President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has challenged the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to prove that he has padded the national budgets since 2015.
Former Lagos State governor Tinubu in a statement on Sunday accused Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, of padding national budgets since they came to power.
“National budgets were delayed and distorted as these actors repeatedly sought to pad budgets with pet projects that would profit them,” Tinubu claimed in the statement.
“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 (Saraki) planted himself at the apex of legislative power. But his actions as Senate President showed a man devoid of compassion for the average Nigerian. All he cared for was power and position.”
But in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Yusuph Olaniyonu, on Monday, Saraki slammed the allegation as “careless, irresponsible and callous”.
The former Kwara State governor challenged Tinubu to prove the allegation or withdraw it.
The statement said, “In all the three budgets already passed by the National Assembly, we challenge Tinubu to make a specific reference to where Saraki and the leadership of the National Assembly ‘sought to pad with pet projects’ as he alleged.
“Tinubu should be graceful enough to substantiate this allegation. We consider that allegation careless, irresponsible and callous. We, therefore, demand that he withdraw it.”
Olaniyonu described Tinubu’s statement as “another of his now well-expected quarterly vicious attack” on Saraki.
He added, “Since we have taken it for granted that Tinubu’s attack on Saraki every three months will come as expected, we would just have ignored his statement but for the fact that it was filled with untruth, fallacies and misrepresentations. The statement was another effort to sell a concocted narrative about the 8th National Assembly and its leadership.
“To further make the points here clear, we invite Tinubu to look at the records of the time of the submission of the budgets and their passage since 2010 and he will see that, with the exception of the 2013 budget, which was passed on December 20, 2012, all the budgets were passed between March and May of the same fiscal year.
“This should give him a better understanding of the fact that the date the Appropriation Bill is submitted to the parliament and the readiness of the MDAs to defend the proposals submitted as well as a timely agreement on the figures by both chambers of the National Assembly are the main determining factors when the budget is eventually passed. So, Tinubu should see that the facts cannot support his spins and fake narrative.”
Saraki faulted Tinubu’s criticism of the leadership of the 8th National Assembly, insisting he and other leaders of the upper chamber were democratically elected.
The statement said, “It is because they are the choice of their colleagues that they have remained in office for the past 46 months despite the plots hatched by anti-democratic, reactionary and fascist elements pretending to be ‘progressives.”
It added, “In fact, Tinubu should know that if there was any mistake made on June 9, 2015, it was the miscalculation by himself and his cabal in the APC who felt they could decide for the senators-elect and House of Representatives members-elect. When they failed after their grandstanding that they could always get whatever they desired, they resorted to undermining the institution of the legislature and waging a campaign of calumny against the lawmaking body.”
Saraki’s aide also accused Tinubu of attacking his principal due to his belief that the APC chief frustrated his ambition to be President Muhammadu Buhari’s running mate in 2015 as well as his presidential ambition in 2023.
The statement said, “It is obvious his arbitrary and tactless interference in the process of the emergence of the leadership of the 9th National Assembly is already falling through. The frustration from this experience might have been responsible for this needless and baseless outbursts.”
It added, “A situation where Tinubu is dictating to elected legislators and ordering them to either comply with his directives or get out of the party will not augur well for the legislature in the next dispensation. History should have thought him that only leaders that truly enjoy the support of members can help the President and his administration to achieve their objectives.
“It is a good development that the candidates for the various positions are already reaching out to their colleagues and forging alliances. We can see that after he realised that he has misfired, he is trying to retrace his steps.”
Meanwhile, an aspirant to the House Representatives speakership, Mr Mohammed Bago, has urged Tinubu to allow the best aspirant to get the job.
Bago in a statement on Monday by spokesman for the Bago Campaign Organisation, Mr Victor Ogene, said, “Not too long ago, in 2015, when Tinubu tried to foist the same mentee of his as Speaker. In spite of the rational voices of caution by many stakeholders, many have been left wondering if the enforcement effort was at the instance of President Buhari and the party.
“Although a greater portion of the statement centred on his probable scheming for the 2023 presidential election, real or imagined, our concern revolves around the oblique reference to loyalty as the basis for his decision to stand by his adopted (son) as the next Speaker of the House of Representatives.”