Senate President Bukola Saraki says it is “unfortunate” that after 22 months in the legislature, Bola Tinubu, National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), does “not have a better understanding of how the legislature works”.
As reported by SaharaReporters on Sunday, Tinubu, had accused Saraki and Yakubu Dogara, both former members of the party, of budget padding, saying: “Just look at the way Saraki, Dogara and their ilk hijacked the budget process these past four years,” he said in a statement released by Tunde Rahman, his spokesman.
“National budgets were delayed and distorted as these actors repeatedly sought to pad budgets with pet projects that would profit them. Even worse, they cut funds intended to prosper projects that would have benefitted 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.”
Responding in a statement by Yusuph Olaniyonu, his spokesperson, on Monday, Saraki described Tinubu’s allegation as unfounded, fictitious and an attempt to cast the leadership of the eighth National Assembly in bad light.
Saraki challenged Tinubu to substantiate his claim by making reference to where the National Assembly “sought to pad with pet projects”. He described the allegation as careless, irresponsible and callous, while demanding that Tinubu should withdraw it.
“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,” Saraki said.
“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. 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.
“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.
“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.”
Saraki said he is proud that the eighth assembly has records that are unmatchable by all previous senates in the sheer number of bills passed and its signifance to the economy
“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,” he said.
“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.
“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. 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.”