How Saraki and friends will plunge Nigeria into its next recession – By Mayowa Tijani

Dear Bukola Saraki, Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,

Just in case you have not got anyone real enough to tell you the truth, here it is — for free. The chamber you lead is on its way to plunging Nigeria into its second economic recession in three years, and here is how.

When Nigeria was officially announced to have got into an economic recession in August 2016, I ran a study on all economic recessions in the history of Nigeria and the United States of America. One thing was striking: the US has had more recessions on the average than Nigeria has. Nigeria has been through seven economic recessions in its 56-year history, and World Bank data show that the current economic recession is raising that tally to eight.

According to National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the private firm known for monitoring recessions in the United States, the world’s largest economy has been through recession, at least 49 times in 240 years. In context, US has had at least, one recession in 5 years, while Nigeria, on the average, records one in seven years.

This goes on to show that recessions are normal phenomena, even for the best economies in the world. But the reason for every recession must be well understood, and avoided for in years to come. When in period of boom, countries with foresight prepare for the days of bust. They save, they build, the invest in the kind of infrastructure and fiscal buffers that can keep them afloat when the rainy days come.

WHAT HISTORY TEACHES ABOUT NIGERIAN RECESSIONS

According to World Bank figures, Nigeria’s first economic recession is what everyone will call a pardonable recession; the nation experienced an economic crunch between 1966 and 1968, which was as a result of the tensions around the nation’s civil war which ran through 1967 to 1970.

After the war, which claimed between one to three million lives, Nigerians returned to their quarters, everyone knew the next thing for a nation as this was to build up itself from the relics of war. By 1970, the economy recorded growth of 25 percent – the highest in the country’s history throughout the 20th century. Within these period, oil prices declined by over 12 percent (1966 to 1970) yet the economy grew massively. A nation was riding on the wings of her industry and the brains of a teeming youth population.

From 1970 to 1973, oil prices soared from $3 per barrel to $11 per barrel on the global market. Petrodollar began weaning Nigeria off Agriculture. In 1975, oil prices dropped by a few cents, from $11 to $10.43, but Nigeria could not weather the storm, which was accompanied by some political undercurrents. The nation fell into its second recession.

Within 1978 and 1983, Nigeria was at the mercy of falling oil prices and political instability. The country therefore recorded five annual gross domestic product (GDP) decline. Some economist argue that the country plunged into a depression at the time.

From 1984 to 2016, Nigeria’s economic recessions had always been tied to one oil slump or the other. Once, there is an oil slump, a recession is just a few months away — with the exception of 2008, which was averted by the fiscal buffer built by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration. This is the story of Nigeria’s recession.

SARAKI’S STROLL INTO A RECESSION

With a clear history and vivid pattern of Nigerian recession, the easiest thing for Nigeria to do is to avoid wars, political instability and pray against an oil slump.

As a nation, we can be resolute in our resolve to avoid wars, we can be determined to avert political instabilities, but we have no control over oil prices on the international markets!

In view of this, and the lessons from 2016, Udo Udoma’s ministry of  budget and national planning worked with an oil benchmark of $42.5 per barrel in planning the 2017 budget. The ministry, in conjuction with the private sector went a step further to strategically craft an economic recovery and growth plan, with the view of recording economic growth in the territories of seven percent by 2020.

The ministry engrafted all  ministries, agencies and departments of government into a plan that seeks to move Nigeria away from its oil addiction, and redirect the country’s recession pattern. But Saraki and friends do not see the urgency of now.

The senate raised the 2017 oil benchmark from the prudent $42.5 by the Udoma’s ministry to $44.5. With an increase in US shale supply on the global market, there are fears that oil prices may fall below $44 before the end of 2017. This will drive the nation’s budget further into huge deficit territories.

As if that were not enough, while the nation was being distracted by the certificate scandal of one of Saraki’s closest “friend”, the senate also decided that the 2017 budget which was presented in December 2016, will not be passed until May — nearly six months after presentation.

Saraki and friends, who are also expected to be deliberating the speedy passage of Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB, anaspect of PIB) are busy debating the regalia of the customs boss, who is enacting a controversial law that makes life less desirable for the average Nigerian.

Need I speak about the laws to improve the ease of doing business in Nigeria? Since it does not “embarrass” him and his friends, it does not need the speed used in “dealing” with Ali Ndume, who was suspended for embarrasing Saraki and friends.

Here, there is no middle ground. If these senate does not help Nigeria with the kind of laws and urgency that can help us move away from oil, then we would, once again, be victims, strolling with eyes open into an oil-driven economic recession.

Oga Saraki, when does ambition go overboard? – By Richard Tayo

Senator Bukola Saraki, I greet you sir, I salute you. How is the senate fairing under your leadership? I was very happy when you became the senate President on the 9th of June 2015 no doubt. I argued with my cousin and some friends for almost a quarter of the day why I think you are the best man for the position of the number three man in Nigeria.

 

Back to my question sir; How is the senate fairing under your leadership? Ofcourse my question is a mere rhetoric because we all know how the senate is doing under your watch.

 

I do hope you don’t mind the truth because i’m going to say some very hard truth here. Can you imagine a fluffy whiff of cloud hanging between heaven and earth? That’s how our life is right now. We are just hung there without movement. Just because of one man and that is you.

 

The senate belongs to you just as Kwara state belong to your family. No one challenges you because you are simply unquestionable, unbeatable, untouchable and unstoppable.

 

Each time you are in the news sir it’s always for the wrong reasons and why is that? Talk of the one who was alleged to have mortgaged the future of Kwara state, Panama Papers & the swindlers, the one who decry public criticism and still got 330 million exotic car, the one whose case is with CCB for false declaration of assets. Haba na only you waka come?

 

I have often quoted that “Our fear of hypocrisy is forcing us to live in a world where gluttons are fine as long as they champion gluttony “That’s why your little lap dog ; my 3rd class senator and your wife’s bodyguard will always do your bidding.

 

We are in recession and our lives are spiraling out of control yet our NASS is malfunctioning, making mess of our lives. All that bothers you is wardrobe allowance, exotic cars, Magu’s removal, Hameed Ali’s uniform but no single legislation to help get our economy out of comatose. You and your fellow Senators seat most of the time for no discernible reasons, perhaps to appropriate sitting allowances.

 

You want to summon everyone to the senate but no one can summon you. Each time someone try as much as ask you questions as regard your stewardship in the past you raise a false alarm then use the paraphernalia of your office to subjugate the fellow. Meaning it’s no longer democracy when offenders are made to pay for their sins. Can’t you see now that the idea of democracy has been stripped of it moral imperatives and come to conote hollowness?

 

Some of you senators are just making the transpose from here to there like Johnny Walker but doing nothing. Our common patrimony have become bargaining chips and human shield. That was why you gave senator Kabir Garba Marafa a notable critic of yours, a juicy committee chairmanship just to buy his support and shut him up and it worked. Congratulations!  Your insatiable quest for power made you and your cronies suspend Senator Ndume and it’s making you want to ask the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to come grovel before you. When does ambition go overboard Mr Senate President?

 

The National Assembly that we all respect so much has become the house of jesters. Perhaps you don’t understand that the cost of maintaining you jesters has dug deep holes in our national treasury. You can imagine the percentage of our budget that goes into your upkeep. You all literally live at our expense only going through motions like somnambulist.

 

No one can put a hand to why we deserve the kind of treatment meted out to us by you and your fellow greedy law makers. You do these things just because you know that the cumbersome recall process which has never happened before is holding us bound.

 

Senator, when does ambition go overboard? Remember that everything that has a beginning must surely have an end. Meaning a time will come when your highness will be dethroned. You will look back and you won’t find those urging you on now. That includes my 3rd class graduate senator.

 

Go to @aminugamawa on Twitter and see the result of the poll that “Between the @officialEFCC under Magu and @NGRSenate under Saraki which one do you trust more?” and see how Nigerians feel about your leadership of the Senate.

 

Sir, you may want to arrest me, invite me for questioning on the floor of the senate or refer me to Ethics and privileges committee. I am not hard to find just tell me the kind of uniform to wear to appear before you.

 

My regards to Dino, tell him I said ” Ajekun iya ni o je, Eni ti ko represent wa daadaa ni Kogi west to fe contest ni 2019, Ajekun iya ni oje.

@RichardTayo

Senator Ndume Calls For Investigation Of Saraki, Melaye Over Forgery Scandals.

Senator Ali Ndume on Tuesday called for an investigation into Senators Bukola Saraki and Dino Melaye over allegations of Customs documents forgery and university certificate forgery, respectively.

Mr. Ndume was prompted to call for the investigation after the scandals were revealed.

An investigation revealed on Saturday that Mr. Saraki had his bulletproof Range Rover SUV confiscated by Nigeria Customs Service officials in January 2017 because he had forged the duty payment document and end-user certificate required for importing the vehicle.

