The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has replied the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, over his comments accusing the two presiding officers of the National Assembly of budget impropriety.
Mr Dogara accused the APC leader of having a “wayward lust for power” and promoting a “fascist agenda.”
The speaker, gave the response on Tuesday in a statement by his special adviser on media and public affairs, Turaki Hassan.
Mr Tinubu had alleged that Mr Dogara and Senate President Bukola Saraki have been padding Nigeria’s budget since 2015.
“Just look at the way Saraki, Dogara and their ilk hijacked the budget process these past four years,” Mr Tinubu had said in a statement released by Tunde Rahman, his spokesman.
“National budgets were delayed and distorted as these actors repeatedly sought to pad budgets with pet projects that would profit them. Even worse, they cut funds intended to prosper projects that would have benefitted the average person. After four years of their antics halting the progress of government, we should do all we can to prevent a repeat of their malign control of the National Assembly.”
Senate President Bukola Saraki on Monday replied Mr Tinubu. He said it is “unfortunate” that after 22 months in the legislature, Mr Tinubu does “not have a better understanding of how the legislature works”.
“Since we have taken it for granted that Tinubu’s attack on Saraki every three months (quarterly) will come as expected, we would just have ignored his statement but for the fact that it was filled with untruth, fallacies and misrepresentations,” Mr Saraki’s office said. “It is unfortunate that a man like Tinubu who had been in the Senate (though for 22 months and under a military regime) should not have a better understanding of how the legislature works.”
Mr Dogara, in his reaction, asked Mr Tinubu to provide evidence to back his allegations.
“we advise Asiwaju Tinubu to be circumspect in his use of language. In this case, he spoke as a spokesperson of depravity,” Mr Dogara said.
“Our reaction must, therefore, be seen as a provoked counter-punch. Anyone can descend into the gutter if he so wishes but no one has a monopoly of gutter language.”
“We won’t run an adult day care centre anymore on matters like this,” he added.
Mr Dogara restated his view that the National Assembly “is not a rubber stamp parliament” and therefore “reserves the right, working cooperatively with the Executive to interrogate projects unilaterally inserted by the Executive branch without the input of or consultation with Parliament.”
He also queried Mr Tinubu’s academic qualifications, saying: “The legislature cannot be accused of padding a budget it has unquestionable constitutional power to review. The budget is a law and the Executive does not make laws.”
“Therefore, it’s only the ignorant and those who hold dubious academic certificates that say the maker of a document has padded the document that only he can constitutionally make.
“In the words of his lordship, Hon Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High court, in suitNo.FHC/ABJ/CS/259/2014 delivered on March 9, 2016, ‘the National Assembly was not created by drafters of the Constitution and imbued with the powers to receive ‘budget estimates’ which the first defendant is constitutionally empowered to prepare and lay before it, as a rubber stamp parliament.”
Read Mr Dogara’s full statement below.
- Tinubu pursuing facist agenda to control all levers of power in Nigeria- Speaker Dogara
- Only the ignorant with dubious academic certificates will say the maker of a document has padded the document that only he can constitutionally make
We have noted the statement issued on April 21, 2019 by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu wherein he stated his reasons for sponsoring or supporting some aspirants to various leadership positions in the forthcoming 9th Assembly. Ordinarily, this would not have elicited any response from His Excellency, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon Yakubu Dogara, as Asiwaju is entitled to sponsor those he believes will have no choice but answer to his dog whistles anytime he blows same in his capacity as the self acclaimed National Leader of his party.
2. If Asiwaju had confined his intervention to stubborn facts, this response would not have been necessary. He, however, used the opportunity to manufacture falsehoods and paint a non-existing picture of the stewardship of Mr Speaker and the work of the 8th House of Representatives under his watch. It is therefore, incumbent on us to set the records straight for posterity.
