Senators of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), have threatened a showdown with their colleagues of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), over the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki.
They warned the APC that “they will meet a match in those of us in PDP if they try to foment trouble in the Senate whenever we resume.
“They have made many attempts to subvert this Senate, including stealing of our mace, brutaliszing of members of staff of the Senate, invasion of the Senate complex with hooded and masked security agents, refusal to sign important bills, using security agents and anti-corruption agencies to intimidate members and the leadership as well as initiating malicious prosecution against members.”
This came in a statement jointly made available to newsmen in Abuja by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Navy, Senator Isah Hamma Misau and his counterpart in the Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions, Senator Rafiu Adebayo Ibrahim.
The duo affirmed that the manner in which the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) left all issues which should get serious attention from the ruling party and focused on attacking Saraki had made the Senate President the issue in Nigerian politics.
The lawmakers also queried whether the APC was being fair to Nigeria by focusing on one individual and making him the subject of all discussions instead of telling Nigerians what the party had done in the last 38 months that it had been in power.
Part of the statement read: “This is the first time in the history of the country that the ruling party will leave the issue of its achievements and start blaming its failure on just one individual, no matter who the individual is. It is also the first time a ruling party will plan to hoodwink Nigerians by saying everything wrong under its watch is due to the action and inaction of one man.
“APC has devoted all the time and knowledge of their national chairman, national leader, publicity Secretary, four senators and two presidential aides to the daily abuse of Saraki, such that it appears as if Saraki is the only politician in Nigeria today. They have made Saraki the issue in Nigerian politics today.
“If these individuals devote the energy they are exerting on Saraki to finding solutions to the security problem, economic crisis and collapse of infrastructure, among them, they will come out with some action plan, except they are only skillful in mischief making.
“We can see through this plot. The plan is to get Saraki so engrossed in the battle for survival in the Senate and the pummelling from the APC cabal such that he will have no time to pursue his aspiration for 2019. However, this is a short time strategy. It will not work. That is why the man remains unfazed by the antics.
“We are surprised that all the decisions that the Senate took as an institution is now blamed on Saraki.
“Are we also going to give the credit of all the achievements of the Senate to Saraki as well? The laws that have been signed by the President and which led to the World Bank improving the rating of Nigeria in the Ease of Doing Business Report, the Petroleum Industry Governance Bills which broke the jinx of over 14 years on the law, the progressive constitution amendment bills, the five anti-corruption laws, and many others, as well as the fact that the 8th Senate has done better than the previous ones in terms of number of bills passed, the petitions successfully treated and the various interventions: will all these be credited to Saraki and not the entire Senate?
“You blame a man for what an institution lawfully did. Is this not dishonest? Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, who moved the motion for our adjournment till September 25 and the Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio who seconded the motion are in APC, yet they kept quiet when all the falsehood are being peddled now that Saraki unilaterally and hurriedly adjourn the Senate.
“These Senators kept quiet about their roles simply because they want to be good boys. When the motion for adjournment was carried by voice vote, no dissenting voice was heard.
“Many people who are grandstanding now do not care how history will record their roles. How can those who play key roles in the Senate now turn round and be blaming everything on one man? Is Saraki now a superman?
“Is he not just one Senator like each and every one of us? Let us play back all the tape records of the Senate proceedings. Which of the decisions that are now being criticized did the APC pretenders in the Senate oppose? Of the 10-man Senate leadership, five of them are in APC. Those who enjoy privileges in the Senate now look the other way when the Presidency is complaining.
“We abide by the principle of collective responsibility. This Eighth Senate under Saraki has done well. It has set a standard that the legislature should not be an appendage of the executive. It is an independent arm of government. Both arms need to extend the hands of fellowship to each other and the duty to work for co-operation does not lie on just one of them”.
Meanwhile, the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, has assured the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would defeat President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 elections.
Saraki, who spoke in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, during a harmonisation summit for the PDP members and those who recently defected to the party from the APC, added that he was hopeful that the PDP would emerge victorious in the state.
Saraki said, “In 2019, the PDP will produce the President. If we emerge victorious at the federal level, all of us will be the beneficiaries. In the state, with your support, we will win the state too.
“All of you here are the key players in Kwara politics. With the unity of purpose, no party can contest with you. We are here to unite all of us under the party we belong to today.
“I am assuring all members that there will be equity, internal democracy and justice. It is not going to be a winner takes all. As far as I am concerned, everybody here today belongs to our political structure. There is nothing like old or new PDP. We have all become one PDP.
