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Senate Presidency: APC Senators Bicker Over Choice

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Exchange Of Status... Five Days To Go

Exchange Of Status… Five Days To Go

Buhari and Jonathan

Buhari and Jonathan

 

 

 

 

 

 

• Race Narrows Down To Saraki, Ahmed
• Akume Steps Down For Ahmed
• Tough Days Ahead, Oyegun Warns Senators-elect

TENSION in the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the choice of the next President of the Senate heightened, yesterday, as APC senators failed for the umpteenth time to agree on a single candidate.

Senators Bukola Saraki, Ahmed Lawan and George Akume are vying for the plum Number Three job.

After hours of politicking behind closed doors at the Ibeto Hotel in Abuja, during a retreat organised by the APC, many senators stormed out of the conference room, sticking to their guns.

First was the group of senators, which styled itself as ‘Senate Unity Forum’. It declared that all its members had endorsed the candidature of Ahmed Lawan (Yobe) for the Presidency.

Spokesperson, for the group, Senator Barnabas Gemade, disclosed that ‎Senator George Akume (Benue) had stepped down for Ahmed. However, he did not make open the numerical strength of the forum.

Then ‎came the group of senators, which called itself ‘Senators Of Like Minds’. It adopted Saraki as sole candidate for Senate President.

Dino Melaye, who spoke on behalf of the group, claimed that they were 35 in number, maintaining that the North Central geopolitical zone, from where Saraki hails, deserves the seat.

Explaining why Saraki has the wherewithal to lead the 8th session of the National Assembly, he said: “The issue of National Assembly leadership is about integrity, competence, discipline and leadership skills and not about fixing of candidates just for mere horse trading. Our stand is about highlighting a senator who eventually becomes the Chairman of the National Assembly and relates with the executive on behalf of Nigerians, fellow senators and the National Assembly as an institution.

“Furthermore, leadership of the National Assembly is about the senator that has the wherewithal to stabilise the legislative institution, working with the executive and judicial arm of government to be effective and perform to optimal capacity.

“In addition, we are all aware of the fact that all senators from the North Central zone have taken a firm position that they are only interested in the office of the Senate President, which has been earlier zoned to it by the National Working Committee (NWC) of our party and we are also aware that North Central Senators have resolved to abide by the resolution of the zone on a single candidate and anything short of this is an attempt to jeopardise the collective interest of the zone.

“Of the 59 senators of the APC, 35 of us present here, today, hereby, reaffirm our collective commitment and resolution to ensure Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki succeeds as Senate President of the 8th Assembly. We have also resolved that the office of the Deputy Senate President be zoned to the North East.”

Melaye, however, failed to mention the person his group is considering for the office of Deputy Senate president, just as he brandished a sheet of paper containing all 35 senators who had signed to support Saraki.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie Oyegun, has urged APC Senators-elect to prepare for challenging times.

At the retreat, yesterday, Oyegun said: “Make no mistake about it, the days ahead will be tough, and this is not crying wolf…There is no magic wand to make our economy better overnight. Against the realities on the ground, some of which I listed earlier, reviving our economy will be a long and tortuous process. Bold decisions will need to be taken, and this can only be possible if there is a synergy among our party, the National Assembly and the President.”

Delivering his welcome address, the APC Chairman said: “From the first day of this government, a total of 4.1 trillion Naira will be required for sundry expenses, including oil subsidy payment, arrears of salaries at federal and state levels and debt servicing, just to mention a few.

“Put this against the background of the falling oil prices, the unprecedented 60-billion-dollar debt which the outgoing government has left for the incoming one, the largely depleted Excess Crude Account (ECA), the 60 billion dollars that have been lost in the last four years to crude oil theft (and which are perhaps still being lost as we speak), the need to rapidly create jobs for our teeming army of unemployed youths, enhance the security of the citizenry and improve the economy, and you will begin to understand the enormity of the challenges ahead.”

Oyegun noted that while the event is not a “lamentation forum,” it was necessary that “we tell ourselves the truth about the state of the nation, and the expectations of our people.”

According to him, “to a number of our compatriots, by May 30th, a day after the swearing-in of our President-elect, all the streets in Nigeria will be air conditioned while electricity will become stable and fuel scarcity will be a thing of the past. Yes, we will get there, but it won’t happen overnight.”

“You may be required to pass important bills at very short notices. This will not be unprecedented but will require a buy-in to the programmes of the President and the Party and a willingness to work with him and the party for the benefit of all Nigerians. The demands on you will be tasking, but you are up to the task!” Oyegun added.