3. Asiwaju Tinubu accused the leadership of the National Assembly of stymieing “the APC legislative initiatives while attempting to hoist noxious reactionary and self interested legislation on the nation”. He said further: “Just look at the way Saraki and Dogara and their ilk hijacked the Budget Process these past four years. National budgets were delayed and distorted as these actors repeatedly sought to pad budgets with pet projects that would profit them”. He continued, “Even worse, they cut funds intended to prosper projects that would have benefited the average person. After four years of their antics halting the progress of government, we should do all we can to prevent a repeat of their malign control of the National Assembly”. He generously used the usual unexplained words like installing a progressive leadership and so on.
4. We do not expect Asiwaju Tinubu to dwell on brazen mendacity, much less murder facts and decorum in his rabid bid to justify his patently clear facist agenda of controlling all levers of power in Nigeria. Asiwaju Tinubu’s nocturnal agenda has no parallel in the history of any democracy and it is more loathsome when he throws caution to the winds and maligns government officials who are doing a yeoman’s job of stabilising the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, even in spite of political differences.
5. It is on record that the Rt. Hon. Speaker has done more to stabilize this government more than Asiwaju Tinubu and his ilk whose stock in trade is scheming, manipulation and subversion especially when they feel they cannot be caught. When the history of Buhari’s administration is written by those who know the truth of what really transpired in the last four years, Asiwaju’s pretentious loyalty to President Buhari will then be exposed. We won’t say more but no matter how long it may last, the truth will one day overtake lies. Perhaps, Asiwaju is still bitter about the leadership contest for Speakership of the 8th Assembly, even though the actors have moved on culminating in Speaker Dogara magnanimously facilitating the appointment of his opponent in the race and Tinubu’s protege as House Majority leader.
6. The chief cause of delay in enacting the budget is the persistent refusal or neglect of the Executive to present it in good time.
For the records, in the last four years, there was no urgency or plan by the Executive to achieve a January to December budget cycle. For the avoidance of doubt, we will show the dates the Budget estimates were submitted by the Executive in the last four years below.
– 2016 Budget was submitted on December 22, 2015, exactly nine days to the end of the year.
– 2017 Budget submitted on December 14,2016, just 17 days to the end of the year.
– 2018 Budget was presented on November 7, 2017, the earliest even though it also fell short of the 90 days stipulated by the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
– 2019 budget was presented on December 19, 2018 exactly 12 days to the end of the year.
As if the late or delayed submission of budget estimates wasn’t enough, in most cases, Ministers and heads of agencies contributed to the so-called delay by consistently refusing to appear before National Assembly Standing Committees to defend their budget proposals in line with the provision of the Law. At some point, the leadership of the National Assembly had to take up the issue with the President who advised his Ministers to honour legislative invitations to defend their budgets.
7. What Nigerians don’t know is that the Executive, through the various Ministries, continued to propose additional projects to be included in the 2018 budget even as at April and May of 2018 which further delayed the passage of the 2018 budget. These were communicated officially and if anyone is in doubt, we will exhibit the letters with the dates they were written and received. In any case, the National Assembly inserted a clause in the Appropriation Bill consistent with S.318 of the Constitution which allowed the Budget to last for 12 months after Mr President’s Assent. This enabled the Executive to spend more of the capital component of the Budget as it still had 12 months protected by law.
8. As an activist legislature, the National Assembly effected an amendment to S. 81(1) of the Constitution to compel Mr President to present the Budget estimates not later than 90 days to the end of a financial year in order to solve this problem but unfortunately, very unfortunately, Mr President declined assent to the bill which was passed by both the National Assembly and over 2/3rds of the State Assemblies.
9. The National Assembly made a further attempt to make the Budget process much better by improving the institutional capacity of the Parliament to process and pass National budgets by passing the National Assembly Budget and Research Office (NABRO) Establishment Bill into law. It was loosely modelled after the American Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Again, Mr President declined assent to the Bill.
