The Federal Government said on Sunday that the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki frustrated the development projects of the government and delayed the passage of budgets by the National Assembly.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed who made the allegation in an interaction with newsmen said that Saraki had been responsible for frustrating the pace of government projects through deliberate delay of the annual budgets.
The Senate President has, however, fired back, declaring that the Federal Government, through Mohammed, was concocting lies against him.
The Minister also denied the security siege on the Senate President’s home two weeks ago saying that the report was fake news adding that nothing like that happened.
He further denied claims by Saraki that he did not get any appointments in the Buhari government, while also denying claims
credited to the Sokoto State Governor, Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal that his state was starved of Federal Government projects.
Mohammed said: “We have a National Assembly in which we had a clear majority in both houses but which treated the Executive with contempt and who actually slowed down the work of government. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, our budgets were delayed.
We can understand the 2015 budget because we came in, in the middle of the year. But 2016, 2017, the earliest we got our budgets was June.
“Key appointments, nominations and confirmations for key organizations that could move the government forward like the CBN, like the NDIC, were delayed. Really, it couldn’t have been worse if the PDP had a majority in the National Assembly.”
“The fundamental thing is that for us, it would have been better that they left a long time earlier because they have strangulated this government for too long. When you are now being betrayed by your own party is more painful because we can’t fight back as much as we want to fight back.
“I just want to establish that the foundation of what you are seeing today was laid as far back as the day he became Senate President.”
Saraki, in a reaction by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said that the Federal Government was concocting stories against the Senate President adding that the Minister has always said untrue things about him.
He said: “I am surprised that a man who speaks for the government will be spewing forth blatant lies like Alhaji Lai Mohammed is doing. No wonder people do not believe him when he speaks about government policies. Now, Mr. Mohammed has a new obsession and game – to be concocting lies against Saraki.”
Lai Mohammed described the siege on Saraki’s home as a hoax, adding: “It was fake news, it didn’t happen. I called the IG and the Police PRO went on television that it was not true. In this age of fake news, you could manipulate a picture in a manner that something that happened somewhere could be transported here.”
Lai Mohammed further stated that the exit of Saraki from the APC amounted to independence for the people of Kwara State.
He said: “As far as the people of Kwara State are concerned, it was as if finally, the state was being liberated. The excitement today in Kwara State is akin to how Nigeria felt on the eve of Independence.
“The moment he joined the APC, the former ACN, former ANPP, former CPC members who are in APC, many of them left APC because they could not be in the same camp with him. So what we are witnessing today in Kwara State is like a liberation and from the support, I have received so far including the entire leadership of the party led by the Chairman, Akogun Oyedepo Iyiola who met with me and the National Chairman with 17 other leaders including Professor Oba Abdulraheem, Senator S.S
Ajibola, all the three Senatorial district chairmen of the PDP in the state gives me confidence that Saraki’s days in dominating Kwara politics are limited.
I also met with the 16 PDP candidates in the last local government elections in my hometown in Oro on Monday and those 16 candidates actually claimed they won the Local Government elections but something is clear they changed the status quo.”
Also speaking on the allegations by the Senate President that he did not get any appointment from the Federal Government, Lai Mohammed said: “I think it is a blatant lie that Kwara State was not considered in appointments. There are 26 appointees to boards, parastatals, either as members or DG to Kwara State and of these 26, I recommended only two. The other 24 were done by Dr. Bukola Saraki.
“In terms of development, the arterial road of Ilorin, Jebba, Mokwa, Birnin Gwari road is 80 per cent completed. It is one of the major roads that link the state. On the other hand, it is this same government that awarded the contract for Lokoja-Omu Aran-Ilorin road.
In terms of housing, we are building many two bedroom houses in Ilorin. Again, in terms of appointment, one of the chairmen of
parastatals, is the out-gone chairman of APC, Ishola Balogun Fulani. So it is a blatant lie.”
Special Adviser (Media and Publicity to Senate President) to the Senate President, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said that the allegations by Lai Mohammed were not surprising to Saraki.
He stated: “I am surprised that a man who speaks for the government will be spewing forth blatant lies like Alhaji Lai Mohammed is doing. No wonder people do not believe him when he speaks about government policies. Now, Mr. Mohammed has a new obsession and game – to be concocting lies against Saraki.
His claims are making Saraki appear like a superman. The one Senator who can decide for 108 colleagues, among whom he is merely a first among equals, a primus inter pares. Mohammed because of his ignorance about how the legislature works, thinks that the Senate President is an all-powerful Chief Executive to whom all others in the chamber bows.
“He is talking as if the passage of the budget is a responsibility of the Senate alone. How about the House of Representatives? I believe the legislators loyal to the Presidency should educate him about how the National Assembly functions. Decisions are jointly taken and they are subject to voting, in which the majority carries the day.
“Let me take his lies one by one. How can the Minister behave as if he was not in the country when Heads of MDAs will refuse to appear before National Assembly committees to defend their budget proposals. This year as late as June the National Assembly leadership at a meeting reported to the President how his Ministers were frustrating passage of the budget by not appearing before the legislative committees to defend their budget. On that occasion, President Buhari apologized to the legislators and said the impression he got before the meeting was different.
“He then ordered the SGF to write to all heads of MDAs to go and defend their budget proposals. It took two weeks after the budget before the ministers heeded that advice. Of course, Mr. Mohammed was not at the meeting between the leadership of the legislature and the President.
“On the refusal of the Senate to hold a confirmation hearing for Presidential nominees not expressly mentioned in the constitution, that was a logical reaction to the views expressed by the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, a senior advocate, that such categories of nominees do not require Senate confirmation. The Senate saw a contradiction in the VP’s position and the fact that those categories of nominees are still being referred to it for confirmation by the Presidency. Even then, the Senate waived the decision to suspend screening of such category of nominees by attending to those whose impact on the economy matter. These include the nominees into CBN and the rest.
“On the contributions of Dr. Saraki to the success of APC in Kwara State, Mr. Mohammed can tell his tale to the marines if they will believe that Saraki did not win Kwara for Buhari. What was the performance of President Muhammadu Buhari in Kwara in the three presidential elections before 2015? Did the Minister not lose his deposit when he contested as a gubernatorial candidate of APC in 2003 against Saraki? How come that Saraki that Mr. Mohammed lied everybody left the moment he joined APC produced the Governor and all elected officials on the platform of the APC? And to show how well Mr. Muhammadu is on ground in Kwara State, every elected official, including those representing his own Oro community has left APC for PDP. Later, the world will know those who contest elections to win and those who contest to make money in Kwara State.
“In fact, people should go and watch the video of the Senate screening of this Minister and see the loud “Nay”, that greeted the question of whether he should be confirmed as Minister. Yet, the Senate President ruled that the Ayes have it because he knew his colleagues would permit him to ensure that the Ministerial nominee from his state should not be disgraced.
“On the police siege on the home of Dr. Saraki, if Mr. Mohammed can only believe the IG who told him he did not deploy policemen to prevent the passage of the Senate President, how did the pictures and video of the event that was circulated online come about? I am sure Mr. Mohammed is the only Nigerian who believe the siege did not take place and we consider his decision to close his eyes to facts or turn facts on their head is a habit that hardly dies. Will the video lie if pictures are lying? I thought the IGP said he is investigating the event, why can’t the Minister wait for the report of the investigation?
“Mr. Mohammed has told too many lies since Saraki left their party.”