On Monday, it was revealed that Mr. Melaye forged his graduation certificate from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU).

Remarking that the scandals were insulting and embarrassing to the Senate, Mr. Ndume called on the ethics committee to investigate the embattled senators.

Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, presiding over the Senate in the absence of Mr. Saraki, who is facing separate corruption charges at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), subsequently referred the matter to the ethics committee. The committee will report its findings to the Senate within the next four weeks.

Senators speaking anonymously to reporters, however, doubt that the ethics committee will indict the two senators, as the committee is populated by their close political allies.

 

Source: Sahara Reporters

Senate investigates alleged customs’ seizure of “Saraki’s car.”

The senate has directed its committee on ethics and privileges to investigate the alleged seizure of a bulletproof car purportedly owned by Bukola Saraki.

The car was reportedly seized by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) of which comptroller-general, Hameed Ali, had been locked in a face-off with the senate.

The upper legislative chamber had summoned Ali to appear before it in uniform over the customs’ planned enforcement of duty on old cars.

But the customs chief appeared before the senate in civilian attire. He was subsequently ordered out of the chamber with an order to get a uniform.

However, there were insinuations that the senate was being hard on Ali because the customs had seized a sport utility vehicle (SUV) of Saraki.

On Tuesday, Ali Ndume, a senator from Borno state, raised a point of order asking the upper legislative chamber to investigate the allegation.

He said Nigerians were insulting the senate over the matter.

He also asked the senate to investigate allegations of certificate forgery against Dino Melaye, a senator from Kogi west.

After listening to the motion, deputy senate president Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the session, referred it to the committee on ethics and privileges, and he directed it to submit its report in four weeks.

 

Source: The Cable

BREAKING: Senator Andy Uba Officially Defects To The APC

Senator Andy Uba formerly of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), has officially defected to the All Progressive Congress (APC).

This was made known by the official Twitter account of the Nigerian Senate this morning which stated that the announcement was made by the Senate President Bukola Saraki.

Further details of the defection will be communicated as it unfolds.

 

“President Buhari Is Healthy And In Good Spirit”, Says Saraki. [Pictures]

Senate President Bukola Saraki has said that President Muhammadu Buhari, who is still on vacation in London is healthy and good spirit.

Saraki, in a statement personally signed by him stated this after a meeting with the president at the Abuja House in London.

He visited the president in company of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and other members of the leadership of the National Assembly including Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan.

“Delighted to see that President Buhari is doing well, was cheerful and in good spirits”, Saraki said.

“The president I saw today is healthy, witty and himself.”

“The president’s absence and imminent return shows that there is no vacuum in government and our system of democracy is working with all organs of government fulfilling their mandate. And let me use the time tested cliché, there is no cause for alarm!”, Saraki added.

 

The Cable: The N125m ‘invisible’ house rented for Nigeria’s Senate President.

A N125 million building purportedly rented for Senate President Bukola Saraki by the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council (AMMC) could not be traced by TheCable after several searches.

And, curiously, nobody is willing to comment on the mystery as all the key players in the affair refused to pick calls or reply SMS from TheCable.

The property is said to be located at Plot 973, Mban Close, off Pope John Paul Street, Maitama, Abuja, rented at N50 million per year on a two-year tenancy, with fees and VAT bringing the total cost to N125 million.

The property is described in the tenancy agreement as a five-bedroom detached duplex with two-room guest chalet boys quarters, a swimming pool, air conditioners and 1,350 square metres with “ample parking space”.

Felix Akpoti, the director of Legendark Consultants, the lessor, signed for his company while Omoniyi Olaloye, an engineer, signed for AMMC, which is under the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA).

The only problem, though, is that Plot 973 could not be physically traced.

Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki’s spokesman, has denied knowledge of the property, insisting that the senate president knew nothing about the rent as he lives in his own house at Lake Chad Crescent, Maitama, Abuja.

Download the tenancy Agreement for Plot 973

“I am telling you, it is a lie. The senate president lives in own house, and he does not take rent. He has no link to this issue,” he told TheCable.

Also, a second house purportedly rented for Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu at Plot 22, Vaal Street, off Rhine Street, Maitama, Abuja, is unoccupied.

It was described in the rent agreement as a five-bedroom detached duplex with a guest chalet of 3-bedroom boys quarters.

It costs N40 million per year for two years, starting from May 7, 2016 and terminating on May 6, 2018.

Again, Akpoti singed for Legendark Consultants, while Olaloye signed for AMMC.

However, the house is unoccupied as Ekweremadu still lives at his personal residence at the Apo Legislative Quarters.

His media aide, Uche Anichukwu, also told TheCable the deputy senate president is not aware of the property.

Download tenancy Agreement for Plot 22

Anichukwu said: “I’m not aware of any residential accommodation rented for the deputy president of the senate. A group known as CATBAN, supposedly a civil society group, initially alleged that the deputy president of the senate was paid over a hundred million by the FCT in lieu of accommodation. We refuted that allegation. We still stand by our statement because was a sponsored mischief. Nobody paid any money was to Senator Ekweremadu.

“Now that they have shifted to that a property was rented for him, my response is that I’m not aware that the deputy president of the senate was given any residential accommodation you. I know he lives at App Quarters. However, even if the FCT does give him any residential accommodation, it is still within his statutory right. Everybody knows that the FCT provides accommodation for president, vice-president, senate president, deputy president of the senate, speaker of the house of representatives, deputy speaker of the house, and the chief justice of Nigeria.

“Meanwhile, I’m also aware that the the presiding officers turned down over N10 Billion proposed by the FCT in the 2016 budget for the construction of their residential accommodation as as they said that it did not reflect the hardship in the country.”

Akpoti, who signed the agreements, refused to speak to TheCable on phone, demanding to see the documents first.

However, he did not give his location and failed to respond to further phone calls from.

He later told TheCable to email him the queries. But instead of responding to them he directed TheCable to the FCDA and the senate committee on FCT.

FCDA refused to comment, while Dino Melaye, chairman of senate committee on FCT, did not respond to an SMS query.

He was quoted by Daily Trust as saying the documents are “made in Taiwan”.

A series of offers

After a brief meeting on Monday, Muhammad Sule, FCDA spokesman, directed TheCable to Safiya Umar, acting director of the AMMC, to get details of the transaction. He said he had no idea of it because it was not within his purview.

TheCable called Umar repeatedly, and even sent her an SMS, but she did not respond as well.

A letter of contract award from AMMC to Legendark Consultants, dated 30 March, 2016, showed that Plot 973 was for the senate president.

“I am directed to inform you that provisional approval has been given for an emergency of contract to your company in line PPA Section 42 (1b &1f) for rented house for the senate president in Maitama AO5 (Plot No 973 Mban Close) for two years at the contract sum of N125m only with expiration period of two years,” the letter signed by Ibrahim Ibrahim Gusau, secretary tenders board, read.

A series of “offer for property” letters from Legendark was written to the senate committee, and not the FCDA.

Acknowledgement copies of the letters were received and signed by one Samuel Melaye.

One of the letters signed by Akpoti, entitled ‘Offer for property on Plot 2 Pechora Close, Panama Crescent, Maitama, Abuja’, read: “Sequel to our letter dated 19th January, 2016 to your good office, we are glad to inform you that we have secured a property on the above named address, that meets your kind request.

“The facilities of the property include: a seven-bedroom duplex with a mezzanine floor, a ballroom, a movie room, a four-bedroom boys’ quarters, a swimming pool (and) internal parking space for 10 cars.

“We hereby offer the property for rent/lease to you at the market/asking price of N45m per annum.”

The account details were stated as Guaranty Trust Bank, account number 021211999, sort code 058083228 and account name Legendark Consultants.

‘Phoney residences’

The Citizens Action to Take Back Nigeria (CATBAN), an advocacy group, had initially alleged that the presiding officers of the national assembly received over N630m from FCDA as rent for “phoney” residences.

Olaniyonu had then dismissed the allegation as false.

He said the four presiding officers of the national assembly had been living in their personal residences, and that “they do not get paid by any federal government agency”.

“There is no truth to the claim by this group. In fact, during the preparation of the budget, the senate president and speaker directed the FCDA to remove the N10bn voted for the construction of their official residences to save cost. The current leadership of the national assembly will not be part of any illegal payment to anybody,” he said.

However, Turaki Hassan, Dogara’s spokesman, said the presiding officers of the national assembly are entitled to official accommodation, “which is provided by the FCDA”, and that how the agency does it is “entirely its business”.

“Presiding officers of the national assembly are entitled to official accommodation, which is provided for by the FCDA as the host of the national assembly. The same is applicable to the president, vice president and the chief justice of Nigeria because their offices were not covered by the monetisation policy,” he said.

“Consequently, no national assembly presiding officer receives any money from any other source for accommodation or rent. The FCDA is solely responsible for providing official accommodation for presiding officers of the national assembly and how it goes about it is entirely its business and not that of any presiding officer. It’s callous, wicked and evil for any news medium to seek to perpetuate the mendacity that national assembly presiding officers collected money from FCDA without any form of evidence whatsoever.”