10. It is important to emphasize that the National Assembly is not a Rubber Stamp Parliament and reserves the right, working cooperatively with the Executive to interrogate projects unilaterally inserted by the Executive branch without the input of or consultation with Parliament. The legislature cannot be accused of padding a Budget it has unquestionable constitutional power to review. The Budget is a law and the Executive does not make laws. Therefore, it’s only the ignorant and those who hold dubious academic certificates that say the maker of a document has padded the document that only he can constitutionally make. In the words of his lordship, Hon Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High court, in suit No.FHC/ABJ/CS/259/2014 delivered on March 9, 2016, “the National Assembly was not created by drafters of the Constitution and imbued with the powers to receive ‘budget estimates’ which the first defendant is constitutionally empowered to prepare and lay before it, as a rubber stamp parliament. The whole essence of the budget estimates being required to be laid before Parliament is to enable it, being the Assembly of the representatives of the people, to debate the said budget proposals and to make its own well informed legislative inputs into it.”
11. The parliamentarians are representatives of the Nigerian people and you don’t expect them to rubber stamp budgets that are heavily skewed and lopsided against most sections of the country. It is their responsibility to ensure equitable and even distribution of capital projects across all the nooks and crannies of the country, if the Executive fails to do so. In any case, it is false to state that legislative intervention in the Budget Process is to benefit the legislators and not their constituencies. We challenge Asiwaju Tinubu to prove otherwise. He should also show in what way the 8th Assembly acted differently from other Assemblies of the past to warrant the kind of language used. In any case, all the aspirants to the Senate Presidency and Speakership he is sponsoring are majority leaders in the 8th Assembly and took part in the Budget Process that he made the chief basis of his crude attack. This proves beyond doubt the hypocrisy of Asiwaju’s stated reasons for supporting his candidates. He should find better reasons other than the lies being peddled about the Budget and obstructing government business. Asiwaju shouldn’t take better informed Nigerians for fools. Otherwise, when he sought to take control of the 8th Senate and 8th House in 2015, was it because of any Budget Saraki and Dogara had delayed or pet projects they had inserted into any Budget before 2015? Asiwaju must come clean on this matter. He should let Nigerians know why he wants to install both the Senate President, the Speaker and leadership of the 9th Assembly. He may yet win the support of some of them if he comes clean on this matter.
12. The 8th National Assembly is on record to have supported Mr President’s requests on critical issues of governance. We backed him by Resolution on the issue of fuel subsidy, we backed him on the National Minimum wage, even though we were more sympathetic to workers’ rights. In security matters, we never cut any proposal from Mr President save our refusal to rubber stamp a clear constitutional overreach of spending $1 billion in arms purchase without appropriation. We have passed more Bills than any Assembly before us including Bills that are helping the government improve the ease of doing business in Nigeria, and there were times we passed Bills within 2 legislative days. Is Tinubu genuinely ignorant of all these?
13. We challenge Asiwaju Tinubu to list out the Bills he claimed were not passed by the National Assembly. The oil and gas or petroleum sector is the most important and critical sector of our economy which accounts for over 70 percent of our earnings, the Executive didn’t forward a single Bill to the National Assembly to reform and reposition the sector in the last four years even when repeatedly urged to do so by Mr Speaker in his first year in office. The lawmakers waited in vain and had to take the bold initiative of crafting a Bill – Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PGIB) among others, passed it in record time and transmitted same to Mr President for assent. This Bill was vetoed without an alternative Legal framework proposed by the Executive. Did Asiwaju miss this also?
14. Asiwaju Tinubu should mention the so-called bills the Executive sent to the National Assembly and were delayed to show he is a man of honour or forever keep his peace.
Could someone also challenge Asiwaju to list all the “ noxious reactionary and self interested legislation on the nation”? Can he name the bills that are reactionary and not in the national interest? Is this how wayward lust for power blinds the reasoning of people we should ordinarily respect? Is it not most unfair, unpatriotic and wicked for Asiwaju Tinubu to have resorted to factoids in promoting his known fascist agenda which he mistakenly thinks he is keeping secret.
