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Defections: APC Expresses Confidence in Speaker Dogara

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.Tells Saraki, Your time’s over, Resign Now or be impeached

.Says Saraki won’t return to Senate in 2019

.Why Party moved against Senate President

.Lists his sins to include

*Emerging Senate President in Violation of Party Guidelines

*Appointing opposition Senators to head Sensitive C’ttees

*Delaying 2018 Budget till the Rainy Season

*Re-writing the budget

*Failed plan to truncate APC National Convention

*Conspiring to factionalize the Party

*Illegal defection from the Ruling Party

*Illegal adjournment of the Senate

*Non-Consideration of Virement, INEC Budget

By Omeiza Ajayi

ABUJA: The ruling All Progressives Congress APC has expressed confidence in the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara in spite of recent defections in the National Assembly including that of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki.

At a news conference Friday in Abuja, National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole also asked Mr Saraki to resign or be impeached.

“I have absolute confidence in Right Honourable Yakubu Dogara. I said something earlier that it was Sen. Saraki that complained. He did not only complain that he was not given juicy appointments but that Rt. Hon. Dogara was also not given and I wondered aloud whether Saraki thought that Dogara is not capable of speaking for himself, afterall he is the Speaker.

Yakubu Dogara

So, if those were the views of Rt. Hon. Dogara, it was not for Sen. Saraki to parrot because Hon. Dogara is capable any day of speaking for himself. The point I tried to make is that Saraki wants to drag everybody along with him. The APC as a party and myself as Chairman, we have confidence in Hon. Dogara. I have had very useful interactions with him.

We have had couple of meetings. He has shared with me in trust, his concerns that have to do with issues in Bauchi state and I have taken steps to address those issues to the best of my ability and I have shared with him that I am excited that we are getting very positive results. So, Hon. Dogara has no problem whatsoever with the APC and he did not do anything similar to what Sen. Saraki did. He emerged as Speaker and he also ensured as a patriot that an APC member emerged as Deputy Speaker. He was not so desperate as to mortgage that position to PDP in order to cling on to his speakership. He knew the difference between personal interests and his party interests”, Oshiomhole said.

Accusing Saraki of always placing personal interests over and above national interest or that of his former party, Oshiomhole said the ruling party will mobilize the electorate in Kwara Central to ensure that Sen. Saraki does not return to the Senate in the 2019 general elections.

In what however looked like a catalogue of the “sins” of the Senate President, the APC said Saraki’s emergence as President of the Senate was in clear violation of Party Guidelines.

Other infractions of the Senate President according to Oshiomhole include appointing opposition Senators to head sensitive and strategic committees, delaying the 2018 Budget till the Rainy Season, re-writing the 2018 budget and his attempted plan to truncate the June 23 National Convention of the party.

Other are conspiring to factionalize the Party, illegally defecting from the ruling party, illegal adjournment of the Senate as well as the non-consideration of a Proposal for Virement from President Muhammadu Buhari and the budget of the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC.

“It is important that we respond to some of the issues he canvassed so that the public is not misled into turning villains to heroes and twisting the facts. There are really no secrets to the Nigerian public but it is important that we help the public to refresh their memories and arrive at their own individual judgment.

“First, the Senate President raised the issue that he has always acted, not on the basis of his own personal interest, but in the national interest. The truth is, it is doubtful if the Senate President has ever acted either in the national interest or in the interest of his own political party before his defection recently”, Oshiomhole began.

We will impeach him

“There is the futile attempt he has made to suggest that the Tuesday’s incident was an attempt to carry out an illegal impeachment. How can a presiding office arrive at such a conclusion that there was a plan to carry out an illegal impeachment? Until an action takes place, you cannot determine the outcome. If impeachment itself is unlawful, then you can understand where he is coming from. It is lawful to impeach anyone, including the President of the Senate and his deputy if the number required to do so is present.

So, he cannot preempt that. From their own statement, they claimed to be aware that the Senate President was going to be illegally impeached and so mobilized thugs to the senate. They told the world that they have adjourned till 25th September. But meanwhile, about 15 PDP Senators were in the Senate and imported thugs that molested two of our members they sighted in the senate. Did you find any APC senator in the senate? If APC senators were not in the senate and it was PDP Senators that were there, what is the basis of the false claim that there was an attempt to carry out an illegal impeachment?

In any case, Saraki is not going to be the first senate president to be impeached and I doubt is he is going to be the last. But definitely, he will be impeached according to law and democratic norms. The only way he can avoid impeachment is for him to do what is honourable. We saw Sen. Akpabio who was the PDP leader in the senate. Once he made up his mind to leave the PDP, he wrote to inform the PDP even before his defection that he was resigning.