1 abuja one

 

2 abuja two

 

3 abuja three

 

Source: The Cable

Senator Ali Ndume gets new role.

The president of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, on Thursday created two more standing committees to oversee Sustainable Development Goals and Federal Road Maintenance Agency, and replaced the leadership of three others.

 

Mr. Saraki, just before the Senate adjourned plenary on Thursday, named former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, APC-Borno, chairman of the committee on the Independent National Electoral Commission, replacing Abba Kyari, now appointed chair of the committee on defence.

 

The chairmanship of the defence committee was vacated by Ahmed Lawan, who replaced Mr. Ndume as the Senate Leader.

 

George Sekibo, PDP-Rivers, was named the chairman of the committee on interior. Mr. Sekibo returned to the Senate in December after he won in the December Rivers legislative rerun polls.

 

The two new committees on FERMA and SGDs are to be headed by Attai Aidoko, PDP-Kogi, and Mr. Abe respectively, Mr. Saraki announced.

 

According to the website of the National Assembly, the Senate had 67 committees before the creation of the ones of SDGs and FERMA yesterday by Mr. Saraki.

 

Source: Premium Times

“Please put an end to the trial”, Saraki’s lawyer appeals to CCT judge

Kanu Agabi, counsel to Senate President Bukola Saraki, has appealed to Danladi Umar, chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), to end Saraki’s trial.

 

The nation’s number three citizen is facing 16 counts of false asset declaration brought against him by the government, and his trial continued on Wednesday.

 

Welcoming counsel for the prosecution and the defence to the tribunal, Umar said he hoped that this year’s proceedings would be rancour free.

 

He also said he? believed everyone was happy to be back at the tribunal.

?

But Agabi quickly rose to say the defence was not happy to be at the tribunal.

 

“Our prayer this year is that you free us from all these. We are not happy to be here,” he said.

 

“It is my fervent prayer is that this matter will end in peace.”

18 months on, Saraki fails serial promises to disclose National Assembly budget

After 18 months in the saddle as President of the Senate and Chairman of the National Assembly, Bukola Saraki has refused to honour repeated promises to Nigerians to publicly disclose the details of the lawmakers’ budget.

Mr. Saraki came to office in June 2015 promising accountability and transparency, but ever since, he has reneged on every promise to open the budget of the National Assembly to the public.

With N23.347 billion in 2003, the National Assembly’s budget now stands at about N115 billion, representing over 492 per cent rise in 13 years. Until 2016, the budget had often gone as high as N150 billion.

In 2010, when the budget hit a shocking record sum of N154.2 billion, David Mark, Mr. Saraki’s predecessor, decided to block Nigerians from knowing details of how the National Assembly’s jumbo allocations were spent, especially how much members earned in allowances, thus wrapping up the federal legislators’ finances in utmost secrecy.

So, in one masterstroke of legislative brinkmanship, the National Assembly’s budget, hitherto open to public scrutiny, like those of ministries, departments and agencies, suddenly became secret after the body legislated, in 2010 under Mr. Mark, to make itself member of an exclusive club of opaque agencies whose budget details are never disclosed but whose finances are deducted en-bloc (first-line charge) via statutory transfers.

Mr. Saraki clinched the Senate leadership in June 2015, days after Muhammadu Buhari was inaugurated Nigeria’s president. In the spirit of the high hope that waste, corruption, impunity and opacity would be fought in the country’s public institutions, Nigerians reignited calls for an open budget at the National Assembly.

Apparently conscious of the popular wish, Mr. Saraki included in his inauguration speech the vow to “change from impunity and elite arrogance to a life of accountability,” and then circulated a text in which he named a committee “to review NASS budget, to make it open and more realistic.”

The said committee, as mentioned in the text, included Dino Melaye, Ben Bruce, Shehu Sani and Gbenga Ashafa.

With his initial promise of accountability yielding no result, on November 15, 2015, Mr. Saraki again promised to open the NASS budget.

“You will see what goes to the Senate, what goes to the House of Reps, you are going to see what goes to management, what goes to Legislative Institute, we are going to make all these open and clear. That is part of the openness we promised,” he said.

Then on February 2, 2016, Mr. Saraki again promised a detailed breakdown of the NASS budget while addressing journalists during the commissioning of the renovated press centre at the Senate.

“I can assure you that we are going to move away from the time of one item line National Assembly to National Assembly where there will be breakdowns according to the different sections,” he said.

On March 13, 2016, the promise was repeated. That day, Mr. Saraki in a statement promised the budget details would be released ‘next week’.

March 13, 2016 was a Sunday. Therefore, Mr. Saraki’s promise should have materialised between March 14 and 19, being the workdays within his ‘next week’. But again, he failed to keep the promise.

Towards the end of 2016, it was becoming clear Mr. Saraki was not sincere about his vaunted commitment to #OpenNass, thereby becoming a target of criticisms by Nigerians trying to hold him to account.

“We knew from our engagement with the leadership of the National Assembly that the budget doesn’t exist,” said Yemi Adamolekun of Enough is Enough, a civil society group.

But the National Assembly actually has a budget, though, it is so mysterious that many of the lawmakers do not know its details.

In March 2016, PREMIUM TIMES had a rare access to the general framework of the NASS budget and made it public.

Against the background of the renewed criticisms in December, Mr. Saraki, through his media aide, Bankole Omishore, promised the budget details would be released in a “few days’ time”.

The last promise was made on December 20; but 15 days later, the promise is yet to be redeemed.

The National Assembly may commence work on the 2017 budget proposal by Mr. Buhari when it resumes next week without fulfilling the pledge to disclose details of its 2016 budget.

After #OpenNass, Mr. Saraki is currently preoccupied by #madeinNigeria on Twitter, promoting goods made in the country.

The Senate President’s spokesperson, Yusuph Olaniyonu, Thursday morning justified his principal’s false statements.

“Are you people not tired of this thing,” said Mr. Olaniyonu when pressed for comment on his principal’s failure to make the NASS budget public.

“We are no longer in 2016; this is 2017.”

He said it was “not logical” to account for what was promised last year in the current year.

“It is like asking me to predict a match that had been played. Event has overtaken it.”

While Mr. Saraki continued to make unfulfilled promises to Nigerians, the Senate as a body does not appear to believe in the need to allow Nigerians see details of its finances.

When PREMIUM TIMES spoke with the spokesperson of the Senate, Aliyu Abdullahi, on Wednesday, he claimed that the Senate’s “budget has always been open as far as I am concerned”.

The repeated public demand for the budget is baseless, said Mr. Abdullahi, adding that, “the National Assembly does not have same budget structure with the Executive and it is not in the public interest to see everything in the budget (of the NASS).”

He was reminded that the budget of the NASS pre-2010, when Mr. Mark enthroned the culture of secrecy, had detailed breakdown like those of the ministries.

“I don’t know because I was not there,” he replied.

Another Initiative Against The Economic Recession – By Bamikole Omisore

On Monday, the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar  Bukola Saraki, announced the “Made-in-Nigeria Challenge” – an offshoot of his campaign to stimulate the public’s appeal for Nigerian-made  goods.

Basically, the aim of the “Challenge” is to encourage local manufacturers by giving them the necessary incentive and support needed to grow and compete with their foreign counterparts.

The campaign encourages Nigerians to send in a 45-second to three-minute video promo of a product the country is currently importing, but which can be produced with at least 70 percent local content. For instance, local manufacturers of toothpicks,  tomato paste, fruit juice, textiles, technological implements and products that add value to agricultural production may enter the Challenge by using the hashtag #MadeInNigeria on any social media page or by uploading on YouTube or directly sending an email to min@senatepresident.gov.ng before March 8th. The winners will be selected to participate in the Made in Nigeria Fair and Business Roundtable.

After receipt of the entries, a group of experts and industry operators put together by the Senate President will review the videos and verify the claims therein. The shortlisted manufacturers will be invited to Abuja to showcase their products at a Fair that will be co-hosted by civil society groups and some other development partners. This fair will also have in attendance guests from different government agencies and investors who will be able to address the participants on how  to overcome the challenges they might be facing in successfully running Small and medium Scale Enterprises. The diplomatic community and foreign media like will also be invited to the event.

Earlier in 2016, Senator Saraki pledged to support legislation that would make it mandatory for the government to patronise local products. This promise, which was made during his attendance at the Made in Aba Trade Fair, resulted in the passage of the amendments to the Public Procurement Act. These amendments contained a provision that compels Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to give preference to local manufacturers and suppliers in all their procurements. The amendment also increased the mobilisation fee to contractors as well as shortened the number of days in the federal government’s procurement process.