15. Finally, we advise Asiwaju Tinubu to be circumspect in his use of language. In this case, he spoke as a spokesperson of depravity. Our reaction must therefore be seen as a provoked counter-punch. Any one can descend into the gutter if he so wishes but no one has a monopoly of gutter language. We won’t run an adult day care centre anymore on matters like this.
Maina: Court Grants Ndume Bail
The Federal High Court in Abuja has granted bail to the Borno South Senator, Ali Ndume, who has been detained in prison since Monday over his suretyship for Abdulrasheed Maina believed to have jumped bail.
Justice Okon Abang in a ruling on Friday said he chose to grant the senator bail based on his record of good behaviour before the court, notwithstanding that the other grounds of his bail application failed.
The judge granted bail to the senator pending the hearing and determination of Ndume’s appeal filed at the Court of Appeal to challenge Monday’s order sending him to jail for his inability to produce the fleeing Maina.
He ordered the senator to produce one surety who must be a resident of Abuja and present evidence of ownership of property anywhere in Abuja.
According to the judge, the surety must also depose to an affidavit of means to indicate his readiness to forfeit the bail guaranty should the senator jump bail.
The judge also ordered the senator to deposit his passport with the Chief Registrar of the court.
He also ordered the lawmaker to file an undertaking that he would compile records of appeal and transmit it to the Court of Appeal within 10 days, a way the court wants him to demonstrate his readiness to prosecute his appeal.
Maina, a former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reformed Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, is being prosecuted by the EFCC on charges of money laundering involving N2bn.
On November 18, 2020, Justice Abang revoked the bail granted him, ordered his arrest, and directed that his trial would proceed in absentia.
The judge also on Monday remanded Ndume in prison until he produced Maina or paid the sum of N500m bail bond to the Federation Account.
Ndume, through his lawyer, Marcel Oru, had on Tuesday filed an appeal against the remand order at the Court of Appeal, along with an application for the bail of the defendant filed before Justice Abang.
Trump Gives Condition to Vacate White House
United States President Donald Trump says he will relinquish power if the Electoral College affirms Democrat Joe Biden’s win but he signals he may never formally concede defeat, Bloomberg reports.
The 74-year-old Republican candidate, who lost his re-election bid, also declined to say if he would attend Biden’s inauguration next year, as is the custom for an outgoing president. “I’ll be honest, I know the answer, but I just don’t want to say it yet,” he said, adding that it is “not right” that Biden has begun picking a cabinet.
Trump fielded questions from reporters on Thursday for the first time since his election defeat, speaking at the White House after a Thanksgiving teleconference with members of the military.
When asked by reporter gathered at the White House’s diplomatic room if he would physically leave the building should the Electoral College affirms Biden’s victory, Trump replied, “certainly I will, and you know that.” But he swiftly maintained that there was “massive fraud and massive rigging” in the election, insisting that the court cases challenging the election outcome will continue.
Trump was further pressed on whether he would ever acknowledge defeat but said it would “be a very hard thing to concede,” even if the Electoral College confirms Biden’s victory. “If they do, they’ve made a mistake,” he said. “This election was a fraud.”
The Electoral College electors in each state are due to vote on December 14. Certificates recording the electoral vote results in each state must be received by the president of the Senate no later than December 23. Biden is certified as the winner, or leading, in states totaling 306 electoral votes, well above the victory threshold of 270, while Trump got 232 electoral votes.
Trump further noted that he was running out of time to present evidence of the massive fraud he was sketching out – a signal that the evidence may never come.
He also acknowledged that the whole world is watching what becomes the fate of American democracy. “The whole world is watching and the whole world is laughing at our electoral process,” he said.
Trump, however, declined to say if he would seek the presidency again in 2024, as has been widely rumoured. “I don’t want to talk about 2024 yet,” he replied.
The PUNCH had earlier reported that major world leaders including those from China, United Kingdom, France, Canada, Germany and other European as well as African States congratulated Biden and his vice-president-elect, Kamala Harris, after US cable networks projected the two winners of the keenly contested election.
