…Say His Move to Impose Leadership on the 9th National Assembly Will Fail Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has told the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Mr Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to leave him me out of his schemes and manipulations for the presidential election in 2023. This is coming just as the Speaker,
…Say His Move to Impose Leadership on the 9th National Assembly Will Fail
Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has told the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Mr Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to leave him me out of his schemes and manipulations for the presidential election in 2023. This is coming just as the Speaker, House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara also excoriated Tinubu, accusing him of manufacturing falsehoods and painting “a non-existing picture of the stewardship of Mr Speaker and the work of the 8th House of Representatives under his watch”.
Tinubu accused the leadership of the National Assembly of stymieing “the APC legislative initiatives while attempting to hoist noxious reactionary and self interested legislation on the nation”. He said further: “Just look at the way Saraki and Dogara and their ilk hijacked the Budget Process these past four years. National budgets were delayed and distorted as these actors repeatedly sought to pad budgets with pet projects that would profit them”.
He continued, “Even worse, they cut funds intended to prosper projects that would have benefited the average person. After four years of their antics halting the progress of government, we should do all we can to prevent a repeat of their malign control of the National Assembly”.
But in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Yusuf Olaniyonu, Saraki faulted Tinubu’s decision to dictate to elected legislators and ordering them to comply with the decision of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) to impose the Senate Leader, Mr Ahmad Lawan, as the Senate President and the House Majority Leader, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, as the Speaker, House of Representatives in the 9th Assembly.
According to him, a situation where 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.
The statement reads in full: “Yesterday, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, released another of his now well expected quarterly vicious attack on the person of Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, the President of the Senate. In the statement, 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 Ninth National Assembly.”
“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 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 manoeuvring for influence’, as he puts it.”
“To further make the points here clear, we invite Tinubu to look at the records of the time of submission of budgets and their passage since 2010 and he will see that with the exception of the 2013 budget which was passed on December 20, 2012, all the budgets have been passed between March and May of the same fiscal year.”
“This should give him a better understanding of the fact that the date the Appropriations Bill is submitted to parliament and the readiness of the MDAs to defend the proposals submitted as well as timely agreement on the figures by both chambers of the National Assembly are the main determining factors in when the budget is eventually passed. So, Tinubu should see that the facts cannot support his spins and fake narrative.”
“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.”
“However, there is need to let him know 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.”
“Tinubu also claimed that the Senate leadership ‘stymied APC legislative initiatives while attempting to hoist noxious reactionary and self interested legislation on the nation’. We wonder what these ‘legislative initiatives’ are because in the four years of the Buhari administration, it has only forwarded 11 bills to the Senate, apart from the routine annual appropriations and supplementary budget proposals.”
“Two of these bills, the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill and the National Minimum Wage Bill, have been passed. One of the bills, the Money Laundering Prevention and Prohibition Act (amendment) Bill was withdrawn by the executive following the disagreement between the Attorney General and the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Also, another one, the National Water Resources Bill was rejected because it infringed on the rights of states to develop their water resources.”
“The remaining seven which are the National Centre for Disease Control and Prevention Establishment Bill, Federal Institute of Industrial Research for the Development of Micro, Small and Large Industries Bills, the Suppression of Piracy Bill, Communications Service Tax Bill, 2015; Federal Institute of Industrial Research Bill, 2017; Raw Materials Research and Development Council (Repeal and Re-enactment Bill 2018; Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency (Establishment etc) Bill, 2018- are at various stages of passage.”
“As a leader of the Eighth National Assembly, Dr. Saraki is 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.”
“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), 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,”
According to saraki, others include: “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.”
“We will like to point the attention of Mr. Tinubu to the fact that most of the bills listed above got international and national endorsement from stakeholders who lauded the Senate for the move. For example, the Financial Intelligence Database Agency (Ultrascan) commended the Senate for passing the NFIU Act which enabled the country to be re-admitted into the Egmont Group.”
“Also, the Nigerian Police leadership have praised the Senate for passing the Police Reforms Bill and the Police Trust Fund Bill. Again, when the National Assembly in the 2018 budget gave effect to the law allowing one percent of the budget to be devoted to Primary Health Care Delivery, it got kudos from Bill Gates, Bono, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of WHO, and various national groups who believe the move would bring health care delivery to the poor people across the country.”
“The passage of the UBEC Act (amendment) Bill was praised by Pakistani child education campaigner and youngest Nobel Laureate, Yousafzai Malala. When the PIGB was passed, APC led by Tinubu, National Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE), among others, hailed the Senate for a good job.
