Senate Screening: Will Amaechi Cross The Hurdle To Become Minister? – By Dennis Agbo

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I thought I was going to enjoy a smooth taxi ride, browsing my phone of news alerts that trickled in, from Kubwa to Berger bus terminus in Abuja. But that was not to be.

The tuned radio frequency in the taxi was doing political analysis of the current events in Nigeria and I was listening with one ear while my second ear browsed the internet with me.

As I boarded the taxi with four others, the cab driver made our number five commuters. The radio analysts were discussing the imperative of Senator DSP Alamieyeseigha’s (May his soul rest in perfect Peace) renewed extradition quest to the Uk for money laundry charge that he jumped bail there in 2006.

Within me I was not happy about the development because I thought the matter was over with ‘Alams’ jail sentence in Nigeria and his subsequent pardon by former President Goodluck Jonathan, but I restrained myself form making public utterance in such a delicate matter, at least not inside a taxi that the identities of co- occupants are not known to me. So I bottled up the sensation going on inside me and attempted a worried smile.

Soon the radio analysts changed the topic to discuss the ministerial list submitted by President Mohammadu Buhari to the Senate for screening.

It was also not an interesting topic for me because of my reservations on the list. If I had my way I would have asked the cab driver to change the radio channel but I was mindful that I was in public transport and should comport myself, after all it will be in a matter of minutes before I would alight and have my ‘peace’ back.

The radio analysts, as if they were aware that some trepidation were going on inside me or any other person inside the cab (as I was to discover), zeroed the discussion on the hurdles before the former Governor of Rivers state, Chibuike Amaechi, to become minister.

At that point I tried to sway my mind off the ‘disturbance’ from the radio and forced my mind to sing one of the Flavours latest songs.

As I was beginning to sing the song in my mind, one of the occupants of the taxi hissed and said “they are wasting their time, Amaechi will become minister whether they like it or not.”

Then the taxi exploded with arguments and counters, yet I restrained myself but forgot the song I wanted to sing.

The cab driver was most disappointed by my co-passengers submission on Amaechi. The driver immediately swayed the steering of the car on that busy highway that we almost skid off into the drain. He pulled up automatically and said “I swear, I go cut my prick if senate allows Amaechi to become minister. Who is Amaechi…?”

This situation was least expected by me who was rushing to catch up with an appointment at the Central Business District but there I was, in the middle of a highway sandwiched by temper-rising fellow Nigerians; pained and yet happy with the political developments in the country.

The driver gunned the car ignition and we were once again moving to town; then the plot, the frustration and the defence of Amaechi were revealed by my co-commuters:

1st Passenger: Look it was wrong in the first place for Buhari to have nominated Amaechi as minister.

2nd passenger: Why?

3rd Passenger: He is corrupt and squandered Rivers state money promoting APC instead of Jonathan his brother.

Driver: Not only that, Amaechi is not fit to be a minister and the President said he is saint Buhari.

2nd Passenger: We don’t have any saint in Nigeria besides; Amaechi has paid his dues in APC and deserves whatever position he can get in government. Go to Rivers state and see his legacies as Governor.

Driver: Which kind of legacy, a legacy that he used people from another part of the country to plunder Rivers state?

2nd passenger: You are only annoyed that he didn’t support Jonathan,  chikena!

3rd Passenger: Amaechi will cast doubt on the integrity of President Buhari’s government and anti-corruption posture.

2nd Passenger: What about the other ministerial nominees, are they not corrupt as well?

Driver: Amaechi’s case is different. He has been indicated by a judiciary commission of inquiry in Rivers state.

2nd Passenger: That was Wike’s hatchet job, forget that one.

3rd Passenger: The senate should help salvage Nigeria by stopping Amaechi. I know that Buhari only included his name is the list to push him to the senate and wash his hands off because I learnt he has been a thorn in the flesh of Buhari to give him a position. These are part of reasons why the list was delayed all these while.

1st Passenger: It’s not only that, Buhari accepted he was sponsored with stolen funds and Amaechi is one of the major financiers of the APC election.

2nd Passenger: Which is the more reason why he should be compensated.

Driver: Anyway, the Senate rules says once majority of Senators from your state are against you, you can’t go and the three PDP Senators from Rivers are against Amaechi, so that solves it. Nonsense!

2nd Passenger: The Senators from his state are against him because Amaechi refused to join them in PDP.

1st Passenger: And why did Amaechi decide to be in a lone voice in a PDP dominated South-south, a minority in majority?

2nd Passenger: He has freedom of choice to belong to any party he wanted.

Driver: Good. Now is time for Amaechi to pay for that Prize of freedom.

The cab arrived the terminus earlier than I noticed and I was happy to alight and face the worries that took me to Abuja.


Mr. Agbo is a journalist and a public Affairs commentator


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