“I was once a legislator. I’ve been on the other side, too. These are things we can fashion out. I encourage President Buhari to find political solutions…”
Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Former governor of Abia State, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to explore a political solution to the face-off between the National Assembly and the Presidency, over the failure of the parliament to reconvene to pass the budget for the 2019 general elections, as well as attend to other pending national issues.
Kalu said this when he appeared on Kaakaki, a public affairs programme on the African Independent Television (AIT), yesterday.
The former governor, who is also a leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), said there is need for an urgent truce between the two arms of government in the interest of the nation, stating that conflict is affecting the polity adversely.
Kalu added that why he is not out to blame any of the two arms of government for the face-off, the National Assembly ought not have commenced its annual recess, when there were still pressing national issues to be attended to.
“There are some appointments that need confirmation, like you said, and legislations like the supplementary budget, if I was in the shoe of those National Assembly members, they should do it before they go for recess. They are entitled to their recess, “ he said.
Kalu called on the National Assembly to reconvene and address the 2019 budget, as well as other legislations that are critical to the running of the government, in the interest of the country.
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Regardless, he urged President Buhari to call the leadership of the National Assembly, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other parties to the dispute to a round table discussion.
He said: “I was once a legislator. I’ve been on the other side, too. These are things we can fashion out. I encourage President Buhari to find political solutions to these things because the legislators have different opinions. It is not just one person. People might be blaming Saraki, it is not just about him. Saraki is the leader of the National Assembly, but there are other people who might be more powerful than Saraki in the Senate. My advice is that when the president is back from his Sallah vacation, he should call the leaders of the House of Representatives and the Senate to sit with him and the people in INEC and the budget office at the Villa to sort things out.
“I’m not trying to blame anybody, but, I blame, partiallly, the legislature. They shouldn’t have gone on recess. Saraki is my personal friend and I can never say anything evil against him. I’ve known him for over 40 years and I cannot fiight anybody’s fight. Everybody should carry his cross.
“But, what I’m saying is they should have consulted the executive before closing the House. They should have asked if there were some necessary things they needed to do in the interest of the nation.”
Speaking on the clamour by the APC for Saraki to resign his position as senate president, following his defection to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Kalu said there is no rift between the ruling party and the National Assembly on the issue.
“I’ve not seen any rift. If you leave your political party, and the party is in majority, you have to get down from leadership. It is very simple. It is a moral obligation. The majority must produce the leaders of the House all over the world. In America, there are only 49 democrats and 51 republicans. But, the leadership of the House, from the day it changes, nobody tells you, you have to change. Look at Pelosi, when Pelosi was speaker of the House of Representatives, when she was defeated, nobody reminded her she had to leave. It is a moral issue,” the former governor stated.
He Kalu urged the National Assembly to reconvene in the interest of Nigerians.
“Let them come and do the people’s business first, before we start talking about leadership. I’m not here to talk about the leadership of the National Assembly. I want the the National Assembly to reconvene to save the country. They are things that supposed to be done for the nation.”
On comments credited to Professor Itse Sagey that President Buhari will fund the 2019 elections budget with or without appropriation from the National Assembly, Kalu said “I was once a governor. When appropriation is not done, the president is at liberty to source for funds elsewhere to execute projects.”
There are so many other funds, he can borrow from. He is not doing it because he wants to disregard or disgrace the legislators…But there are contingency funds in other areas, where the President can borrow from pending appropriation. Professor Itse Sagey is right in the other side. But knowing President Buhari for who he is, I don’t see President Buhari going out of his way without appropriation to fund the national elections.”