“Even, the World Bank commended the National Assembly for the passage of the Company and Allied Matters Act and Secured Transactions in Movable Assets and Credit Bureau Reporting Act. Of course, all these initiatives will be ignored by a man who is still sulking because his vow in 2015 that Saraki and Dogara will never lead the National Assembly did not materialize.”
“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 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.”
“Let us repeat again that we know that a Machiavellian politician like Tinubu will forever agonize 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 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. We advise him to leave Dr. Saraki out of his manipulations and ‘jockeying and manoeuvring for influence and power’, as he termed it.”
On his part, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon Yakubu Dogara, says Asiwaju is entitled to sponsor those he believes will have no choice but answer to his dog whistles anytime he blows same in his capacity as the self acclaimed National Leader of his party.
In a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Public Affairs, Mr Turaki Hassan, the Speaker however says, “If Asiwaju had confined his intervention to stubborn facts, this response would not have been necessary. He, however, used the opportunity to manufacture falsehoods and paint a non-existing picture of the stewardship of Mr Speaker and the work of the 8th House of Representatives under his watch. It is therefore, incumbent on us to set the records straight for posterity.”
“We do not expect Asiwaju Tinubu to dwell on brazen mendacity, much less murder facts and decorum in his rabid bid to justify his patently clear fascist agenda of controlling all levers of power in Nigeria. Asiwaju Tinubu’s nocturnal agenda has no parallel in the history of any democracy and it is more loathsome when he throws caution to the winds and maligns government officials who are doing a yeoman’s job of stabilising the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, even in spite of political differences.”
“It is on record that the Rt. Hon. Speaker has done more to stabilize this government more than Asiwaju Tinubu and his ilk whose stock in trade is scheming, manipulation and subversion especially when they feel they cannot be caught. When the history of Buhari’s administration is written by those who know the truth of what really transpired in the last four years, Asiwaju’s pretentious loyalty to President Buhari will then be exposed.”
“We won’t say more but no matter how long it may last, the truth will one day overtake lies. Perhaps, Asiwaju is still bitter about the leadership contest for Speakership of the 8th Assembly, even though the actors have moved on culminating in Speaker Dogara magnanimously facilitating the appointment of his opponent in the race and Tinubu’s protege as House Majority leader.”
“The chief cause of delay in enacting the budget is the persistent refusal or neglect of the Executive to present it in good time. For the records, in the last four years, there was no urgency or plan by the Executive to achieve a January to December budget cycle. For the avoidance of doubt, we will show the dates the Budget estimates were submitted by the Executive in the last four years below.
– 2016 Budget was submitted on December 22, 2015, exactly nine days to the end of the year.
– 2017 Budget submitted on December 14,2016, just 17 days to the end of the year.
– 2018 Budget was presented on November 7, 2017, the earliest even though it also fell short of the 90 days stipulated by the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
– 2019 budget was presented on December 19, 2018 exactly 12 days to the end of the year.”
“As if the late or delayed submission of budget estimates wasn’t enough, in most cases, Ministers and heads of agencies contributed to the so-called delay by consistently refusing to appear before National Assembly Standing Committees to defend their budget proposals in line with the provision of the Law. At some point, the leadership of the National Assembly had to take up the issue with the President who advised his Ministers to honour legislative invitations to defend their budgets.”
“What Nigerians don’t know is that the Executive, through the various Ministries, continued to propose additional projects to be included in the 2018 budget even as at April and May of 2018 which further delayed the passage of the 2018 budget. These were communicated officially and if anyone is in doubt, we will exhibit the letters with the dates they were written and received.”
“In any case, the National Assembly inserted a clause in the Appropriation Bill consistent with S.318 of the Constitution which allowed the Budget to last for 12 months after Mr President’s Assent. This enabled the Executive to spend more of the capital component of the Budget as it still had 12 months protected by law.”
“As an activist legislature, the National Assembly effected an amendment to S. 81(1) of the Constitution to compel Mr President to present the Budget estimates not later than 90 days to the end of a financial year in order to solve this problem but unfortunately, very unfortunately, Mr President declined assent to the bill which was passed by both the National Assembly and over 2/3rds of the State Assemblies.”
“The National Assembly made a further attempt to make the Budget process much better by improving the institutional capacity of the Parliament to process and pass National budgets by passing the National Assembly Budget and Research Office (NABRO) Establishment Bill into law. It was loosely modelled after the American Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Again, Mr President declined assent to the Bill.”
