The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, yesterday said his antecedents and body language in the seventh Senate had made him an unlikely person to be sponsored by oil barons involved in the infamous oil subsidy deals.
He also restated the support of his leadership to for anti-corruption stance of President Muhammadu Buhari, stating that the Senate would give the Buhari administration all the necessary legislative support to wipe out corruption in the country.
In a statement by the spokesman of the Senators of like Minds, signed by Senator Dino Melaye, refuting a news item by the Nation Newspaper, titled, ‘How oil barons, others hijacked Senate, House election’, he described the report as false and a handiwork of fiction.
According to Melaye in the statement, “Lies from the Pit of Hell” he explained the anti corruption stance of the Senate President, saying, “We make bold to state that in the seventh assembly, Senator Bukola Saraki was Chairman of the Senate Ad-hoc Committee which exposed the fraud and mismanagement in the oil sector. “Until Saraki’s motion on the floor of the Senate, no one was in the picture of the rot in the sector. Therefore, surely, Saraki will be the last person the oil baron will want to see as Senate President.”
In that position, the statement further said, “Saraki did not only lead his colleagues in exposing the rot in the scheme but made very strong recommendations on how the system could be reformed and made corrupt- free.
“Further to this, during the Senate hearing on the missing $20 billion, for those who attended the public hearing, Saraki led the onslaught of difficult questions to both the Minister of Finance, Minister of Petroleum and other federal agencies despite being in the ruling party then. “To this effect, Senator Saraki refused to sign the final copy of the committee’s report but rather put forward a minority report with a press statement that followed suit.
“Saraki went further to oppose the inclusion of kerosene subsidy in the 2015 budget as well as his opposition to petroleum swop deal by the NNPC.”
The statement said the offensive news item gave a negative and dirty impression that the emergence of the President of the eighth Senate is aimed to sabotage the anti-corruption posture of the Buhari-led federal government.
In view of this, the statement said: “Let it be known therefore that the Senate Presidency of Saraki would not in any way be a stumbling block against President Buhari’s posture against anti-corruption.
“Rather, the eighth Senate under him as the President would give all necessary legislative support to the administration to fight and reduce corruption as his previous actions and bold step taken against the so called oil barons indicates that Saraki is committed to anti corruption.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we want to make it abundantly clear that it is totally false, untrue and calculated mischief to suggest that Saraki’s emergence as senate president was facilitated by oil barons. This is a case of calling the dog a bad name so as to hang it. Another blatant lie that cannot fly.”
The Senators of Like Minds said Saraki was determined and focused to achieve the Senate’s targeted legislative agenda and he is committed to support President Buhari to deliver on his promises to the people of Nigeria.
In view of this, the statement said: “We also wish to state unequivocally that it was wrong and mischievous for the writer of the fictional piece to link what happened on the floor of both chambers to some unnamed ex-ministers of the immediate past administration.
“We dare say that the entire story, detailed as it may seem, was the figment of the imagination of the author. That the story was packed full of insinuations and wild allegations and the writer evaded specificity in the names of the dramatist personae throughout the story smacks of bad journalism.”
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara has reassured, against the backdrop of insinuations that the All Progressives Congress (APC) is enmeshed in squabbles over the defiance that produced himself and the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, that the party is still in control of its affairs.
Dogara gave the assurance while playing host to a delegation of the defunct 2014 Presidential Primaries Committee of the APC which paid him a courtesy call in his office.
According to him, what transpired and culminated in his and Saraki’s elections was not enough to polarise the party, as it was just a conflict of interests between party members desirous of choosing who will be their leaders.
“People talk about crisis in the party, I don’t see any crisis. Even if there is, the party has the capacity to deal with whatever issue pertaining to its members and their interests.
“The crisis being perceived by a section of people in the APC is not a crisis, but simply a conflict of ideas because we are not perfect as we are all products of imperfection,” he added.
He was optimistic that with its control of a comfortable majority in both chambers, the party and the executive are both poised to deliver good governance.
“We thank God that we maintain a comfortable majority and we intend to take advantage of it. We will work with the executive in delivering change to our people without actually compromising the independence ot our institution.
He emphasised that: “We are here to work and we don’t have any reason to fail. We can’t fail. That’s why I pick holes in the ambition of those who have their eyes fixed on 2019.
“We didn’t get here because of 2019. If we do the right things and the people see results, 2019 will take care of itself. We can’t fail because we are here to bring change,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the group, the Secretary of the defunct committee, Dr. Alex Ideye, told the Speaker that the delegation was at his office to congratulate him on his emergence as Speaker of the House.
Ideye urged the Speaker to reciprocate the good gesture of his opponent, Femi Gbajabiamila by carrying everybody along in his leadership of the House with a view to building consensus and achieve legislative harmony.
His words: “We are here to congratulate you on your election as the Speaker of this lower House.”
“We implore you to reciprocate the good gesture of a dogged fighter in the person of our erstwhile Minority leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila for accepting defeat and congratulating you as Speaker after the results were called and declared and for also resolving to work with you.
“We urge you to close ranks and work together so that our party can deliver the change and dividends of democracy for which Nigerians voted,” Ideye said.