola, Baba Mustapha, Heineken Lokpobiri and Ocholi Enojo James.

Opening the floor, the long awaited Amaechi, was evidently prepared and looked at ease and smiled freely as he answered questions put to him by senators of the All Progressive Congress, APC,

Senators of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, literally boycotted Amaechi’s screening as the Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, announced that opposition members of the red chamber would not be asking any question.

Following Akpabio’s announcement, the Senate Leader Ali Ndume observed that the APC senators too might as well accord Amaechi the honour of being a former Speaker and governor in Rivers State and ask him to take a bow and go, a privilege reserved for former members of the National Assembly.

His response elicited mild argument, but calm returned moments later with senators Suleiman Nazif, Danjuma Goje, Tayo Alasoadura, Abdullahi Gumel, Shehu Sani, and Gbenga Ashafa asking the former governor a number of questions, mostly political.

On the problem of unemployment, he said that Nigeria has a huge opportunity in Agriculture to tap to offer gainful employment to the youths.

“I believe there are resources in the Niger-Delta that is why there is Militancy. If you invest in agriculture and invest in technology, you will hire as many workers as you can get,” he said.

Continuing, Amaechi said that Nigeria “must improve on the social rights of the people; if you have peace you’ll have investors. Why people don’t invest in Nigeria is because the cost of investment is higher than the profit.” He added that the country must also invest hugely in education because many youthful Nigerians are “unemployable.”

Asked to define corruption, the ministerial nominee said that it was too huge a concept to be given a single definition and he gave examples of corrupt practices.

“If they send a girl to you to do something for her and you sleep with the girl, you are corrupt,” he observed, apparently insinuating that immorality can count as corruption.

Meanwhile, Lokpobiri, a former senator, spent only a few moments on the floor as he was asked to take a bow and go after he was briefly asked a few question on environmental rights in Niger Delta by the Senate President.

Daramola, who had displayed deep background in education with his antecedents, responded to several questions bordering on educational standards, cultism, teaching quality and teachers’ remuneration.


“We have systemic problems in our educational sector,” Daramola stated.

He observed that cultism is rampant more among the children of the rich, contending that “you rarely find children of the poor as cultists; most of them come from comfortable families.”

After him, Baba Mustapha, a former council chairman, former member of a state House of Assembly and House of Representatives, was questioned on improving local government administration before he was asked to take a bow and go. He canvassed for autonomy to be granted to local governments.

Ocholi, who introduced himself as an active lawyer with vast experience in the legal profession, reacted to questions surrounding existing laws in tackling corruption, catering for Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in the North east and issues of prison service and congestion.

He observed that a situation where nearly 70 per cent of the prison population is awaiting trial is “unhealthy for Nigeria”, adding that “our prisons need to be improved on.”

On delayed justice and judiciary, he observed that “Supreme Court Justices are doing a very great work, but noted that the jurisdiction of the apex court is too wide.”



    “There are so many things we need to do to expedite justice in our nation. In my experience, I have had a difficulty in buying into plea bargaining. Plea bargaining has only been recently codified clearly; the initiator, the terms, the guilt or otherwise,” the nominee stated.

    Ocholi also expressed support for calls that anti-graft agencies be merged.

    “One agency can combine the functions of the EFCC, ICPC, etc. and perform well. Justice delayed is Justice denied,” he said.

    The screening continues Tuesday next week with 11 more ministerial nominees expected to appear before the Senate.


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