Additionally, last February, while speaking with representatives of Aba Manufacturers Association, led by Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, Saraki remarked that some local products were more sophisticated than imported ones, however, more effort had to be made to ensure that such goods are patronised to allow their manufacturers to succeed.

”This is the only way we can create jobs, solve the problem of unemployment and stop the growing army of aggrieved youths who pose danger to society. We can do it. We have a population that translates to a ready market. This is how we can genuinely help our people,The chairmen of our relevant committees are being put on notice to ensure that they focus their oversight on these areas. We must make sure that government agencies patronise Nigerian manufacturers. For example, the armed forces should be purchasing and using foot wears produced  in the various industries in Aba and other places.”, the Senate President said.

After Saraki’s appeal to government agencies to patronise local products, the army placed an order for 50 thousand pairs of Made-in-Aba boots. Also, the army ordered for armoured security vehicles from Innoson Manufacturing Vehicles (IMV) based in Nnewi. In the same vein, the Nigerian Air Force now has an agreement with the IMV for the refurbishing of its aircraft.

Saraki is not relenting in his determination to promote local industries. He in fact desires that Nigerians take over the ownership of the advocacy campaign. The present Challenge is aimed at engaging and encouraging Nigerians who have an eye for local production – goods that are ready substitute for imported ones and that can add value to the economy – in all spheres.

In this charge, in December 2016, Saraki met with Mr Sam Hart, leader of the delegation of Made-in-Aba Manufacturers and also with Mr Velcroz, a local shoemaker. And for his steadfastness in promoting Nigerian goods, the Senate President was named #MadeInAba/#MadeInNigeria Ambassador.

The Senate President is interested in connecting more local manufacturers from Osogbo, Kabba, Abeokuta, Ilorin, Mbaise and many other cities across the country with potential investors and government agencies.

It remains a strange phenomenon that Nigerians are crazy about foreign goods when the country is blessed with an array of raw materials that can be converted to finished products.

The local Adire and Kampala can replace the school uniforms of pupils in primary and secondary schools. There are different species of trees in Nigeria — which makes it alarming that we continue to import furniture, matches and toothpicks. Again, we import starch when we have cassava in large quantities; we import tomato paste when our lands are good for growing tomato.

Now, with the official launch of the “Made-in-Nigeria Challenge”, which is a part of the Senate’s strategy to bring Nigerians into the business of law making, more efforts will be channelled into ensuring that government agencies comply with the newly amended Public Procurement Act, 2016 — once it is passed by the House, and signed into law by the President. The Made-in-Nigeria campaign will also make government agencies understand the Senate’s resolve to ensure compliance with the Public Procurement Act.

In this direction, the Senate will soon create a desk dedicated to making sure that the procurement law is respected by all and that Nigerians can always contact this desk if they feel they have been unfairly treated by any government agency in its procurement process.

Also, the newly inaugurated Legislative Compliance Committee, which is the first of its kind in the history of the legislature in Nigeria, was created to ensure all government agencies comply with the law and other resolutions of the Senate in an attempt to jumpstart the economy.

Taking the campaign beyond the shores of Nigeria, the Senate is poised to engage with representatives of the European Union and other development agencies and partness to find ways of giving Nigerian farm produce access to European and UK markets.

In a time when nations are moving towards self-reliance and total economic dependence –  as evident in Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan – Saraki’s “Made-in-Nigeria” campaign is the antidote to Nigeria’s economic nightmare. It is also pertinent to mention that six months after the Senate passed the law to compel patronage for indigenous manufacturers, outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama last month signed a policy which compels American armed forces to purchase foot wears for her men and officers from only American companies located within American shores. Great minds think alike.

There  is no gainsaying the fact that when Nigerians buy local goods, there will be a multiplier effect on the economy. The local industries will grow, increase their capacities and employ more people; thereby cutting down Nigeria’s high unemployment figure. This will increase our Gross Domestic Product, imbue international confidence in the economy, re-energise the local currency, encourage foreign investment in the economy and generally improve the standard of living of citizens.

To add to this, the upper legislative chamber is aware that infrastructure is a key part of promoting local industries; hence it has amended the Railway Act to make room for private investors to invest in the sector. Railways are essential not only for the movement of people, but also for the conveyance of goods to and from different parts of the country. The senate under Saraki is also looking at making viable legislations for other key infrastructure such as power to give local industries the elixir of growth and competitiveness.

Already,  Nigerians across political divides and social classes have embraced the ‘Made in Nigeria’ initiative. With this, it is expected to help change the orientation of Nigerians. In fact, this is a campaign that may serve the dual purpose of boosting our collective patriotism and stregthning our pride in our motherland, Nigeria.

 

Omisore is Special Assistant to the Senate President on New Media.

Nostalgia? Bukola Saraki, Ali-Modu Sheriff hold secret meeting.

Senate President Bukola Saraki held a private meeting with Ali Modu-Sheriff, factional chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Sunday.

According to PUNCH, the meeting, which lasted for a little over 20 minutes, held at an enclosure within the International Conference Centre complex, Abuja.

Saraki was said to have made his way into the complex at about 7:30pm and left around 7:51pm.

Although details of the meeting were not made public, it could be about political re-alignments ahead of the 2019 general election.

When the newspaper contacted Chucks Okocha, special assistant to the senate president (print media), said while it was true that his boss met with Sheriff, it had nothing to do with politics.

“My principal only went to felicitate with the Sheriffs over the wedding of their daughter,” he reportedly said.

“The Sarakis and the Sheriffs have been family friends for over 20 years.

“There is nothing usual about them sharing moments of joy such as weddings. It was just a social visit and that is what it is.”

The Ahmed Makarfi faction of the PDP has accused Sheriff of working for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which Saraki belongs to.

You may lose public support, Timi Frank warns Saraki

The deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Timi Frank, on Thursday asked the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to be wary of the party’s leadership.

Mr. Frank said Mr. Saraki could lose support from his strongest backers if he sustained the recent moves to establish close ties with the chairman of the party, John Odigie-Oyegun, and others.

Mr. Saraki should “watch his back in the latest moves so as not to lose the confidence of some Nigerians and party members who believed in him when the likes of Oyegun did not” Mr. Frank said in a statement.

Mr. Frank’s warning came a day after Mr. Saraki visited the national headquarters of the APC for a closed-door discussion with the top officials of the party.

The meeting was aimed at resolving the protracted acrimony within the party, which had lingered for more than a year.

But Mr. Frank said Mr. Odigie-Oyegun designed the meeting as a convenient way out of the crisis he allegedly created.

“It is clear that most of these crises he’s personally responsible for require a new competent hand to heal the wounds before it is too late for the party.

“Instead of inviting Saraki for a romance, why can’t the national chairman call for a National Executive Committee meeting where all the leaders will sit at a round table and tell themselves the truth?” Mr. Frank said.

A spokesman for Mr. Saraki did not immediately respond to PREMIUM TIMES’ request for comments Thursday night.

Mr. Oyegun could not be reached for comments.

Mr. Frank has been locked in bitter confrontation with Mr. Odigie-Oyegun since he was denied the opportunity of assuming the position of acting spokesman for the party following the appointment of Lai Mohammed as a minister.

The party finally named Bolaji Abdullahi, a former Sports Minister, as its spokesman last week.

Senate summons Kachikwu over multibillion dollars China, India deals

The Senate has summoned the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, over his claims of multibillion dollars oil and gas deals with India and Chinese firms.

 

Mr. Kachikwu, in an interview with This Day in June, said Nigeria signed Memorandums of Understanding with several Chinese firms during a road show in the Asian country on “$80 billion new investments, spanning five years, in the oil and gas industry covering pipelines, refineries, gas and power, facility refurbishments and upstream financing.”

 

He also hinted at new investments worth $20 billion from Sinopec and Chinese National Offshore Oil Company in the Nigeria’s oil and gas sector.

 

In October, Mr. Kachikwu, through a statement by the Director of Press in the Petroleum Ministry, said Nigeria was set to sign with India an investment deal which would see the Indian make an upfront payment of $15 billion to Nigeria for crude purchases.

 

But on Tuesday, the Senate resolved the Minister should appear before its committees on petroleum, gas and foreign affairs to explain the terms of the deals and the their implications for the economy.

 

The Senate’s resolution followed a motion by Clifford Ordia (PDP-Edo).

 

In his remarks, Senate President Bukola Saraki expressed appreciation to Mr. Kachikwu for his initiatives but emphasised the need for transparency.

Saraki Launches Youth Scheme, Set to Provide 40,000 Jobs

Dr Bukola Saraki, President of the Nigerian Senate, has formally inaugurated his youths empowerment programme to provide 40,000 direct jobs for the youths in various vocations in the next four years.


Speaking during the ceremony yesterday in Ilorin, Kwara state, Saraki charged political leaders in the country to empower the youths to be job creators to reduce the high unemployment rate in the country.

