The president of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, yesterday said that both the ruling All Progressives Party (APC) and its national leader, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, would fail again in their attempt to impose leadership on the federal lawmakers.
LEADERSHIP recalls that the APC failed to have its choice candidates assume leadership of the National Assembly in 2015 after Saraki outmanoeuvred the party to emerge Senate president ahead of the party’s favourite, Senator Ahmed Lawan. It was a similar incident in the House of Representatives as Yakubu Dogara beat Femi Gbajiabiamila to become Speaker against the party’s wishes. Both men counted on the support of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to emerge winners.
The party has again backed both Lawan and Gbajiabiamila for the top seats in the Senate and House of Representatives, with its decision being challenged by some lawmakers on the party’s platform who insist on contesting the positions. Many also see both anointed candidates as Tinubu’s loyalists.
But reacting to an earlier statement issued on Sunday in which Tinubu warned against the takeover of the National Assembly leadership by disloyal APC members and accused its present leaders of frustrating Buhari’s efforts, the Senate president remarked that Asiwaju Tinubu was still being haunted by his miscalculation that led to the formation of the National Assembly leadership in 2015.
In a statement issued by his special adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki described Tinubu as a fascist and an anti-democratic force that failed in his plot to undermine the leadership of the National Assembly since 2015.
“In fact, Tinubu should know that if there was any mistake made on June 9, 2015, it was the miscalculation by himself and his small cabal in the APC who felt they could decide for the senators-elect and House of Representatives members-elect. When they failed after their grand-standing that they could always got whatever they desired, they resorted to undermining the institution of the legislature and waging a campaign of calumny against the law making body. It is now clear that those who took Senators away from the chambers contrary to the directive contained in the proclamation signed by President Muhammadu Buhari on June 9, 2015 are ‘mistake personified’. It is obvious that If they repeat that arrogance during the inauguration of the Ninth National Assembly, they will fail again because Nigeria is greater than them.”
According to Saraki, any National Assembly leadership that is not produced by members would not be able to support the president in the next four years.
He went on: “The institution of the legislature is bigger than the over-bloated egos of these power mongers and dirty schemers. Let us repeat again that we know that a Machiavellian politician like Tinubu will forever agonise over his erroneous belief that Dr. Saraki frustrated his ambition from becoming running mate to President Muhammadu Buhari through a Muslim-Muslim ticket in 2015.
“In his usual cavalier manner, he will stop at nothing to punish Saraki for that. We know that this attack is not about the interest of the nation or that of President Muhammadu Buhari. It is about his 2023 ambition and it is obvious in the statement as he struggled to explain this away.
“However, Tinubu should leave Dr. Saraki out of his schemes and manipulations towards 2023. It is obvious his arbitrary and tactless interference in the process for the emergence of the leadership of the Ninth Assembly is already falling through.”
The Senate president advised Tinubu to allow the lawmakers to freely elect their leadership in consultations with the party leadership if he was interested in the stability of the National Assembly.
“He should stop treating the legislators like hapless pupils receiving orders from a cane-wielding headmaster. A situation where he, Tinubu is dictating to elected legislators and ordering them to either comply with his directives or get out of the party will not augur well for the legislature in the next dispensation.
“History should have thought him that only a leadership that truly enjoys the support of members can help the president and his administration to achieve their objectives. It is a good development that the candidates for the various positions are already reaching out to their colleagues and forging alliances. We can see that after he realised that he has misfired, he is trying to retrace his step and in his usual devious manner, he is looking for scapegoats.”
The Senate president asserted that despite the plot to undermine its authority since 2015, the Eighth Senate had done very well and would leave a good legacy when it completes its term by June.
He said, “Despite all the underhand tactics to undermine the legislature by outsiders and the public posturing, members have always worked as a team on critical issues that have benefits for our people and our nation. That is why hitherto unachievable legislations like the PIGB, Police Reforms Act and other bills or amendments to existing laws were passed with ease, because the members and the leadership know that they are elected as senators of the Federal Republic and not as party representatives.”
In statement with the heading: ‘Saraki to Tinubu: Despite Your Smear Campaign and Hatred for Me, You Sould, At Least, Dwell on Facts,’ Saraki refuted the allegations Tinubu made against him, saying the attack on him by the APC leader was expected.
“Since we have taken it for granted that Tinubu’s attack on Saraki every three months (quarterly) will come as expected, we would just have ignored his statement but for the fact that it was filled with untruth, fallacies and misrepresentations. The statement was another effort to sell a concocted narrative about the Eighth National Assembly and its leadership.
“First, he alleged that national budgets were delayed, distorted, padded, new projects introduced, funds for projects reduced “to halt progress of government”. It is unfortunate that a man like Tinubu who had been in the Senate (though for 22 months and under a military regime) should not have a better understanding of how the legislature works. The passage of budgets is definitely not the exclusive responsibility of the leadership of the Senate. Most of the work is done by the various committees. These committees are headed by Senators representing different parties. It is the level of cooperation between the committees and the MDAs in the timely defence of the budget proposals and the ability of the two chambers of the National Assembly to reconcile their figures that usually determine how soon the budget is passed. To put the blame of budget delay on the Senate President or Speaker can only be mischief, at best, playing to the gallery.”