So, Senator Saraki has demonstrated neither character nor being a man of honour. I told him when we held a meeting that he came to join the APC as a senator and it is on our platform that you became senate president. Once you made up your mind to leave, the honourable thing to do is to resign as senate president. If he does not resign, he will be impeached according to law and not by thuggery or by mob or anything that is undemocratic. He cannot sustain a minority rule in the senate and that is what is haunting him in the senate.

“When I say that the senate president will be impeached, let me emphasise that he will be impeached properly according to law. The constitution is clear how a presiding officer can be impeached and because several impeachment have taken place, we are not about to witness what has not taken place before. We have enough precedents to fall back on. I have looked at the constitution which does not say that an impeachment is illegal.

Until it is done, you cannot arrive at the conclusion that it is unlawful. How can we be accused of planning an illegal impeachment when it has not commenced? If he thinks that by saying that he will preempt the APC from having him impeached, he is deceiving himself.

I think that the time of Saraki is over, the way he has manipulated the politics of Kwara state, he failed to understand that the Nigerian project is far more complicated than being at the mercy of his own dynasty.

He will not only be impeached, we will work hard to have him defeated as a senator in his own Senatorial zone come 2019 by the people of Kwara state who are fed up with Saraki.

Go and check the results of the elections that made him a senator and you will find out that the President got more votes from Kwara Central than Saraki got for himself. So, he can’t claim that the vote the APC got from his Senatorial zone was because of him.

They were in spite of him and that is why his leaving is of no political consequence as far as electoral issues are concerned. We tried to talk to him, not out of fear, but out of conviction that as a presiding officer, there are rules of engagement and we don’t want him to get so emotional as to affect those rules of engagements

Saraki connived with PDP to frustrate us

“Without going back to ancient history, it suffices to start by looking at how in the first instance, Sen. Bukola Saraki became the President of the Senate. He decided, clearly against the party position to enter into a deal with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party PDP and got a faction of the PDP, and taking advantage of the provisions in the constitution to side with him while majority of the APC senators were having a meeting at the International Conference Centre ICC in order to resolve the issue of leadership of the senate that was expected to be produced by the ruling party with majority senators in the senate.

Because he had put his personal interest over and above the interest of the party, he went into an alliance with the PDP and conceded the position of Deputy Senate President to the opposition in order to obtain the support of the opposition for him, Saraki, to become the Senate President.

And so, for the first time in our democratic history in Nigeria, we have a situation in which whereas the APC have the majority in the Senate, the senate went on to elect a PDP member as Deputy Senate President. This action alone portrays Sen. Saraki for who he is. His personal interest comes before any other interest, including national interest and including the interest of his political party.

Opposition Senators as head of sensitive C’ttees

“Having went into this unholy alliance with the opposition and mortgaging the right of the ruling party, he proceeded to appoint opposition senators to head strategic committees whose activities can affect, either for good or for bad, the fortunes of the government and the relationship between the government and the legislature.

By trading off sensitive and strategic committees to the opposition, Sen. Saraki did that in order to continue to protect himself against the wish of his party as Senate President. Again that shows that the only thing that was ever constant in the mind of Sen. Saraki was how to cling on to power even if it means at the expense of his party or even of the country.

Passing the budget in the rainy season

“You do not have to be a political activist or a politician to know that in an election year, every democratic government around the world would do everything possible to ensure that in an election year, it is seen to be working for the people of the country.

So, like any other political party, the APC administration under President Muhammadu Buhari…Nigerians expected that it would do everything possible this year to make up for lost time in terms of budget implementation and addressing critical infrastructure without which sustainable development is impossible.

The Senate under Sen. Saraki choose instead to delay the budget up to the end of the first half of the year to coincide with the rainy season such that those aspects of the infrastructure such as roads for example, cannot really be constructed during rainy season. These were not errors of the head on the part of Sen. Saraki’s leadership.

They were clearly designed to frustrate the capacity of President Buhari’s government to address critical infrastructural deficits without which the ordinary man on the streets cannot experience or feel the impact of governance.

Re-writing the budget

“Again, I want to plead that I am not about to reveal anything. On receipt of the budget by Mr President, after going through it, he cried out that the budget that was handed over to him by the National Assembly under the leadership of the Senate President was a clear distortion of the well-thought out budget proposals that he had submitted to the National Assembly.

Whereas, Mr President appreciates that the National Assembly could make some alterations on the budget, it did not expect that the budget would be completely rewritten and so grossly distorted as to make far more provisions for recurrent expenditure such that there is very little left for capital projects without which the Nigerian people cannot benefit from governance.

And the president, putting it mildly, said this budget will be difficult to implement. We have all heard of stories of budget padding or no budget padding. On this occasion, I would rather not delve into those. So, when I say the Senate President has never put Nigeria first, I support this statement with reference to the deliberate delay in the budget and the deliberate manipulation of provisions in the budget in a way that will compromise the commitment of the government to address critical infrastructure.

