On Monday, the President hosted senators elected on the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC) to a dinner at the Presidential Villa. The parley with the lawmakers, which was widely reported, is seen by many within the political circle as moves to avoid a repeat of what happened in 2015.
In 2015, Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, emerged as leaders of the 8th Assembly against the wishes of the APC. Political observers are unanimous in their opinion that the reason the legislature and executive were at loggerheads constantly was because they were always not on the same page. The leadership of the National Assembly, in a bid to survive, sought and got the support of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lawmakers. It was seen as frustrating most of the appointments and bills of the executive. It reached a crescendo when Saraki and Dogara eventually decamped to the PDP.
Recounting what he considered a sad experience, President Buhari described some actions and decisions of the 8th National Assembly as regrettable. He particularly cited the deliberate and persistent delay in passing the nation’s annual budget by the National Assembly as a case in point.
Wary of what happened in the past, Buhari challenged the in-coming 9th National Assembly to do things differently from the outgoing 8th Senate so as to enable his administration achieve its target of transforming the nation.
He said, “This is my fifth and last time of standing for an election – for that reason, I’ll like to leave something behind. And what I want to leave cannot be successfully done without your support.
“So, that is why I’m appealing for your support. What happened in the last Senate and so on is regrettable because I still feel it shouldn’t take seven months to pass a budget. You have a very, very serious job ahead of you. So, what I’m appealing is that any major decision you are going to take please reflect more on the country than yourself as a person – what effect will it have on the country.”
He promised to work and partner with the 9th National Assembly in promoting peace, stability and economic prosperity in the country. The president thanked the governors and senators-elect for their support and understanding.
At the dinner, the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, told the senators that Ahmad Lawan had been endorsed as the sole candidate for the Senate presidency, a decision which seemed not to have gone down well with some of the senators.
Oshiomole urged lawmakers elected on the platform of the party to take charge of the National Assembly. He said in the 9th Assembly, the APC at the moment is far ahead of the opposition in both chambers of the federal legislature.
He stated: “We are far ahead of the main opposition in the parliament. 223 out of 360 we have all the numbers required to make all the laws in the National Assembly. Only one out of 16 APC senators that decamped won election, it is the way God wants to punish them for us.
“Nigerians chose to bless us with huge majority in the National Assembly because they want a vibrant government. God has given us the numbers to support your change government so that Nigerians, especially the poor can benefit.
“We need to look inward and learn the right lesson from what happened in 2015. This time around, the strategic committees which were in the hands of opposition, we will ensure our members take charge. To do so, we thought it is important to sit down with you as our father to discuss how the leadership of the National Assembly will emerge.
“The purpose is to congratulate you and to provide a platform for the senators-elect to interact with you. We want to produce a leadership that is purely APC and the one that will cooperate with the executive.”
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