Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, has denied collecting $10 million bribe from oil companies to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which has been assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Recall that on Friday, an online newspaper reported that $10 million was paid in cash to the leadership of the National Assembly to help expedite passage of the Bill despite widespread opposition to a clause that granted only three per cent of upstream oil companies’ operating income to host communities.
However, speaking to State House correspondents on Monday after meeting with President Buhari, Lawan dismissed the allegations.
The Senate President said he took exception to those kinds of unwarranted unprovable false and fake information being fed to the Nigerian public.
According to him, “And that we have established ourselves as an administration, people who say anything or everything about the President about the administration about members of National Assembly, they call us names.
“And this is part of the intangible dividends of democracy. But we are determined to ensure that the space is wide open for everybody to say whatever he wants to say.
“But I will advise that don’t say things that are bad because people are inhabited. And recently somebody said $10 million was given to the speaker and the senate president to give to members of the National Assembly to pass 3% what do you call it? 3%. House communications house was developed developing fun, that is funny, but also very serious.
“I want to take this opportunity to take exceptions to those kinds of unwarranted unprovable false and fake information being fed to the Nigerian public.
“And the danger people will face with this is you cause unnecessary damage to the reputation of people, I had an occasion to take someone to court because of this kind of empty vessel about three months ago. But Nigerians are better judges and lawyers.
“So the freedom of expression is there, probably more than anywhere in the world. But I want to question that Nigerians should always think about their leaders and their administration and their governments. And if they have issues, they think very strongly about, let them speak the truth.
And we are prepared to tell corrections that we feel should be able to make us do better.”
The Senate President also disclosed that he met President Buhari on security, party matters, 2022 budget, and governance issues.
He disclosed that the APC administration was targeting the completion of legacy projects in 2022.
The Senate President also said the All Progressive Congress (APC) was capable of registering 100 million members in the coming months saying, “We are breaking new grounds we are getting and attracting more and more members very solid, high profile people from other political parties, especially the People’s Democratic Party, into the APC. And this is to show the confidence that Nigerians place in our party.”
He also expressed confidence that before this administration leaves in 2023, the security situation would have been stabilised.
“On the security issue. We have seen mass surrender from Boko Haram members. I must say Boko Haram is coming to an end.
“Yes, I’m optimistic that Boko Haram not only Boko Haram, the insurgency because in addition to Boko Haram ISWAP, and probably other tangential groups like that, I’m sure the new strategy by the current leadership of the armed forces are working on Boko Haram heavy losses leader and probably have a lot so many commanders.
“Some of them think they should just throw in the towel. Therefore, it’s one of those very successful stories of the fight against insurgency in the northeast. We have asked for improvements in resources, we have asked for changing of guards in the area of those who are at the top of the echelon of the security services, particularly the armed forces.
“And we have gotten that so I believe that this is one of the success stories. This is real that is happening. What we need to do is to have a clearly defined national policy and how we deal with this.
“Because unless we have a strategy of dealing with this, we may be overwhelmed. And it could deny us the opportunity of getting the best out of this surrendering. What do we need to do? We have to be prepared for the human resources that we have to make available.
“We need to screen to ensure that Those who are genuine and those who may just follow in for some reasons, but I don’t subscribe to the idea of saying forget about people who are surrendering all of them are criminals and the rest of it in the law of wars or something when somebody surrenders, you have something to surrender.
“And of course, maybe you’ll do some profiling and find out whether this is someone genuine. So I believe that we should give people the benefit of the doubt.
“But we should also be very circumspect on those who may not be genuine in this, but we should accept people when they come and take the appropriate measures, get the right strategies on how to deal with the integration of such people into the community.
“Don’t throw them just into the community like that, because you need to do some other things to ensure that everybody is sanitized, so to speak, before they are introduced into the society,” he added.