“It is also a known fact that any so-called delay in the passage of budgets under the Eighth National Assembly is traceable to the refusal of heads of MDAs to defend the budget proposals for their agencies on time. Last year, the President himself had to direct the Secretary to Federal Government to compel heads of MDAs to appear before the National Assembly committees following the report made to him by Dr. Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara. So, if a man like Tinubu is spreading this falsehood about budget passage and delay being deliberately orchestrated by the National Assembly leadership, one wonders whether he tries to even understand what happens in the federal legislature at all, or is that the only thing that is of interest to him is ‘jockeying and manoeuvring for influence’, as he puts it.”
“In all the three budgets already passed by the National Assembly, we challenge Tinubu to make specific reference to where Dr. Saraki and the leadership of the National Assembly ‘sought to pad with pet projects’ as he alleged. Tinubu should be graceful enough to substantiate this allegation. We consider that allegation careless, irresponsible and callous. We therefore demand that he should withdraw it.”
Saraki reminded Tinubu that the National Assembly had the constitutional responsibility to review the proposals sent by the executive and, where necessary, it has the power to make changes.
A good example, he noted, is the decision by the National Assembly to include in the 2018 budget the one percent of the total budget, amounting to N33 billion, as allocation for Universal Health Coverage as provided by an extant law, which had been hitherto observed in the breach.
“Is this what Tinubu considers as budget padding?” he queried, adding that the decision had received praise across the world “as a real benefit to ordinary people across the country.”
He further faulted Tinubu claim that the Senate leadership “stymied APC legislative initiatives while attempting to hoist noxious reactionary and self interested legislation on the nation,” noting that of the 11 bills forwarded by the party, some had been passed, some withdrawn by the executive while others are at various stages of enactment.
He added that as the leader of the Eighth National Assembly, he was proud that, on his watch, the Senate had surpassed the records of all previous Senate in the number of bills passed, the significance of these bills to the revival of the economy, the fight against insecurity and corruption, improvement in the provision of health service and the education sector, as well as better social service delivery to the generality of the people.
“This Senate has passed 282 bills (the highest any Senate had passed is 129 bills recorded by the 5th Senate), among which is the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, Public Procurement Act (amendment) Bill, Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, Electoral Act (amendment) Bill, Police Reform Bill, Police Trust Fund Bill, Nigeria Railways Authority Bill, Company and Allied Matters Act (amendment) Bill, Secured Credit Transactions Act, Whistleblowers Protection Bill, constitution amendment bills, Discrimination Against Persons With Disability Bill, Electronic Transaction Bill, Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, North East Development Commission (NEDC) Act, Witness Protection Programme Bill, Credit Bureau Reporting Bill, Sexual Harassment in Tertiary Educational Institution Bill and Compulsory Treatment and Care of Victims of Gunshots Bill, National Financial Intelligence Agency Act, Federal Audit Services Commission Bill, among others. It will be good to know which of these Bills Tinubu believes is “self interested” and not in the interest of Nigerians,” he stated.
Saraki concluded by asserting that most of the bills listed above got international and national endorsement from stakeholders who lauded the Senate for the move.
Let Gbajabiamila’s Record and Reputation speak for him – Bago
A contender in the speakership race for the 9th House of Representatives, Hon. Mohammed Umaru Bago, has again differed with the APC national leader, Ahmed Bola Tinubu, over his choice of Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila as the preferred candidate for the speaker of the green chamber.
Bago has consequently called on the party leader to allow Gbajabiamila contest on his records and reputation rather than impose him on members-elect.
In statement signed by the spokesperson of his campaign organisation, Hon. Victory Afam Ogene, yesterday in Abuja, Hon. Bago noted that Tinubu’s endorsement of Gbajabiamila was a personal decision and decried his description of other contestants as disloyal party members.
Ogene added that, as national leader, Asiwaju Tinubu should consider the desire of the North Central region and ensure that fairness, equity and reward featured in the party’s dealings.
…Niger House of Reps-elect dump Bago for Gbajabiamila
Meanwhile, Bago’s speakership contest has suffered a blow as eight of the ten House of Representatives-elect from Niger State have resolved to support Hon Femi Gbajabiamila in line with the party’s position.
Emerging from a meeting with the state governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, and the leadership of the party in the state, led by the chairman, Mohammed Jibril Imam, at Government House Minna , the spokesman of the elected lawmakers, Hon Abdullahi Mahmoud (Agaie/Lapai federal constituency) said they took the step for party loyalty.
He said, “At the instance of His Excellency and the party, we elected members resolved that we are for the proposed leadership of Distinguish Senator Ahmed Lawan for Senate president and Hon Gbajabiamila for House of Representatives speaker.”
According to him, the resolution was in recognition of the party’s supremacy and to show loyalty to the party that provided them the platform to contest for the House of Representatives.
Also speaking, APC chairman in the state, Imam said the meeting with the members-elect was a follow-up to the meeting of the chairmen of the party and the governors of north central states held on Thursday in Abuja.
He stated that the move was to forestall a repeat of the frosty relationship between the 8th National Assembly and the executive arm of government.
It will be recalled that, earlier this month, the three senators- elect from Niger State resolved to support Senator Ahmed Lawan for Senate president.
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