He equally urged the state government to continue to make youth empowerment the main trust of its administration. “It is also my hope that from today as well, different leaders from all parts of the country will emulate what we are doing and play their role by creating opportunities for our youths,” he said, adding, “I want to also appeal to the Kwara state House of Assembly Speaker to look at laws that can help to create opportunities for a lot of youths who after getting their certificates can start work so that they have customers to buy their products.”

“Bukola Saraki lied about buying a house from proceeds of rice.” – Witness

Michael Wetkas, a detective of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Monday, said Senate President Bukola Saraki borrowed money to buy a piece of property in Lagos, but that he claimed the money was from the sale of rice and sugar.

Wetkas, while being cross-examined on counts two and three of the 16-count charge of false asset declaration against the senate president at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), said the defendant borrowed the money from Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB).

Paul Usoro,  Saraki’s lawyer, examined him.

Acknowledging the charge which read in part: “You (Saraki) falsely declared a property at 17 A and B Ikoyi, Lagos, which you said you bought from the proceeds of rice and sugar whereas it was a loan from Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB),” Wetkas insisted that it was? valid.

The EFCC detective said Saraki bought the property in 2006 from a loan of N400m from GTB, but that he allegedly did not declare it in 2011 at the end of his eighth term as governor of Kwara state.

However, Wetkas admitted that Saraki declared the property  in 2007 at the end of his first term as governor.

?Saraki had made several attempts to halt his trial at the CCT, but he failed at every turn.

He maintains that his trial is politically motivated.

The trial was in progress as of the time of filing this report.

Bukola Saraki’s Assets Form Not Verified By EFCC- Witness

As the trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki continued yesterday, the first prosecution witness (PW1) admitted before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) that some of the exhibits he tendered earlier were not investigated by his team.

Mr. Micheal Wetkas, an investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), during a cross-examination by the lead defence counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), admitted that he did not investigate the petitions in Exhibits 11, 12 and 13.

Exhibit 11, dated May 22, 2012, was a petition written by Kwara Freedom Network, inviting EFCC to investigate Kwara State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB).

Wetkas had earlier in his evidence in-chief informed the tribunal of the petition by the Kwara Freedom Network. But yesterday, he said that his team did not investigate the petition.

He in fact declined virtually every question put to him by the defence counsel on most of the documents he tendered, stressing that he did not participate in the investigations.

When asked to produce the petitions, Wetkas quickly told the tribunal most of them were oral and intelligence reports from sources who pleaded anonymity . He also admitted most of the intelligence reports he based his investigations on emanated from ‘whistle blowers’.

“Most times to the best of my knowledge, people who bring information prefer anonymity. If it was not in anonymity, it would be called a petition,” he said.

Also, Exhibit 12, which was dated May 7, 2011, was addressed to the chairman of the EFCC asking the anti-graft agency to investigate the Kwara State government on borrowings for projects described as phoney . Exhibit 13 was a petition dated June 7, 2012,? which was about the mismanagement of local government revenue in Kwara State between 2003 and 2011.

When asked if in the course of his investigations he had audience with the accountant general of Kwara State, the witness said he did not as that was not part of his assignment. When also asked whether he invited any official of the Kwara State government in the course of investigation, the witness said he did not. On whether he got another written document to buttress the petition written by Kwara Freedom Network, the witness also said he did not.

During further examination, the witness was asked why he tendered documents he did not investigate and for which he could not answer questions . He told the tribunal that he did not tender the exhibits on his own but that they were tendered through him by the prosecution.

Credit: Guardian

Saraki’s Trial: Senators Summon Tribunal Judge

Panel: you must appear on Thursday
I won’t come, says Judge
‘My trial won’t disturb Senate,’ says Saraki

Senators may have set the stage for a major confrontation between them and the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) over Senate President Bukola Saraki’s trial for alleged falsification of assets.
The Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions yesterday summoned CCT Chairman Justice Danladi Umar over allegations of corruption against him.
The invitation, coming on a day Justice Umar said Saraki’s trial will run daily, appeared a new twist to the matter.
In a letter signed yesterday by the Clerk of the Committee, Freedom Odolo,the Senate asked Justice Umar to appear unfailingly by 2pm on Thursday.
But Justice Umar replied the committee that he has a court sitting on Thursday and throughout the week.
He said he would not be available until after the court sittings, which is on Saraki’s trial.
The invitation letter was delivered to the CCT chairman shortly after he ruled that the tribunal will be sitting daily from 9am to 6pm.

The committee said: “Your letter with reference number CCT/HQ/ 126/S/ 111/ 515 dated 1st April, 2016 in which you requested for more time to enable you attend the hearing was received.
“After due consideration of your request, the Committee rescheduled the hearing to give you at least two weeks from the 4th of April when you should have appeared.
“Accordingly, you are now required to appear unfailingly as follows: Thursday, 21st April, 2016, Meeting Room 120 New Senate Building, National Assembly Complex. Time: 2pm
“Please, remember to come personally along with 12 copies of any written submission you may wish to present.”
A source said: “The battle line is drawn between the Senate and the CCT chairman. Some Senators are angry over his decision to allow the tribunal to sit from 9am to 6pm.
“They saw the CCT Chairman’s decision as a plot to deny Saraki any opportunity to preside over the Senate plenary throughout his trial.
“Now, these Senators have also launched a counter-attack against the CCT chairman by revisiting the outstanding petition against the judge.
“Shortly after the CCT chairman decided to be sitting daily till 6pm, a letter came from the Senate Committee inviting Justice Umar on the outstanding petition against him.”
But a source in CCT said: “The judge has asked the Registrar of the tribunal to write the Senate committee that he has a court sitting on Thursday and throughout the week and won’t be able to honour the summons.
“The CCT Chairman’s letter was sent last night to the committee”

Credit : The Nation

False Asset Declaration: Saraki Flies In Experts From US, Israel To Prove His Innocence

Senate President, Bukola Saraki has reportedly flown in forensic experts from the United States and Israel to work with his legal team in a bid to win his ongoing trial of false assets declaration at the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT.

 
The experts, according to a Thisday report, include investigators, forensic and handwriting specialists with the mandate to provide information on witnesses and documents presented at the tribunal by the prosecution.

 

A source who spoke with the newspaper on Wednesday said the information from the experts would assist Saraki’s legal team present a credible defence at the Tribunal.
The source said, “The investigators will ferret out and scrutinise thoroughly, all available information on the eight prosecution witnesses, including their school records, service records from the past and present, places of employment and personal information that may help the defence team in the course of the trial.

 

“Most of those so-called witnesses will not be credible when information concerning their life is presented publicly before the tribunal.

 

“It is also expected that with the fear that the prosecution may present forged documents, our team needs to be vigilant and pro-active considering the manner in which the proceedings before the tribunal is being conducted.

 

“Our people believe that with the way properties that have nothing to do with Saraki are being put on the charge sheet, there is the suspicion that the documents to sustain their claims may have been forged.
“All these, the experts will screen and help the lawyers with information that may help them.”

 

Credit : ThisDay

Gender Equality Bill: Saraki Bares His Mind

Senate President Bukola Saraki has advised Nigerian women to re-introduce the Gender Equality Bill, which was turned down by the National Assembly on Tuesday.
This is contained in a statement signed by Fatima Kakuri, Special Assistant on Gender and Equality to the President of the Senate and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja.
The bill seeking gender equality, sponsored by the Deputy Minority Whip of the Senate, Biodun Olujimi, was rejected by the Senate over alleged constitutional violations.
Mr. Saraki said although the bill had suffered setback, it could still be amended and re-introduced.
“Unfortunately, the bill suffered a slight setback because there were some parts of the bill that some senators disagreed with along the lines of religion and tradition.
“The beauty of democracy is that it gives us the opportunity to consider different opinions and this bill can still be represented and reconsidered on the floor of the Senate.
“I have it on good authority that Sen. Biodun Olujimi, who introduced this bill, will reintroduce it after re-drafting it to address some of the reservations that were expressed on the floor of the Senate.

“As I said during the International Women’s Day last week, I am of the opinion that there are substantial parts of the bill that are crucial to the development of our nation.
“Such bills like the Equal Access to Education, Strengthening of the laws on Violence against Women, Ending Abduction of Girls, Sustenance and Promotion of Entrepreneurship Opportunities, Gender Mainstreaming and Gender equality are equally important,” he said.
NAN reports that this was the third time the Gender Equality Bill would be rejected by the National Assembly, and the recent rejection has generated a lot of reactions from women groups.

Credit: NAN

Saraki Launches Speak To Senate President’s Suggestion Box

Senate President Bukola Saraki was joined by other senators to launch the Speak to Senate President suggestion boxes at the National Assembly Complex today November 24th.

 

The boxes will help staff and members of the public to send their suggestions directly to Saraki.

 

In a statement by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, he wrote:

 

Today, the 8th Senate marks another watershed moment in our vision to take lawmaking back to the people with the symbolic launching of the Senate President’s Suggestion Box.

