-Justifies impeachment plot
-No date yet to consider INEC budget – Saraki, Dogara
-APC alleges planned mob attack on own senators by PDP
Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, yesterday hinted that the people of Kwara state are ready to demystify Senate President Bukola Saraki in the 2019 general elections.
Until his defection a few weeks ago from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Saraki was the leader of the party in Kwara state, a position now occupied by Mohammed.
Saraki has been under intense pressure to resign following his defection, a move he and his new party, the PDP have consistently rebuffed.
And as an alternative, the governing party will have to muster two third of the senators to get Saraki out of office.
A groundswell of reactions greeted Saraki’s decisions to defect; with some saying he might have burnt his fingers, while others are of the view that the two-term governor of the state has what it takes to defeat the APC in 2019 elections.
But expressing optimism yesterday that Saraki’s ‘reign’ is over, Mohammed said political watchers and indeed Nigerians will be shocked at how the Senate President will be humbled in 2019.
He made the position known during an advocacy visit against fake news and hate speech, to the Corporate Headquarters of Blueprint Newspapers in Abuja.
Asked how the party hopes to displace Saraki in 2019, he said Kwarans should be on the lookout as “there will be a demystification and the people will be pleasantly surprised.
“I am not saying this because I am probably the most senior urviving member of the ruling party; I am saying this because I can feel the pause of the people of Kwara state.
“For the first time in Kwara state, people have now resolved that no longer will one man control their destiny.
Young, old, male, female, north and south have all united that by 2019, they are going to liberate themselves.” He also lamented that “most commentators on Kwara politics have been blinded to the realities on ground, which is that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was not a party to the merger in 2013.” The minister further explained that, those who merged to form APC were the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party, Congress for Progressive Change, Action Congress of Nigeria and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance and as well as the Democratic Peoples Party.
He said: “It was after the merger that five governors in PDP walked out of their convention, and at different times came to join APC,” arguing that “those who have left today, are those who were in PDP who came to join APC, not those who were in APC before they came.
And even at that, they have not succeeded in taking everybody along.
“Many people who were in either ACN or CPC refused to join APC because Dr Bukola Saraki’s PDP was coming.
So those are the people who are now coming to join the APC, they said, ‘no we ran away from you and now you are coming back’.
So they joined APC.” He said contrary to insinuations, the struggle in Kwara politics is not between him and Saraki, but rather between Saraki and people of the state.
Justifies impeachment move On the plot by the APC to ensure Saraki’s impeachment, the minister said it was justified, saying the APC platform was what the former governor used to get to the office.
According to him, “if the party now feels very angry or betrayed by Saraki (for defecting to the Peoples Democratic Party), I think it has a point.” “Since nobody can get to the National Assembly without a political party, I think APC has every right to seek for the removal of the Senate President,” he added.
He was, however, quick to point out that the Buhari administration was not involved in the melee, as it is not bothered about who the Senate President is, as the National Assembly members decide who their leader is.
He expressed disgust at the way the ethnic and religious fault lines were being used to de-market the present administration.
INEC And in a related development, the Senate President and Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt.
Yakubu Dogara, have ruled out the possibility of the National Assembly reconvening for consideration of the N242 billion budgeted for the conduct of the 2019 general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
In a joint statement by their media aides, they said reconvening is not feasible now on account of non readiness of report from their relevant committees upon which such consideration can be legislated upon and approved.
The statement reads: “The leadership of the two chambers had met and agreed to reconvene to consider the proposal this week before which a meeting between the Joint Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Electoral Matters and officials of the INEC must have held on or before Monday August 13, 2018.
“The joint committees were also expected to meet with the joint Senate and House Committees on Appropriations, Loans and Debts on the Eurobond loan request after which two reports would have been ready for presentation in the two chambers.
“However, no such meeting had taken place yet as a result of which both Senate and House of Representatives cannot reconvene as there is no report to consider.
“Until the Committees have a ready report for the consideration of the two chambers, it will be most irresponsible to recall members from recess, especially those that may have travelled to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj.”
APC alleges planned mob action Raising the red flag, however, the APC has alleged plan by PDP to attack some of its senators, all in a bid to ensure Saraki retains his seat.
The APC, in a statement yesterday by its Acting National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, said it learnt the PDP will recruit thugs for this purpose.
It, therefore, called on security agents to protect APC senators and warned that if any senator is harmed, both the PDP and Saraki should be held directly responsible.
The statement said: “Our attention has been drawn to sinister plans by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to attack some All Progressives Congress (APC) Senators as part of the PDP’s desperate bid to ensure that Dr.
Bukola Saraki clings to the position of Senate President.
“We learnt that the PDP expressed worry over the APC’s Senate majority and considered several options to stop the APC from taking over the Senate leadership among which is attacking some APC Senators to ensure their inability to attend legislative sittings.
“We call on security agencies to also closely monitor the activities of some PDP leaders including Saraki because the plan to attack APC Senators is real and imminent.” The party also claimed that Saraki tried to bribe its senators with N100 million each, but with no evidence to back up its claims.
“We reiterate our call for Saraki’s immediate resignation as Senate President.
He cannot lead the APC majority Senate.
But if he fails to resign honourably, we will impeach him.
The PDP’s propaganda and threat of violence cannot save him.
“Saraki’s decision not to reconvene the National Assembly done with the support of the Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt.
Yakubu Dogara, further buttresses our position (that) Saraki is ever ready to pursue his selfish interests over national interest.
This is another brazen display of his penchant for abuse of powers and sabotage of government, however the cost and implication.
“Clearly, Saraki’s actions as Senate President now borders on high treason,” Nabena concluded.