“There is nobody here that will not say, one way or the other; we have not been together before. I am very sure that the future is bigger and brighter than in the past. I want all of us and the development of Kwara State.
“As per the politics of the state, nobody can wrest power from us if we are united. By the grace of God, in the forthcoming elections, we will emerge victorious both at the federal and state levels. We will ensure that we work as one party because we have always worked together before.”
The Senate President said he did not have anointed candidates, adding that there would be transparency and inclusiveness in the choice of candidates for different political offices.
He also said he had not endorsed any candidate and appealed to party leaders not to use his name to impose unpopular politicians as candidates on the party.
He stated that he did not have a candidate for the National Assembly, adding that he and the party members would jointly choose the next governor of the state.
Saraki said, “We will see that all the wards and local governments’ popular candidates emerge based on their popularity and acceptability. I want to emphasise that I don’t have any anointed candidate at any level. I don’t have candidates for the state assembly; it is the person you want in your constituency that I will approve. Don’t allow anybody to deceive you that I have endorsed any candidate.
“I implore party leaders and elders not to drop my name to impose unpopular candidates. I don’t have a candidate for the National Assembly. All of us will collectively choose the next governor. We will ensure that there is no faction but one PDP. We will ensure that meetings in the local government areas take place in one venue. And we will all work together for the interest of the party.
“I want to assure you all that, as far as I am concerned, everybody belongs to one PDP family and there is no favouritism of one man over the other.”
He stated that he was hopeful that many of those who defected from the PDP to the APC when he returned to his PDP would return to the party.
The Senate President said those who defected from the PDP to the APC when he returned left under a wrong assumption. He promised that everybody would have a sense of belonging.
Saraki urged both old and new members of the party to ensure peace and harmony in their wards and local government areas.
The former governor said, “Please, go back home to start the work. I am sure many more will come back and join us because those that left did so under the wrong assumption that it would be different from what it used to be. They were misled that those coming were out to move them away.
“Nobody is moving you away because this place belongs to you too. Let us go back and start work closely together and, by the grace of God, we will all be victorious.”
Money We’re Spending On Cancer Hospital Justified -Wike
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has declared that the money his administration is spending on the Dr. Peter Odili Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease Diagnostic and Treatment Centre in the state is not a misplaced priority.
The governor made the assertion, yesterday, when he visited the project site at Rumuokuta in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, to inspect the progress of work done already.
Wike said that no amount of money spent in putting in place facilities that will secure the health of all residents in the state will be considered a waste.
“I’m very happy that the money we have spent here is not a misplaced priority. The healthcare of our people is important to us.
“It will save the time people travel overseas for cancer treatment. I think it will be something every Nigerians will be happy with. Here will be like a tourist centre. It has helipad, and doctors’ quarters. In case of emergency, they will fly in helicopter to this place and doctors who stay here will attend to them.”
The governor explained that the State government decided to build doctors’ quarters within the precincts of the Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease Diagnostic and Treatment Centre so that no doctor will claim he is unable to attend to patients timely, particularly in emergency situations, because of distance of where he stays to the hospital.
The governor expressed satisfaction with the pace of work done in view of the gigantic nature of the project and the difficult topography that requires massive piling.
“We have confidence in Julius Berger and having come here today, I think they are on schedule. We are happy with the level of work.
“It’s not a job you must rush. They are taking their time to make sure they give the citizens of the state the best and to Nigerians in general.
“You knows it is a specialist hospital, the first of its kind in this country. We are quite comfortable and confident that by end of July 2022, they would have handed over this very important project to the State.”
The Regional Manager of Julius Berger Nigeria PLC, Juergen Fischer, said they are conscious of the promise they have made to the governor to deliver the project as agreed.
Already, he noted, the milestone achieved has surpassed what was initially expected because they have done ground piling and concluded the critical baseline underground structural work done.
“You can be sure that by the end of July as we promised his excellency, we will deliver this hospital. We are a little bit ahead of schedule even in the rainy season.”
US Lawmakers Stop $875m Defence Equipment Sale To Nigeria
The United States lawmakers are holding down a proposed sale of attack helicopters to Nigeria amid mounting concerns about President Muhammadu Buhari government’s human rights record as it grapples with multiple security crises.
US lawmakers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have reportedly delayed clearing a proposed sale of 12 AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters and accompanying defence systems to the Nigerian military.
The deal is worth $875million, according to US officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter.
