By Adebayo Hassan
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, have separately responded to a blistering statement by leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Bisi Akande, who condemned their emergence as leaders of the National Assembly.
Mr. Akande had said Messrs. Saraki and Dogara were backed by fuel subsidy thieves and business cartels, to become senate president and House speaker, to frustrate the anti-corruption plan of the Buhari administration.
Mr. Akande, on Sunday, said the elections of Messrs Saraki and Dogara were bankrolled and supported by “Most Northern elite, the Nigerian oil subsidy barons and other business cartels, who never liked Buhari’s anti-corruption political stance. . .”
In their separate reactions, Monday, Messrs Saraki and Dogara described Mr. Akande’s statement as “malicious”, “false”, “uncharitable”, and “mischievous”.
They both maintained that corrupt oil barons could never support them given their antecedents in the 7th Assembly.
‘I EXPOSED FRAUD IN THE OIL SECTOR’ – SARAKI
In his reaction, contained in a statement through his media aide, Bankole Omishore, Mr. Saraki said but for his efforts, the public might not have known the rot, fraud and mismanagement in the Nigerian oil sector.
“Again, the attention of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki has been drawn to a malicious, false and totally reprehensible news report, wherein it insinuated that the election of Dr. Bukola Saraki as the Senate President of the 8th Senate was facilitated by Nigerians associated with dubious claims in the infamous oil subsidy.
“The news report went further to give a negative and dirty impression that the emergence of the President of the 8th Senate is aimed to sabotage the anti-corruption posture of President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government as well as sabotage the ‘Change agenda’ of the All Progressive Congress (APC),” the statement read.
It continued, “One of such desperate attempts to justify this blackmail and others was the story published in newspapers of Monday June 29 2015 as contained in a statement issued by the former Interim National Chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande.
“We dare say that the entire story was the figment of the imagination of the author.
We make bold to state that in the 7th Assembly, Senator Bukola Saraki was Chairman of the Senate Adhoc 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 or took any action. Therefore, surely, Senator Saraki will be the last person the oil baron will want to see as Senate President.”
“No doubt, we make bold to state that Saraki is the last person to be so sponsored by the oil barons or cabals.
“In that position, 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.
“It is on records that through his motion on the floor of the Senate, the House of Representatives followed in what is to be known as Oil subsidy probe and to which Ministers of Finance and Petroleum summoned and at last over, N500 billion was saved. Certainly, Senator Saraki is the last person to be so sponsored by the oil barons or cabals,” the statement added.
The statement read further, “during the Senate hearing on the missing $20 Billion, for those who attended the public hearing, Senator 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 follow 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 NNPC. Let it be known therefore that the Senate Presidency of Dr. Bukola Saraki would not in any way be a stumbling block against President Buhari’s posture against anti-corruption.”
He pledged that the 8th 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 avoidance of doubt, we want to make it abundantly clear that it is totally false, untrue and calculated mischief to suggest that Senator 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 lies that cannot fly. In any case, Senator Saraki was elected unopposed as the Senate President, therefore the lies that he was sponsored by the oil barons cannot hold.
“Senator Bukola Saraki is determined and focused to achieve the Senate targeted legislative agenda and he is committed to support President Buhari to deliver on his promises to the people of Nigeria.”
Dogara Says He Is Committed To Complementing Buhari’s Agenda
Also, in his response, through his media aide, Hassan Turaki, Mr. Dogara challenged Mr. Akande to name the so-called oil barons whom he alleged sponsored his election.
Denying link with corrupt oil barons, the statement added that “In case Chief Akande does not know, the first investigative motion adopted by the 8th House of Representatives under the leadership of the Rt. Hon. Speaker was to investigate the allegation of fraud in the oil-swap contract awarded by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
“A resolution instituting investigation into the allegation was passed with a resolve to constitute an Ad-hoc committee to investigate the NNPC, as well as its subsidiary, Pipelines and Products Marketing Company over the swap contracts.
“How then can the House under the leadership of Mr. Speaker order investigation into activities of those who allegedly sponsored his election? Chief Akande`s allegation is both unfortunate and uncharitable.”
Mr. Dogara said he had displayed his commitment to complement Mr. Buhari’s anti-corruption agenda, since assuming office as the Speaker.
“What we expect the Chief to do at this critical time in the life of our nation and the APC as a party is to play the role of an elder-statesman and help to bring warring party members to the table and not ignite crisis that will further divide the party that he helped to build.
“Since assuming duty as Speaker, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara has not left anyone in doubt as to his stance on corruption which is the bane of Nigeria`s development.
“Thus, he presented the draft legislative agenda of the 8th Assembly to the House last week which among other things proposed legislations that will help fight corruption.”
“Mr. Speaker has on different occasions reiterated his resolve to compliment President Buhari`s anti-corruption stance and insists that the present crop of leaders don’t have any excuse to give to Nigerians on the change promised them before and during the election that brought APC into power,” the statement said.
He said his “antecedence, capacity, experience, being a team player, incorruptibility and progressive mind and activities” were the qualities that endeared him to his colleagues.
“These were the selling points among members-elect that made him to be elected Speaker.
“Therefore, the allegation by Chief Akande is unbecoming of a well-respected elder-stateman and a former Interim National Chairman of the APC.
“It is baseless and lacking in substance and merit and can best be described as figment of Chief Akande`s imagination.
“We call on all Nigerians and the general public to disregard such allegations as they are meant to distract the new leadership of the legislature from concentrating on passing legislations that will help to fight poverty, insecurity, infrastructural decay, and to revive our economy,” said the statement.