Many may ask what we seek to achieve with this launch and wonder the correlation between the suggestion box and making laws. For the 8th Assembly, this event ticks all the boxes in terms of our vision which is to ensure that laws we
make impact on our peoples’ lives.
2. Again, we promised the Nigerian people that this 8thSenate will be different. That we will do things differently. Some thought we were playing rhetoric but our footprints are everywhere clearly showing we mean what we are saying. We have adopted our legislative agenda, we
are retooling our policy formulation process through closer engagement with key government agents, meeting with industry leaders,using courtesy call opportunities, to help us fully understand the state of things as we put together legislative interventions to help deal with the problems.
3. This Senate promised that we will be open to all Nigerians and engage them more robustly as we deliver laws with far reaching impact on their lives.For us this means having a strong feedback mechanism that is non-discriminatory, direct, open, uninhibited and continuous is equally as important.
4. With this launch today, we are saying that we are ready to hear and listen to all Nigerians of goodwill. With the Suggestion Box, which is both physical and virtual, we are saying we are interested in your opinion irrespective of your background, political orientation, social status, gender, religious or ethnic orientation. Be sure that this,
your suggestions, opinions and ideas will not go unnoticed.

The media is an important source of our feedback but hearing from you directly is for us much more enriching and unadulterated.
5. The 8th Senate is by this launch, inviting you to come share your experience with us. Whether you are an elected member, worker, tourists, government official, NGO, media or a co-citizen of this great country visiting the National Assembly, we invite you to come change Nigeria with us.
6. It is my hope that as we use this suggestion boxes and engage much
more closely with you our constituents we are able to build a much closer relationship and a much better National Assembly.
7. Ladies and Gentlemen: it is my great honour to formally launch, the Senate President Suggestion Box for the good of our people and to the glory of God.

 

See photos below:

3 2 1

 

No Amount Of Blackmail, Intimidation Will Stop TSA N25bn Probe – Saraki

Nigeria’s President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, has said that no amount of intimidation will stop the assembly from investigating the alleged N25 billion Treasury Single Account (TSA) fraud.

Saraki was reacting to a motion moved by Sen. Dino Melaye (APC-Kogi West) on Tuesday over a newspaper article allegedly blackmailing the Senate for pointing out the alleged fraud.

He said the assembly would not relent in carrying out its constitutional duties, including pointing out any action that would be detrimental to Nigerians.

“No amount of either blackmail or intimidation will stop us from doing the work we have to do.

“We have a responsibility here to ensure that there are no leakages in government funds and if there are, we will call the attention of the public and do whatever it takes to salvage the situation; it is our responsibility.

“The fact about the TSA will come out and everybody will have opportunity before the committee to state the fact, the facts will speak for themselves,” he said.

Saraki said the assembly would expedite action on the inauguration of Standing Committees to enable it to begin its oversight function fully.

Earlier, Melaye said his attention was drawn to the write-up accusing the Senate of working against President Muhammadu Buhari’s effort to implement TSA.

He expressed concern that the writer could conceive such an idea in spite of the National Assembly’s resolve to work with Buhari in fighting corruption.

Melaye recalled that it was the assembly’s stand on the alleged TSA fraud that led SystemSpecs to refund the one per cent it collected from mopped up funds to Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“The writer said we are against the change agenda of Mr President because we raised the abnormality going on with the implementation of the TSA.

“We did not at any time in this Hallowed Chamber implicate President Muhammadu Buhari of being involved in TSA fraud.

“We will not stop carrying out our legislative duties for fear of being blackmailed.

“The motion moved last week had two prayers.

“The first thing we did was to thank Mr President and commend him for the implementation of the TSA and for anyone to say the Senate is fighting Mr President is myopic, parochial and unacceptable.

“I have a letter here that I am going to lay with this paper, written by the Director, Banking and Payment of CBN to the Managing Director of SystemSpecs.

“The CBN categorically stated that they should remit the one per cent that they collected.

“I also have a letter here by the managing director of that company to the Accountant General of the Federation and the Governor of CBN that have completely buttressed and elicited our decision last week.

“So for people to blackmail us as irresponsible, it is not acceptable to me and the Senate.

“Never would we allow blackmail and political and economic bigots to destroy the people. We are for the people and we will stand in defence of public interest,” he said.

The write-up and letters cited by Melaye were referred to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition to be returned to Senate in one week.

The Senate had on November 11 raised alarm over alleged payment of N25 billion to one e-collection firm, REMITA, in one day as one per cent of monies transferred to TSA.

It also directed its Committee on Finance, Banking and other Financial Institutions and Public Accounts to carry out a holistic investigation into the matter and report back in two weeks.

 

Credit : PM News

NASS To Make Public 2016 Budget Breakdown

The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, on Sunday said the National Assembly would make public the details of the 2016 budget breakdown.
This is contained in a statement signed by the Special Assistant to the President of the Senate on Social Media, Mr Bamikole Omishore, and made available to newsmen in Abuja.
Saraki said that from 2016, Nigerians would not have to rely on the ‘’falsehood’’ they received from some online media.
He said that the development was in fulfilment of his inaugural promise and part of efforts to satisfy the curiosity of some Nigerians who had been clamouring that the budget should be made public.
“By the time we come into the 2016 budget, at the end of the year, it will be clearer because people just see one item line. But that is not going to happen now; you will see what goes to the Senate and what goes to the House of Representatives.

You are going to see what goes to the management, what goes to the Legislative Institute and we are going to make all these open and clear.

That is part of the openness we promised,’’ Saraki said in the statement.

 
He recalled that at his inauguration on June 9, he promised that there would be change from impunity and elite arrogance to a life of accountability and respect for every citizen.
He said that the National Assembly must, therefore, justify the privilege of representation conferred on it by the people.
“As the President of the 8th Senate and Chairman of the National Assembly, I shall be guided by the enormity of the responsibilities that this moment imposes on all of us,’’ he said.
Saraki restated his commitment to being accessible to the citizens on the dealings of the senate, saying that he understood the expectations of Nigerians from him as president of the senate.

 

(NAN)

Saraki vs CCT: Details Of Supreme Court Decision

The Supreme Court today in Abuja halted the trial of the Senate President Dr. Olubukola Abubakar Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal on charges of false assets declaration.
The trial initiated by the Federal Government against Saraki was put on hold by the Apex Court pending the time the court will determine the appeal file by Saraki in which he is challenging the legality of his trial at the CCT.

 
At the hearing of Saraki’s application for stay of proceedings at the CCT, prosecution counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs ( SAN) who had earlier objected to granting of stay of proceedings made a dramatic u-turn, with an undertaken that the prosecution will not go ahead any longer with the trial of Saraki once the Supreme Court can grant accelerated hearing in the pending substantive appeal.

 
Jacobs told the panel of five justices presided over by Justice John Afolabi Fabiyi that nothing on the side of the prosecution will be done to prejudice the apex court on the pending issue of Saraki before the court.
To ensure speedy hearing of the substantive appeal, Jacobs informed the court that he will file his brief of argument against substantive appeal of Saraki by next week Monday.
He then urged the court to compel the appellant (Saraki) to also file his own brief of arguments within two days so that an earlier date could be fixed for hearing of the substantive matter of the case.

 
The u-turn made by the Federal Government suddenly overtook the earlier objection to Saraki’s application seeking a stay of the trial by CCT.
In his argument against the application of Saraki for stay of further proceeding at the tribunal, Jacobs submitted that no court of law in the country has power to grant stay of proceedings in any criminal matter in view of the introduction of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.

 
He specifically said section 306 of the Act has removed the discretional and inherent powers of any court, including the Supreme Court to grant a stay of hearing in a criminal matter.

 
According to him, the motive of the legislature in enacting the ACJA was to put to an end the usual delay suffered in the prosecution of criminal matters, which had led to inability of the authority to curb corruption.

 

Earlier, counsel to Saraki, Joseph Daudu (SAN), who led seven other Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) to argue Saraki’s case had urged the apex court to stop the proceedings at the CCT pending the hearing of the substantive appeal.
Daudu told the court that the appellant is challenging the jurisdiction of tribunal and the legality of his trial at the tribunal.

 
Among others, Saraki claimed that the tribunal was not properly constituted with two members instead of three as required by law. He submitted that the apex court should put the trial at the CCT on hold pending the final determination of the main appeal.

 
Justice Fabiyi while ordering the proceedings at the CCT stopped, gave seven days each to both parties to file and exchange briefs of their arguments on the substantive appeal.

 
In line with the undertaken of Jacobs, the court ordered nothing should be done at the CCT level on the pending trial of the Senate President.
Justice Fabiyi announced that a date for hearing of substantive appeal will be communicated to parties as soon as the date is fixed.

 
Speaking with journalists after the brief ruling, Saraki’s lead counsel Mr. Joseph Daudu SAN said that the decision of the court and that of Jacobs had vindicated the decision of the lawyers who last week left the tribunal abruptly after obtaining the leave of the tribunal to withdraw from the trial.