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2 Comments
  • Joseph

    Is this part of the change?

  • New Nigerian

    I understand how Yerima and Saraki are “senators of like minds” both being ex-governors bent on preserving the senate as the retirement club and playground of ex-governors. How is Dino part of this club? My memo to Dino would be to focus on the need of the down trodden people of Kogi West and I’d submit that this partisanship of his does not help these graceful people – I encourage him not to fall into the “Smart Adeyemi” mindset of carrying the water for oligarchs. Dino should maintain his independent mind, he is a rookie senator who has not even sat in one senate session yet – so why is he jumping the gun and becoming the campaign manager for Yerima and Saraki bent on perpetuating Oligarchy and not democracy….Kogi West do not believe in Oligarchy, if they did they would have returned Smart Adeyemi back to the senate – a word is enough for the wise.

    Now with that said – Senators Saraki, Yerima (and Akume) are Oligarchs and the common sense revolution would be totally compromised, if they were to dictate the pace of the next senate session as Senate President – unless or until – they stop the double dipping from the federation account by virtue of earning pensions that they awarded to themselves as governors + vowing to reduce the jumbo pay they awarded to themselves as Senators (which is an egregious form of corruption). On behalf of the poor people of their respective states I say loud and clear, we the masses are asking for this and APC there NOT take the masses for granted, for how can we afford to pay single individuals so much from federation account:

    Anyone can google and receive this publicly available information on the pensions – as we speak – of Both Sen (Ex-Gov). Yerima and Saraki (Akume and others all over the land enjoy similar):

    “””….Apart from Lagos, Rivers, Kwara State ex-governor will get three cars every three years.
    The Kwara Pension Law was first passed in 2003 and approved by former governor, Mohammed Lawal, which stipulates that, qualified ex-governors and their deputies be paid pension for life, without other perks like accommodation, cars and other perks.
    The law was reviewed in 2010 by former governor Bukola Saraki, now a senator, with the support of the Kwara House of Assembly imposed outrageous raises on all the benefits.
    The current Kwara state governor’s pension law gives an ex-governor two cars and a security car, replaceable every three years. The governor is also entitled to a “well-furnished 5-bedroom duplex”, furniture allowance of 300% of his salary (which totals over N6 million).The law also provides the governor five personal staff paid for by the state, eight policemen, three SSS operatives(of which one must be a female), free medicals for the governor and the deputy.
    Other entitlements are 30% of salary for car maintenance, 20% for utility, 10% for entertainment, 10% for house maintenance. Senator Saraki is currently drawing a monthly salary and a quarterly allowance of at least N40 million.
    According to Premium Times, in Zamfara State, a similar law was signed in 2006 by ex-governor Ahmed Sani Yerima, which gave him and other former governors pension for life, two personal staff, two vehicles replaceable every four years, two drivers, free medical for the former governors and deputies and their immediate families in Nigeria or abroad. The law also gives the former governors a 4-bedroom house in Zamfara and an office, free telephone and 30 days paid vacation outside Nigeria.”””

    So let these ex-governors come clean and say they’d stop double-dipping from the federation account with impunity – it is impunity because they awarded themselves these compensations – also let them make a vow that they’d do the needful to cut their self-awarded compensations at the senate to size and I’d take their canvassing to be senate president seriously.

    Unless this is done – and assume it will not be even if they promise such – then the leadership of the APC party should step in and re-focus the minds of these senators on the “change” mandate which should not be a still birth due to Oligarchs within their midst. We the people are fully tuned-in and trust that APC party would NOT let the masses down. We the people are heartened by the report in the newspapers in April 15, 2015 timeframe that President Buhari would move against these pensions from the federation account – this tussle for the senate presidency may as well be the first line of proactive defence of these illicit double-dipping by the ex-governors – so APC party-leadership should do the needful (independent of President Buhari) to remove this senate-induced booby trap from the path of President Buhari to deliver on the strong mandate of killing corruption, banishing insecurity and delivery job-creating economic growth replete with social welfare safety net for the masses.

    God Bless you all as you deliberate and resolve this to the benefit of 90% Nigerians who live on less than $2 a day (inclusive of 70% who live on less than $1 a day) who by the way are the ones who braved wind, rain, sun, bullets to vote APC into power. May God make the dividend of the change revolution manifest in the lives of the masses.