Sultan Laments Free Operation of Bandits in North, Says Region Worst Place to Live
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, on Thursday lamented the high rate of insecurity in the North, saying it was the worst place in the country to live.
The Sultan, who stated this at the fourth quarterly meeting of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council in Abuja, said bandits were fast overrunning the North as residents slept with their eyes open.
The meeting had as its theme, ‘Questioning for peace in the challenges of insecurity and COVID-19’
While describing the North as the worst place to live, he said that bandits had become daring.
He said they moved from house to house, village to village, market to market, with AK-47 rifles openly, purchasing foodstuffs and other items and even collecting change without any challenge from the security agencies.
The foremost traditional ruler stated that the security system in the North had completely collapsed.
He said, “Security situation in Northern Nigeria has assumed a worrisome situation. Few weeks ago, over 76 persons were killed in a community in Sokoto in a day. I was there with the governor to commiserate with the affected community.
“Unfortunately, you don’t hear these stories in the media because it’s in the North. We have accepted the fact that the North does not have strong media to report the atrocities of these bandits.
“People think North is safe but that assumption is not true. In fact, it’s the worst place to be in this country because bandits go around in the villages, households and markets with their AK 47 and nobody is challenging them.
“They stop at the market, buy things, pay and collect change, with their weapons openly displayed. These are facts, I know because I am at the centre of it.
“I am not only a traditional ruler, I am also a religious leader. So, I am in a better place to tell the story. I can speak for the North in this regard because I am fully aware of the security challenges there. We have to sincerely and seriously find solutions to the problem, otherwise, we will find ourselves soon, in a situation where we would lose sleep because of insecurity.”
The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, Ignatius Kaigama, outlined a code of conduct for both Christians and Muslims in Nigeria.
He said, “We Christians and Muslims must avoid imposing our religious views on others or denying them public amenities, jobs or influential positions because they don’t belong to our faith.
“Merit, not the vigour of our religious piety or affiliation should determine all we do or get in this country. We should not unjustly or corruptly deprive others of their rights, not to talk of wounding or killing anyone for economic or partisan political interests or because of blind religious zeal.
“It is preposterous that Nigerians clamouring for their rights and privileges from government would turn their anger on religious institutions by attacking Churches and Mosques, instigating Christians and Muslims to turn against one another or to destroy public amenities and infrastructure
“We understand that the budget for national and state security is huge. Let us not deceive ourselves that the bigger the budget the more peace will flow. Weapons don’t bring peace.
What we need is a change of attitude, a conversion of heart; an objective appraisal of the religious or ethnic indoctrination we perhaps were subjected to in schools or at home. If we are only propelled by religious interests that exclude others we shall always remain in chaos and darkness.
The President, Christian Association of Nigeria and co-Chairman of NIREC, Dr Samson Ayokunle, while thanking God for saving the nation from the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to other countries, urged government to always tackle problem before it degenerated.
He asked the government to quickly reverse the recent decision to hike the price of electricity and fuel.
Ayokunle said, “That’s not what we send them to do for us. The decision, evidently, has added to our pains and they should reverse it as quickly as possible.
“The development that led to #EndSARS protest was quite unfortunate, and one of that development is police brutality which ought to be addressed before now.
“We have never witnessed such a mass action in Nigeria before. People were frustrated and because those in power didn’t respond appropriately until it degenerated to that level.
“But attributing the actions of the angry youths to a particular religion or ethnic group is insincere and unsafe. No religious group was exempted from the effect of the protest. The action was a spontaneous action that cannot be attributed to any religion or ethnic group.”
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, regretted that the nation was still faced with insecurity despite the government’s efforts.
“Today, despite all efforts including the deployment of enormous resources, our country still faces a measure of insecurity which is impacting negatively on our economy, social life, education of children and young persons, investment and remains a threat to lives and livelihood,” he said.