“It is important to emphasize that the National Assembly is not a Rubber Stamp Parliament and reserves the right, working cooperatively with the Executive to interrogate projects unilaterally inserted by the Executive branch without the input of or consultation with Parliament. The legislature cannot be accused of padding a Budget it has unquestionable constitutional power to review. The Budget is a law and the Executive does not make laws.”
“Therefore, it’s only the ignorant and those who hold dubious academic certificates that say the maker of a document has padded the document that only he can constitutionally make. In the words of his lordship, Hon Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High court, in suit No.FHC/ABJ/CS/259/2014 delivered on March 9, 2016, “the National Assembly was not created by drafters of the Constitution and imbued with the powers to receive ‘budget estimates’ which the first defendant is constitutionally empowered to prepare and lay before it, as a rubber stamp parliament. The whole essence of the budget estimates being required to be laid before Parliament is to enable it, being the Assembly of the representatives of the people, to debate the said budget proposals and to make its own well informed legislative inputs into it.””
“The parliamentarians are representatives of the Nigerian people and you don’t expect them to rubber stamp budgets that are heavily skewed and lopsided against most sections of the country. It is their responsibility to ensure equitable and even distribution of capital projects across all the nooks and crannies of the country, if the Executive fails to do so. In any case, it is false to state that legislative intervention in the Budget Process is to benefit the legislators and not their constituencies.”
“We challenge Asiwaju Tinubu to prove otherwise. He should also show in what way the 8th Assembly acted differently from other Assemblies of the past to warrant the kind of language used. In any case, all the aspirants to the Senate Presidency and Speakership he is sponsoring are majority leaders in the 8th Assembly and took part in the Budget Process that he made the chief basis of his crude attack.”
“This proves beyond doubt the hypocrisy of Asiwaju’s stated reasons for supporting his candidates. He should find better reasons other than the lies being peddled about the Budget and obstructing government business. Asiwaju shouldn’t take better informed Nigerians for fools. Otherwise, when he sought to take control of the 8th Senate and 8th House in 2015, was it because of any Budget Saraki and Dogara had delayed or pet projects they had inserted into any Budget before 2015? Asiwaju must come clean on this matter. He should let Nigerians know why he wants to install both the Senate President, the Speaker and leadership of the 9th Assembly. He may yet win the support of some of them if he comes clean on this matter.”
“The 8th National Assembly is on record to have supported Mr President’s requests on critical issues of governance. We backed him by Resolution on the issue of fuel subsidy, we backed him on the National Minimum wage, even though we were more sympathetic to workers’ rights. In security matters, we never cut any proposal from Mr President save our refusal to rubber stamp a clear constitutional overreach of spending $1 billion in arms purchase without appropriation.”
“We have passed more Bills than any Assembly before us including Bills that are helping the government improve the ease of doing business in Nigeria, and there were times we passed Bills within 2 legislative days. Is Tinubu genuinely ignorant of all these?”
“We challenge Asiwaju Tinubu to list out the Bills he claimed were not passed by the National Assembly. The oil and gas or petroleum sector is the most important and critical sector of our economy which accounts for over 70 percent of our earnings, the Executive didn’t forward a single Bill to the National Assembly to reform and reposition the sector in the last four years even when repeatedly urged to do so by Mr Speaker in his first year in office.”
“The lawmakers waited in vain and had to take the bold initiative of crafting a Bill – Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PGIB) among others, passed it in record time and transmitted same to Mr President for assent. This Bill was vetoed without an alternative Legal framework proposed by the Executive. Did Asiwaju miss this also?”
“Asiwaju Tinubu should mention the so-called bills the Executive sent to the National Assembly and were delayed to show he is a man of honour or forever keep his peace.”
“Could someone also challenge Asiwaju to list all the “noxious reactionary and self interested legislation on the nation”? Can he name the bills that are reactionary and not in the national interest? Is this how wayward lust for power blinds the reasoning of people we should ordinarily respect? Is it not most unfair, unpatriotic and wicked for Asiwaju Tinubu to have resorted to factoids in promoting his known fascist agenda which he mistakenly thinks he is keeping secret.”
“Finally, we advise Asiwaju Tinubu to be circumspect in his use of language. In this case, he spoke as a spokesperson of depravity. Our reaction must therefore be seen as a provoked counter-punch. Anyone can descend into the gutter if he so wishes but no one has a monopoly of gutter language. We won’t run an adult day care centre anymore on matters like this,” Dogara says.