All members of the Peoples Democratic Party Senate Caucus on Thursday abstained from the Senate screening of a former Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi, over allegations that the nominee has a pending case in court that should restrain the Senate from screening him.
Amaechi’s nomination has been marred by legal controversies since the Senate announced that his name was amongst the list of ministerial nominees received from President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Senate had previously rescheduled Amaechi’s screening for record three-times before the top legislative body ultimately screened the fiery politician today.
But the PDP Senate Caucus, led by Minority Leader Godswill Akpabio, decided to abstain from participating in the screening, citing, amongst other charges, a Rivers State Panel of Inquiry indictment of Amaechi. Amaechi was also reported to have vandalised the official governor’s residence shortly before he left office, which he did without a proper handover to his successor.
As a result of this development, no PDP senator asked Amaechi questions throughout the screening, although they were present at the upper chamber.
Prior to Amaechi’s appearance before the senators, a closed door meeting was held to determine his fate, the outcome of which apparently favours him.
The action of the PDP senators has reportedly stirred the ire of some of the party’s members, especially those who say they have continued to remain loyal to the party with the hope that the electoral shellacking it suffered during the general elections earlier in the year would force it to embrace internal reforms.
While some of the party’s sympathisers expressed deep exasperation but reserved any immediate action; others were so miffed that they immediately resigned their membership of the party.
One of them is Ohimai Amaize, a top PDP strategist whose political sagacity has been repeatedly tapped by the party.
Amaize, the spokesman to former minister and Lagos PDP chieftain, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, said the action of PDP senators on the Senate floor today has shown that their party will be impervious to any meaningful reform.
“Let it be on record that today, I, Ohimai Godwin Amaize officially renounce and denounce my membership of PDP. The party has no future,” he vented in a message posted on his Twitter page Thursday afternoon.
Amaize’s resignation is expected to rattle the leadership of the party in particular because of his current role as a member of its multi-purpose restructuring committee.
Speaking with Happenings in his first interview since his resignation, Amaize said his resignation couldn’t have come at a better time.
He explained further that, although he joined the PDP in 2012 out of his own personal conviction, the party has repeatedly let him down and today’s development is the “straw that broke the camel’s back.”
“I joined the party in 2012 out of my own volition, but the party has repeatedly demonstrated that it is not ready for a genuine reform,” Ohimai lamented. “While the party intermittently made attempts to show that it was willing to toe the path of sanity, it turned out that the underlying pretexts are not genuine, they were merely a façade to deceive its undiscerning members.”
Amaize, an Abuja-based Christian preacher, described the attitude displayed by the PDP senators in the Senate today as not only shameful but also antithetical to basic democratic tenets.
“None of them could find a worthy question to ask Amaechi, a man who’s widely reported to have pilfered Rivers State to the tune of N108B?,” he wondered, adding that “the Senate Minority Leader’s claim that PDP Senate Caucus abstained from the screening because of a pending lawsuit against Amaechi’s nomination is untenable” because “they could have simply placed themselves on the record by asking though questions that will make Nigerians proud.”
This, Amaize explained, made him began to reflect on his membership of the party.
“I began to ask myself, ‘is this really the right place to be?’ or ‘do these people really understand that you’re one of the young minds who can refocus this great party on the path of political prosperity?’”
He used his resignation to champion the cause of a “third force” in Nigeria’s political space.
“The current APC-led federal government has been an unmitigated disaster to Nigerians, he said.” “There’s nothing in its composition that projects change.”
Therefore, “it’s time for a third force,” he said, because “nature abhors a vacuum.”