Creating a perception of faction in the APC

“It is by now not a secret that as Senate President, he conspired with others to try to create a sense of division, a perception of division within the ruling party, having failed to truncate our national convention when they assembled a handful of people who were neither delegates nor aspirants to any of the offices during the convention to purport to form a political party.

There is nothing for me to add to the illegality of this action and the false foundation that Senate President Saraki tried to lay. I would rather adopt in toto, the illuminating submissions of Mr Femi Falana SAN. He has spoken extensively on the illegality of Sen. Saraki’s action, whether in terms of purporting that there is a faction in his own political party, as he then was in the APC or basing his decision to encourage defections on the basis of his own imagined faction in his party that is unknown to all and unknown to INEC. Again, those ones do not portray him as someone who is concerned about sustaining democracy.

“Upon his illegal defection, which he had to do hurriedly because the number of senators who he was preying on their fears that they will not be able to return to the senate and or that if they return, they will be heading to prison if President Muhammadu Buhari is reelected…and so, he had at a point, up to 36 senators who were on his list to defect. But consequent upon our election and assumption of office, we took preemptive steps to reassure those senators.

“When he defected, however illegal the action was, he went to Ilorin to tell the people part of the truth when he said that among other things he was leaving for two reasons. But I think the Governor of Kwara state, Abdulfatai Ahmed was more explicit in corroborating Sen. Saraki’s claims when he said that he as a governor and Sen. Saraki as Senate President were being linked to an armed robbery case as part of their reason for defecting. Again, nothing to do with the Nigerian project or the people of Kwara state. However, who linked Sen. Saraki to armed robbery? Was it the federal government or arrested armed robbers? It was the armed robbers who were arrested who alleged that the weapons with which they carried out their heinous crime, including the killings of about 35 people of Kwara state in Offa,  that those weapons were procured for them by the senate president. They made these allegations according to police report which is now in the public domain.

He has not denied knowledge of these people since some of them were captured on camera in his entourage when he went, ironically to pay condolence visit to the survivors of the robbery. So, if armed robbers linked the name of the Senate President to the robbery, should the federal government or the APC be blamed?

A crime that led to the killing of about 35 persons cannot be dismissed with a wave of hand and in any jurisdiction, when your name is linked to such heinous crime, people don’t clap for you. It is the duty of the security agencies to investigate and establish whether they are valid or invalid. So, if he was linked to armed robbery, that cannot be an offence of the government or the APC. The best defence I have heard is that the robbers said that he did not ask them to use the weapon for armed robbery.

Illegal adjournment of the Senate

“In support of my thesis that Saraki has never acted in the national interest, my final submission is on the way he adjourned the senate. The senate calendar is not a secret to the presiding officers and the calendar that was known was that the senate was going to adjourn on a Thursday. But by Monday night, Saraki used his Guest House, wrote out names of senators with provision for them to sign for senators to decamp from the APC to the PDP, but some of the senators refused to sign. That was what frustrated his calculations to turn the APC to a minority party in the senate. Is it a coincidence that as he was reading the names of defectors in the senate, his counterpart in the House was also doing same.

There was a coordination for defection day. But happily, the preemptive measure we have taken to address genuine grievances frustrated their numbers such that from 36, he could not get more than 14 senators to decamp Including one that subsequently overcame the manipulation.

“Between Tuesday and Thursday, the senate was expected to discuss the supplementary budget for INEC. INEC requirement are not things that you buy from the shelf. You have to order them from the manufacturers and so, time is of the essence. But the senate under Saraki adjourned without considering the matters before it including the budget for INEC.

So, if Saraki adjourned the senate ahead of schedule to resume towards the end of nominations, can that act be said to coincide with national interest? If you decide to frustrate INEC by denying it the funds that it requires, can you be said to be a defender of democracy? If INEC do not get their funds and therefore are unable to conduct a credible election, will that not lead to further consequences for our democracy? So, I submit that Saraki’s actions were calculated to undermine democracy. Those who fought for democracy did not do it so that it can be run at the mercy of a senate president whose interest is clearly at variance with national interest. There was a request for Virement which was also not considered.

“A substantial part of the 2018 budget meant for capital project was supposed to be sourced through loan and under the constitution, you cannot borrow from foreign countries without the express endorsement of the national assembly. Without those loans, the budget cannot be implemented.

While this was pending, Senator Saraki put his personal interest above his office and choose to adjourn the senate , leaving this huge national issues unattended to. So, for an officer that behaves like that, how can he argue that anything he did was not about himself? Everything he did has never been informed by national interest.

There are also allegations of lack of transparency and we have seen Nigerians trying to demystify what they earn. We have an arm that is completely unaccountable because of the way he has presided. Therefore, his attempt to use the incident at the National Assembly on Tuesday to portray himself as the conscience of the nation is to insult our collective intelligence as a people”, he declared.

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