The Senate on Wednesday allayed fear over possible expiration of time lag for screening of ministerial nominees as outlined by the constitution, stating that it was still on schedule under the 21 working days for the exercise to complete.
Nigerians have been drawing the Senate attention to the provision of the constitution (section 147 (6) which grants only 21 working days for the Senate to screen nominees after which the President could go ahead to appoint nominees not screened as ministers.
The Senate leader, Ali Ndume who cleared air on the issue, said the Senate was still very much within the 21- working days for the exercise.
Arguments are being canvassed that since the Senate has continued to dilly-dally over the case of former governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi through a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari dated September 30, Amaechi may automatically become a Minister on the failure by the Senate to screen him in line with provision of the constitution.
Ndume made more clarification on the issue in a chat with Senate correspondents stating the 21 working days being interpreted by the public to be five working days of the week are different from the working days in the senate.
According to him, the senate has three working days in a week and not five working days as it is with other public institutions in the country.
The three working days in the senate and by extension, the House of Representatives he said, are the three days of their plenary sessions, which are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
He said: “The Senate is an institution, an independent arm of government and should be respected and strengthened. Besides, if the President takes his discretion to take his time to submit the (ministerial) list, which Nigerians patiently waited for, for about four months, why are Nigerians not patient with the Senate to wait for its conclusion?
“Supposing we said let’s take it off till next week, we have that right to do that. But the constitution is guiding us that we have to do this within 21 working days. And we are still within the 21 working days. It is not 21 days, it is 21 working days. And our working days in the Senate plenary is three days in a week.
“So, if you are talking about 21 working days, (it means) that the Senate will do this within seven weeks because we sit for plenary Tuesdays , Wednesdays and Thursdays. That is three working. It means that logically, we can do this up to seven weeks”.