 
With the decision of the Supreme Court, the Senate President will no longer appear at the CCT on November 19 as earlier fixed by the tribunal Chairman Mr. Danladi Yakubu Umar for the trial.

 

Credit : Vanguard

Supreme Court Suspends Saraki’s Trial at CCT

The Supreme Court this morning halted further proceedings in the trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal pending the determination of the appeal filed before the court.

Justice John Fabiyi leading a five-man panel of the court made the order today, after the Federal Government’s counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), had asked the court to give an undertaking that Saraki’s main appeal would be given an accelerated hearing.

Saraki’s lead counsel, Mr. Joseph Daudu (SAN), had argued his client’s motion for stay of the CCT’s proceedings.

In a unanimous decision read by Justice Fabiyi, the apex court ordered the tribunal “to tarry awhile.”

He ordered Jacobs to file his respondents’ brief in response to Saraki’s appellant’s brief served on him in court on Thursday within seven days.

The Supreme Court also ordered Daudu to file further response to Jacobs’ brief, if he so desired ?within seven days thereafter.

Justice Fabiyi said the date for the hearing of the appeal would be communicated to parties in due course.

The trial began 22 September and was last heard 5 November. Further hearing scheduled for 19 November, will no longer hold with today’s ruling.

The Senate president’s earlier appeal had on 30 October been dismissed at the Court of Appeal, in a split decision of 2-1 by the judges.

Justice Moore Agumanen, who read the majority verdict upheld the trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

The judges said the tribunal was properly constituted and that the tribunal led by Danladi Umar could sit with the chairman and one other member.

Agumanen said they relied on section 28 of the Interpretation Act to reach the decision.

He said the Code of Conduct Tribunal and Code of Conduct Bureau Act and the constitution did not talk about a quorum.

In a further blow to the Senate President, the majority judges said the CCT has criminal jurisdiction, though limited.

The judges also ruled that the Code of Conduct Tribunal has powers to issue a bench warrant.

The dissenting third judge, Justice Joseph Ekanem however ruled that Saraki’s appeal had merit.

 

Credit : PM News

NBA Exonerates Saraki’s Lawyers On ‘Walkout’

The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has exonerated lawyers to Senate President Bukola Saraki over reports that they allegedly walked out on the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, sitting at Abuja.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP had earlier called on the association to urgently investigate the conduct of lawyers describing the move by the lawyers as “disrespectful”.
Speaking on Monday at Udu, Delta State during the inauguration of the Udu branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, president of the association, Mr. Augustine Alegeh, SAN, while giving details on the disciplinary measures put in place by the association against erring members, stated that “the lawyers did nothing wrong in their action.”
He said: “I was at the airport on that Thursday and within an hour we caused letters to be issued to the lawyers involved.

They replied us the next day stating clearly that they applied to the court for a withdraw appearance for their client.
“The application was granted and they respectfully took leave of court and that words such as judicial rascality were never used and any reference to words of that nature was when they were reading to the court, the judgement of the Supreme Court in a case which they had cited.
“We have come out boldly to say that the lawyers have done nothing wrong if they had applied to the court to be allowed and they were discharged from further appearance, they were entitled to leave the court room, additionally, we confirmed that counsel Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, and a team of about 10 junior lawyers remained in court and the court did not have to bow to an empty bar.”

 

Credit : Vanguard

Photos from Buhari’s closed door meeting with Saraki, Dogara, other NASS leaders

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday night met with the leadership of the National Assembly at the Presidential Villa, behind closed doors.

The meeting, which took place at the First Lady’s Conference hall, was attended by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Senate Leader, Ali Ndume and Deputy Majority leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah.

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The meeting also had in attendance, Senator Godswill Akpabio, Phillip Aduda, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, including his Deputy, Yusuf Lasun and House Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Bubachir Lawan also attended the meeting.

The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who shared the photos on his official Facebook page wrote…

The meeting signifies a good working relationship between executive and legislative arms of Nigeria’s Federal Government, which is a necessity for national development. Additionally, the meeting demonstrates that the nation is working.”

Senate may involve EFCC, ICPC in ministerial screening

The Senate leadership will adopt the formal procedure for the screening of ministerial nominees behind closed doors on Tuesday. It may also involve anti-graft agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission in the screening of those nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari to become ministers under the present administration.

A principal officer, who craved anonymity, disclosed this during an interview in Abuja on Monday.

He said the Senate at the close-door meeting would discuss whether to give special considerations for former senators and other members of the National Assembly nominated as ministerial candidates by Buhari.

The principal officer, explained that the meeting became necessary in view of the fact that the leadership of the Eighth Senate had vowed to do a thorough job to ensure that persons with questionable characters were not confirmed as ministers.

He said, “As far as we are concerned, everybody should be equal but at the same time, we have a convention that gives special considerations to former and serving senators or members of the House of Representatives, yet we say there won’t be the usual take a bow approach.

“We also have another convention that says two senators from a state must approve confirmation of the nominee from their state, what happens if the senators are in the opposition party with the nominee?”

Speaking with some journalists in his office, the Peoples Democratic Party member representing Abia North Senatorial District, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa, said President Buhari must appear before the Senate if he wants to be Petroleum minister.

Ohuabunwa said, “The constitution is clear and we will follow the constitution and the laid down rule. I don’t think the President’s name will be on the list and I also don’t think that the President will say he is a minister.

“If you are a minister one of the conditions is that you must be subjected to screening and approval of the Senate. He, as the chief minister, can be there to supervise any ministry but he cannot be a minister. Whoever is advising him to be a minister is not advising him rightly.”

But the Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah, disagreed with Ohuabunwa on the appearance of the President in the Senate for screening before he could function as a minister.

Na’Allah, in a telephone interview explained that the President and his vice, had been given constitutional powers to carry out all the functions in the executive arms of government without necessarily asking for the permission of the legislature.

He said, “The President does not have to appear before the Senate before he could perform as a minister or oversee any ministry. He has the executive powers to carry out necessary functions alongside the vice president. “

Ohuabunwa, however, added that the Senate might reject the presentation of the ministerial list in batches because “it is unconstitutional.”

He said, “I expect that the list will be complete for us to move on because the constitution never said in batches and the constitution has said one minister from every state, so if you are screening and the other states are not been represented how can you explain that because nothing says that the President must submit list in batches.

The senator assured Nigerians that the Senate would be guided by the constitution and the rules of the Senate in screening the nominees.

He added that it would be against the Senate and indeed against the President and Nigerians for the upper chamber to see a very strong allegation of petition on corruption and throw it away.

He said, “Definitely we will not ignore allegation of corruption against any nominee. If we see a strong petition, definitely we will look into it and follow it to a logical conclusion.

“If it requires writing to the anti-graft agencies such as the ICPC or EFCC to give us a report on such a person, we will do that because that is what screening is all about. Screening is not a tea party.

“Integrity is very important. If you have in one way or the other soiled your hands, it will be unfortunate because the Senate will not just say carry go.”

On whether the Senate would waive the painstaking process in order to curry favour from the Presidency, Ohuabunwa said the Senate would not be cowed because of any consideration.

Here is the copy of the Ministerial nominees’ list as unveiled by the Senate President today, October 6, 2015.

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Punch

Judge hands off Saraki’s case over online reports

Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Wednesday handed off a case, filed by Senate President, Bukola Saraki challenging his trial before the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

Mohammed said he decided to hand off the case following an online publication alleging that he had made unsuccessful efforts to stop Saraki from being tried by the tribunal.

The judge, who denied the allegation, however, ordered that the case file be remitted to the Chief Judge of the court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, for re-assigning to another judge.

He said that the decision was taking in the interest of justice.

“My attention has been drawn to some publications in the social media against my person with regards to this case.

“In the said publications, it was alleged that I have tried unsuccessfully to stop the Code of Conduct Tribunal from trying Sen. Olubukola Saraki.

“I have never made restraining order against any of the defendants, in particular, the code of conduct tribunal, via a motion ex-parte or any motion at all,’’ he said.

Mohammed added that the court was conversant with the workings of the tribunal and would not grant ex-parte order to stop any public institution from carrying out its statutory duties.

It will be recalled that Saraki had dragged the Federal Ministry of Justice and the Chairman, Code of Conduct Tribunal, to court over his arraignment before the tribunal.

Justice Mohammed had reportedly granted an ex-parte order summoning the defendants to appear before his court to show cause, why Saraki should be prosecuted before the tribunal over the alleged offences of false assets declaration.

It will also be recalled that the court of appeal had declined the same ex-parte application granted by the judge and ordered that Saraki should appear before the tribunal.

The Senate President had been arraigned before the tribunal on a 13-count charge bordering on false assets declaration.

He had pleaded not guilty to the charges before the tribunal.

