Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on Monday declared that the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC and its leaders would fail in installing the leadership of 9th National Assembly -Senate and House of Representatives again if it attempts to repeat the mistakes of 2015.
This is even as he asked the national leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to leave him out of his schemes and manipulations towards 2023 Presidential election.
Saraki, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Alhaji Yusuph Olaniyonu, took on Tinubu over his “quarterly vicious attack” on him and the 8th Senate, especially on the delay in passing and alleged padding of the 2018 budget, contest for leadership positions of 9th National Assembly and alleged stymied APC legislative initiatives in the upper legislative chamber, among others.
Our correspondent recalled that Tinubu had on Sunday issued a statement in which he made comments on series of national issues.
Responding, Saraki noted that Tinubu and his mob have been sponsoring the narratives in the media that the emergence of the present leadership of the National Assembly was a mistake.
He submitted that himself and other leaders of the National Assembly were democratically elected by their colleagues, pointing out that “it is because they are the choice of their colleagues that they have remained in office for the past 46 months, despite all the plots hatched by anti-democratic, reactionary and fascist elements pretending to be ‘progressives’.
“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. The institution of the legislature is bigger than the over-bloated egos of these power mongers and dirty schemers”, he stressed.
Saraki said in the statement by Tinubu, one could see the master of media spins getting ensnared in his own game as he struggled to extricate himself from the narratives about the contest for leadership positions in the 9th National Assembly.
On the allegation that the national budgets were delayed, distorted, padded, new projects introduced, funds for projects reduced, “to halt progress of government”, he “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 co-operation 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, or at best, playing to the gallery”.
Saraki maintained that any so-called delay in the passage of budgets under the 8th National Assembly is traceable to the refusal of heads of ministries, departments and agencies, MDAs to defend the budget proposals for their agencies on time.
He said: “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 maneuvering for influence”, as he puts it.
The Senate President also maintained that it is the constitutional responsibility of the National Assembly to review the proposals sent by the executive and where it deems necessary, it is within the power of the legislature to make changes.
“A good example, 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? And this was a decision which was praised across the world as a real benefit to ordinary people across the country”, he explained.
As a leader of the 8th National Assembly, Saraki said he’s proud that under his watch, the Senate has 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.
He explained that the bills passed, motions moved, intervention made and frequent engagement with the people were all directed towards addressing the day to day issues that affect the lives of the ordinary Nigerians.
“This Senate has passed 282 bills (the highest any Senate had passed is 129 bills recorded by the 5th Senate)”, he added.
Saraki said he knew that “a Machiavellian politician like Tinubu” would never forgive him for erroneous belief that he frustrated his ambition from becoming running mate to President Buhari through a Muslim-Muslim ticket in 2015.
He, however, added that Tinubu’s arbitrary and tactless interference in the process for the emergence of the leadership of the Ninth Assembly is already falling through.
“The frustration from this experience might have been responsible for this needless and baseless outbursts. Our only advice for him is that if he is interested in the stability of the National Assembly, he should allow the members to elect their leadership in consultations with the party leadership.
“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 realized that he has misfired, he is trying to retrace his step and in his usual devious manner, he is looking for scapegoats”, Saraki stressed.
According to him, the 8th Senate has done very well and will leave a good legacy, noting that 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.
He said “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”.
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