Written by Taiwo Adisa:

• Akunyili, Daggash, Alao’s fate still hang in the balance
• As Senate begins screening today

AS the Senate is set to commence the screening of 33 nominated ministers in Abuja today, power play is raging among the various political blocs contesting for the slots.
There were also indications that senators might have forgiven some of the nominees who hitherto faced the likelihood of being dropped during the screening.

Nigerian Tribune learnt that following interventions from some top Nigerians, three of the nominees who were pencilled in for rejection by the senators had now been pardoned.

Last week, reports indicated that  at least five ministerial nominees,  former Minister of Information and Communications, Professor Dora Akunyili, former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Chief Adetokunbo Kayode, former Minister of National Planning, Senator Sanusi Daggash, a new nominated minister representing Lagos, Mr. Olutoyin Aganga, who is the Managing Director of Goldman Sachs in the United Kingdom and a nominee from Kogi State, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), might have a tough time when they appear before the Senate this week.

It was, however, gathered on Sunday that the nominees went to work immediately the story broke, leading to the involvement of top Nigerians in the lobbying process.

A former minister was said to have invited a former governor in the South-West to join his lobby team, while Adoke, Akunyili and Daggash personally moved round the senators at the weekend.

A source said that the senators who were angry that Adoke was nominated without their knowledge had since changed their mind about him when they discovered that Adoke was recommended to the acting president by a top and respected person in the judiciary.

Nigerian Tribune gathered that the Presidency showed the recommendation to a number of the stakeholders where Adoke was described as an incorruptible hardworking lawyer.

A source said that the senator representing Kogi Central Senatorial District, Senator Otaru Ohize, took Adoke round his colleagues at the weekend.

Said a source, “l can assure you that he has received a favourable mention among many members of the Northern Senators’ Forum (NSF) and the National Interest Group (NIG). The three senators from the state and the governor too have resolved to back him.”

It  was gathered that Adoke may be taken to the Ministry of Justice as AGF.

Apart from Adoke, the former AGF, Chief Adetokunbo Kayode (SAN) is also said to have turned things around for himself, following indications that he could be dropped by the Senate.

He was said to have visited the chairman, Senate Committee on Police affairs, Senator Gbenga Ogunniya, who has rallied the senators to his side.

A former governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, is also said to have arrived in Abuja to join in the lobby to save Kayode.

It was also gathered that the Presidency had  scheduled meetings with representatives of the NIG, which comprises a clear majority of the senators to tell them of the need to approve the nomination of Mr. Aganga, who is being opposed for not being an indigene of Lagos State.

Sources however, said that the fate of Akunyili and Senator Daggash remained hanging by Sunday evening following unclear signals from senators.

Akunyili drew the ire of senators when she was allegedly fingered as one of the brains behind the removal of Senator Joy Emordi from the Senate last week by an Enugu Court of Appeal.

Though Senator Daggash is said to have moved round many of his former colleagues, pleading that his life depended on the screening, a source said that it was not clear whether a good number of senators had  forgiven him.

It was learnt that power play had continued in the search for the remaining nine nominees as forces in the states had continued to clash over the nominees.

In Benue, it was learnt that the acting president had conceded the slot to the Senate President, while the governor’s nominee was dropped.

In Adamawa, forces loyal to the former Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, Senator Jubril Aminu, and the loyalists of the former governor of Lagos State, Brigadier General Mohammed Buba Marwa, are battling for the slot for the state but it appears that Marwa has won the battle.

Senator Aminu was involved in intense lobbying for his protégé, the former Minister of State for Health, Dr. Aliyu Idi Hong, to survive the screening process by the State Security Services (SSS).

It was gathered that Hong and the Minister of Transport, Alhaji Isa Bio from Kwara State are the two ministers who still have question marks on their candidature by the security agencies.

It appeared that Hong lost out as the security screening was said to have turned out against him. Bio was said to be facing a similar fate but the source said that his own case had to do with question  marks on the mode of approval of the dredging contract for River Niger. Hong, is, according to sources, being investigated for allegedly amassing property worth  about N500 million since he became a minister.

In his place, it was learnt that Marwa, who is the current Nigerian Ambassador to South Africa, could make the list.

A source said that the names of the nine new nominees had been received by the State Security Service.

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