In addition to the helicopters, the proposed sale includes 28 helicopter engines produced by GE Aviation, 14 military-grade aircraft navigation systems made by Honeywell, and 2,000 advanced precision kill weapon systems—laser-guided rocket munitions, according to information sent by the State Department to Congress and reviewed by ‘Foreign Policy’ magazine.
A report by ‘Foreign Policy’, last Tuesday, said the behind-the-scenes controversy over the proposed arms sale illustrates a broader debate among Washington policymakers over how to balance national security with human rights objectives.
The hold on the sale also showcases how powerful US lawmakers want to push President Joseph Biden administration to rethink US relations with Nigeria amid overarching concerns that Buhari is drifting toward authoritarianism as his government is besieged by multiple security challenges, including the Boko Haram insurgency.
But Western governments and international human rights organisations have ramped up their criticisms of the Buhari regime, particularly in the wake of its ban on Twitter, systemic corruption issues, and the Nigerian military’s role in deadly crackdowns on #EndSARS protesters, last October.
The Chairperson of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Menendez, called for a “fundamental rethink of the framework of our overall engagement” with Nigeria during a Senate hearing with US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken in June.
Both Menendez and Sen. Jim Risch, a top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have placed a hold on the proposed arms sale, according to multiple US officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter, who spoke to ‘Foreign Policy’ on condition of anonymity.
The details on the proposed sale were first sent by the US State Department to Congress in January before then-former Vice President Joe Biden was inaugurated as president, according to officials familiar with the matter.
Nigeria has just received six out of the 12 Tucano jet fighters purchased from the US Government.
Some experts said the United States should hit the pause button on major defence sales until it makes a broader assessment of the extent to which corruption and mismanagement hobble the Nigerian military, and whether the military is doing enough to minimize civilian casualties in its campaign against Boko Haram and other violent insurrectionists.
Administration officials say they are tired of regular efforts by Capitol Hill to review arms sales to some countries.
“There doesn’t have to be a reason why we don’t provide weapons or equipment to the Nigerian military,” the Director of the Africa Programme at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank, Judd Devermont, said.
“But it has to be done with an assessment of how it will actually, one, change the direction of conflict in Nigeria, and, two, that they will use it consistent with our laws. In both cases, it’s either a question mark or a fail.
“There is a culture of impunity that exists around abuses by the military,” Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch, Anietie Ewang, said.
Ewang cited the Nigerian military’s killing of unarmed protesters during the massive #EndSARS demonstrations against police corruption and brutality last year as well as cases documented by human rights organizations of abuses in the military’s campaign against Boko Haram.
“I’m sure it’s a difficult situation. There are so many conflicts springing up across the country now,” Ewang said.
“The authorities, I presume, are trying to do the best they can to save lives and properties. But this must be done in accordance with human rights standards. You can’t throw one out just to be able to achieve the other.”
Nigerians Waiting To Elect PDP In 2023, Atiku Claims
The former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar says Nigerians are waiting eagerly for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) to take over power at the federal level in 2023.
Speaking to journalists at the Rivers State Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday, Atiku said his meeting with the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike was fruitful.
Atiku explained that party affairs brought him to Port Harcourt, and he had spent the time reconciling touching issues with the governor.
According to him, the issues bother on how to ensure unity and stability in the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), that are critical for the party in clinching electoral victory in 2003.
“Well, I came here to reconcile with the governor on party affairs and how we can ensure that there is unity and stability in the party, so, that we can take over government in 2023. I believe that Nigerians can’t wait for 2023 to come, so that PDP will return.”
Speaking on the current insecurity challenges that have overwhelmed the capability of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government, Atiku described the prevailing situation in the country as bad.
He urged Nigerians to wait for the appropriate time when PDP shall unveil its policies on how it wants to address the issue of insecurity across the country.
“I have never seen it (insecurity) this bad. I am 70 years plus, I have never seen it this bad in terms of security challenges, in terms of economy, in terms of unemployment. This is the worst.
“Why can’t you give us time? We will come up with our policies. We will present them to Nigerians when the time comes.
“We have done that before. Under PDP, we recorded the highest economic growth, the best foreign reserves, we reduced unemployment. You know that we can do it”.
The former vice president also acknowledged the tremendous leadership success recorded by Wike, who he described as a topmost governor among his peers in the party.
“I think he (Wike) is the topmost governor we have in the party. There is no doubt about that in terms of projects, youth empowerment and employment; in terms of security. Yes, we have security challenges all over the country.”
He further commended the governor for his outstanding leadership and sterling performance in office.
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