Fred Itua and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, yesterday, accused former governor of Lagos State and national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, of peddling untruth, fallacies and misrepresentations.
Saraki, in a statement signed by his media aide,Yusuph Olaniyonu rebuffed allegation by Tinubu that under his leadership of the senate, national budgets were delayed, distorted, padded, new projects introduced, funds for projects reduced, “to halt progress of government.”
Specifically, Saraki who was replying to an earlier statement by Tinubu, said to blame budget delay on the senate president or Speaker could only be mischief or at best, playing to the gallery.
He accused Tinubu of sour-graping, as he argued that the ex-Lagos governor was yet to forgive him for frustrating his plans to secure the vice presidential ticket of APC in 2015
“Despite your smear campaign and hatred for me, you should, at least, dwell on facts,” he admonished the APC national leader.
Saraki also accused Tinubu of plotting to install the presiding officers of the ninth National Assembly as part of his plans to run for the office of the president in 2023. Throwing jibes at him, Saraki said the plots would fail.
Saraki fired: “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 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 realised that he has misfired, he is trying to retrace his step and in his usual devious manner, he is looking for scapegoats. We advise him to leave Dr. Saraki out of his manipulations and “jockeying and maneuvering for influence and power”, as he termed it.”
Speaking further on his emergence as Senate president in 2015 and how Tinubu is yet to come to terms with it, Saraki wrote: “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.
“We hereby submit that Dr. Saraki and other leaders of the National Assembly were democratically elected by their colleagues. And 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 sembers-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.”
Dismissing budget padding allegations, Saraki said: “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.
“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 maneouvering for influence”, as he puts it.”
Meanwhile, one of the contestants for the position of speaker, House of Representatives, Umaru Bago, has challenged Tinubu to address the issues of equity, justice and fairness in the House leadership.
Bago, in a reaction to a statement by Tinubu on why he is supporting APC choices accused the former Lagos governor of circumventing sensitive issues that borders on the cohesion of the party in the speakership contest.
The lawmaker, in a statement by spokesman of his campaign organization, Afam Ogene, stated that the APC leader focused on pitching other members of the party against President Muhammadu Buhari, instead of addressing the main issues in the contest for the leadership of the Green Chamber.
He said it is against natural and social justice to zone the position of speaker to the South West which already has the vice president, while other zones are left as orphans.
“For starters, even though he took extra care not to mention his choice candidate by name, the laborious attempt to pass off same desire as the onerous craving of President Muhammadu Buhari clearly leaves his real intentions exposed.
“Not too long ago, in 2015, when Tinubu tried to foist the same mentee of his as Speaker, in spite of the rational voices of caution by many stakeholders, many had been left wondering if the enforcement effort was at the instance of President Buhari and the Party.
“Although, a greater portion of the statement centred on his probable scheming for the 2023 Presidential election, real or imagined, our concern revolves around the oblique reference to loyalty as basis for his decision to stand by his adopted as the next Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“It is on this score, and several other incontrovertible facts that we disagree with the position of our national leader.
“It is our contention that nobody has the monopoly of loyalty. Put succinctly, it is not anyone’s exclusive preserve and no one is a custodian of it.
“In deed, the pursuit of equity and fairness in an enterprise where we
are all stakeholders cannot vitiate our candidate’s long standing,
earned reputation as a loyalist of President Buhari, our party, the
All Progressives Congress, and above all, the people of his
constituency, his state, Niger, and the North central zone who have
invested their trust in him to represent them.
“Instead of seeking to pitch party faithful who seek their just due
against the President, we rather expect Asiwaju Tinubu, as a father to
all, to critically consider the legitimate aspiration of the North
central zone and ensure that justice is done.
“For example, while the entire six states of the South west gave our
party a total of 259, 780 margin of victory over the rival People’s
Democratic Party in the presidential election, only Niger state – from
where Hon. Mohammed Bago hail – secured for the APC a margin of win of
394, 319, thereby thumping the South west votes by 134,539 votes.
“Wherein then lies the rationale for seeking to arrogate the
Speakership position to the South west, which by the way already has
the country’s Vice Presidency in the kitty?
“As joint workers in the APC vineyard, the least that is expected is
that every zone ought to be rewarded proportionately according to its
work rate or contribution.
“We are, therefore, at a loss as to why a zone would be doubly
rewarded, while the others watch helplessly like orphans.
“These are the germane issues we expect our respected national
leader, Asiwaju Tinubu to seek resolution to.
“Until, and unless answers are provided to these nagging questions,
anyone seeking to lead the House ought be allowed to do so on his own
merit,” Bago stated