Following a push by the PDP minority, the Nigerian senate came up with an unprecedented rule which may have severe repercussions for some ministerial nominees of President Muhammadu Buhari. The senate says when screening of nominees begin next week, every nominee must have the backing of at least two senators from his state in order to be cleared.
The new rule automatically creates a challenge in states where the APC does not have any senator.
In Ekiti, there is no APC senator. The good news for the ministerial nominee, ex-governor Kayode Fayemi who was expected to have a bumpy ride is that Gov. Ayo Fayose in a rare and magnanimous gesture has asked senators from the state to back Fayemi’s nomination.
In Rivers State, the reverse is the case. Gov. Wike is believed to be strongly against ex-governor Amaechi’s nomination, and the Rivers APC is frequently tactless and non-conciliatory as well. After Amaechi was nominated, the Rivers APC asked Wike to “go ahead and commit suicide.” By then, the senate had not made the rule that required the backing of two senators per state. They must be regretting their statement now because all three Rivers senators have already voiced opposition to Amaechi’s candidacy and have submitted a petition before the senate.
Another ex-governor whose fate is uncertain, is Chris Ngige. In addition to being an ex-governor, Ngige is an ex-senator. If the senate follows its much criticised tradition of asking former senators who are nominated for ministerial office “to take a bow”, then Ngige would have no problems. However if senators from his state are asked to endorse him first, the situation may be different. There is no APC senator from Anambra state. Andy Uba, Stella Oduah and Uche Ekwunife, all belong to the Peoples Democratic Party.
Earlier this week, Ngige had a guest in his house – the Anambra Central senator, Uche Ekwunife. She came to commiserate with him over the death of his father, Pa Pius Ngige. Ngige and Ekwunife vied for the senate seat in the last elections but she defeated him. We are however working with the assumption that she visit him in his house if they were sworn enemies. If, as expected, Ekwunife backs Ngige, then all that is needed is one more Anambra senator to support. Between Uba and Oduah – two acclaimed dealers – one is likely to endorse.
So whether by “take a bow” or endorsement of Senators, Ngige may have a smoother ride than Amaechi. But, hey, this is Nigeria politics – it’s never over until it’s over.