(NAN)

We Will Grill Ministerial Nominees- Saraki

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, yesterday said screening of ministerial nominees being expected from President Muhammadu Buhari before the end of the week, would be thorough and comprehensive.

Saraki gave the hint while welcoming senators to plenary in Abuja after a long recess.

He said screening of the nominees would be in-depth to ensure that only competent and qualified individuals occupied ministerial positions.

“As we await the list of ministerial nominees this week, we are prepared to treat the screening with dispatch but with thoroughness.

“I believe the presence of ministers will create the space for greater policy engagement with the executive arm of government.

“I want to urge you all my colleagues to ensure that what is uppermost in our minds as we begin the constitutional task of screening of ministerial nominees is the overall interest of our country.

“Once the list is submitted, let us ensure that we treat it with dispatch and thoroughness. We must not be held down by unnecessary politicking.

“The enormity of our national challenges at this time does not give room for pettiness or politics of vendetta,” Saraki said.

Read More: nationalmirroronline

Pro-Saraki groups barricade National Assembly

Hundreds of protesters on Tuesday barricaded the entrance of the National Assembly in Abuja, singing solidarity songs in support of the embattled Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who is currently facing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal over alleged falsification of documents in his assets declaration form when he was governor in Kwara State.

The protesters, who carried placards with different inscriptions such as, “Enough is enough, we support Saraki and Ekweremadu,” warned anti-graft agencies to desist from being used to witch-hunt perceived “political enemies.”

Pro-Lawan senators move to impeach Saraki

Members of the Senate Unity Forum on Friday began wooing senators loyal to the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, as part of fresh efforts to impeach him.

The group comprises senators, who were opposed to the emergence of Saraki as senate president.

It was learnt that the SUF members, who contacted the pro-Saraki senators, hinged their argument on the ongoing trial of the Senate President at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

It was gathered that the group might have succeeded in securing the support of 12 pro-Saraki senators, mainly the Peoples Democratic Party members.

Investigations showed that the anti-Saraki group sought the support of the senate president’s loyalists because it had become obvious that the senate president could not be removed without the support of some senators that were sympathetic to him.

At the inauguration of the Senate on June 6, 57 out of 109 senators were reported to have voted for Saraki.

However, members of the SUF, who were supporting Senator Ahmed Lawan were at a meeting with the party leaders when the election was held.

Investigations revealed that some of the senators who supported Lawan’s bid had allegedly met with some All Progressives Congress leaders on the need to remove Saraki.

It was gathered that they started meeting with the leaders shortly after the Senate went on recess.

Specifically, a member of the group, who spoke on conditions of anonymity, explained that series of meetings had been held with APC leaders like Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun and Chief Bisi Akande.

A member of the group from the South-West geopolitical zone, who also craved anonymity, confirmed that the SUF members had started reaching out to their colleagues who had joined the camp of Saraki.

He expressed optimism that the group would be able to muster enough support from other senators to get the required 73 members needed to oust the senate president.

He said, “We know that getting the required figure to carry out an impeachment at the moment would be a herculean task but honestly we hope to achieve it very soon. Already there has been a serious move to get our former party members who are with Saraki now back to our camp.

“I can also confirm to you that we have the support of about 12 Peoples Democratic Party senators who are ready to support any move against Saraki. Don’t forget that some ranking PDP senators are still aggrieved over the emergence of freshers as their principal officers.”

Further checks by one of our correspondents also revealed that some of the APC leaders who met with the SUF members had asked the anti – Saraki senators to work on some influential PDP senators who could get their colleagues to support their course.

A source said, “I am not in Abuja now, we shall resume on Monday. I don’t have specific information at the moment but what I can assure you of is that our leaders have said that it is fight to finish.

“We learnt that the like minds senators are already working on some of their supporters in the PDP camp to reject the ministerial list by refusing to screen them but we are also ready for them. I won’t disclose our strategy for now.”

It was further learnt that the SUF were also working on a political solution to execute its agenda since it would be difficult for its members to dangle financial inducements to their colleagues because of the anti – corruption posture of the Buhari administration.

One of them said that Saraki might want to save his face from the impending embarrassment at the end of the CCT trial by opting to step aside.

He said, “We know that he might want to give conditions like a settlement of his CCT case out of court, withdrawing of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission charges against his wife and an end to his former manager’s trial for alleged fraud at the Société Générale Bank. We could help him in this regard to have a soft landing and avoid disgrace. “

Senate spokesperson, who is also a die-hard supporter of Saraki, Senator Dino Melaye, did not pick his call when contacted for comments on Thursday

Also efforts to get reaction of the SUF’s spokesperson, Senator Kabiru Marafa, did not succeed as calls to his mobile telephone did not go through.

Also some senators contacted across the two camps, declined official comments but a PDP senator from the South-South geopolitical zone, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “We are watching events as they unfold. I won’t say more than that.”

The source explained off the record that since the trial of the senate president centered on corrupt enrichment as a public officer, the SUF would appeal to the conscience of Nigerians and the international community to prevail on Saraki to step aside and clear himself of the allegations preferred against him by the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

Part of the strategy, the source added, would include sponsoring of a motion by a member of the group to draw the attention of the red chamber to the trial of Saraki and plead with him to safe himself from unnecessary distraction by stepping aside for adequate concentration at the tribunal.

He said, “Nigerians should not see the on-going trial of the senate president as a witch-hunt, rather, they should rather try and find out whether it was true that he included a multi – million dollar property he bought in 2006 as part of his assets as of 2003.

“We should stop playing politics with everything in this country. The mantra of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is anti – corruption and it will not be proper to have a morally deficient person presiding over the affairs of the legislature being a critical arm of government.

“The prosecution counsel had promised to shock Nigerians with the revelations of witnesses who had testified against the senate president at the CCT. The implication of this is that all the charges were not fabricated or invented to spite him. He should therefore go and face his trial. “

Attempts to get the reactions of the National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed as well as that of the party’s National Leader, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, were unsuccessful.

The National Chairman of the party could not be reached as calls to his mobile telephone indicated that it was switched off.

Repeated calls to the mobile telephone numbers of Mohammed and Tinubu’s Spokesperson, Mr. Sunday Dare, were neither picked nor returned.

A pro-Saraki senator added that the seat of the Senate President was not threatened because the Code of Conduct Tribunal had no jurisdiction to try Senator Bukola Saraki for any criminal offence.

He said, “The idea that members of the SUF are reaching out to pro-Saraki senators in the senate does not arise because majority of the members of the upper chamber had freely elected their presiding officers and would not be in a hurry to remove them because of any politically motivated trial by a tribunal which lacks jurisdiction to do so.

“Nobody can impeach or arrest the Senate President, and the lawyers are there to argue out the competence or otherwise of the CCT to try the case preferred against him. More than 80 senators had signed a document with which they unanimously passed a vote of confidence on their president.

“No senator had approached any of us on any issue of impeachment because they know the answer already. They cannot get 73 senators to impeach the Senate President. They are playing games and we are also ready for them. “

Attempts to speak with Senators Dino Melaye, Eyinnaya Abaribe, Hope Uzodinma, James Manager, Mao Ohuabunwa, Ali Ndume, and Bala Ibn Na’Allah, to get their views on the development failed as they neither picked their calls not react to text messages sent to them.

Credit : Punch

Tribunal grants Saraki bail on self recognition; adjourns case till October 21

The tribunal has adjourned hearing on Saraki’s case till October 21, 2015. The Senate president was granted bail on self recognition.

Senate President Bukola Saraki arrived at the Code of Conduct Tribunal in Abuja, in company with his deputy, Ike Ekeweremadu, former governor of Sokoto State, Wamako, and several senators.

Premium Times reports that the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, pleaded “not guilty” on Tuesday to multiple charges of fraud brought against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau.

He was thereafter granted bail on self recognition.

He faces a 13-count charge bordering on corruption and alleged false declaration of assets.

Mr. Saraki arrived the tribunal Tuesday morning after failing to appear on Friday and Monday.

As the case opened, Mr. Saraki’s lawyers argued that the matter was not a criminal case, and challenged the jurisdiction of the tribunal.

The prosecution opposed the argument. The tribunal ruled that the matter was criminal and directed Mr. Saraki to go ahead with his plea.

“I hold that the trial before the tribunal is purely criminal,” said the chairman of the tribunal.

On jurisdiction, the prosecution counsel argued that according to section 2 of the Administration of Justice Act, 2015, the matter could be heard alongside any preliminary objection regarding the tribunal’s jurisdiction.

The new law was signed by former President Goodluck Jonathan in March 2015, as part of a major reform of Nigeria’s criminal justice system.

The Act is expected to speed up corruption cases before the courts, by dealing with issues of preliminary objections, adjournments, and jurisdiction.

The law says such objections must be addressed by the courts concurrently with the corruption charge, unlike the past when interlocutory injunctions could go to the Supreme Court and return, before the main trial begins.

Asked to take his plea, Mr. Saraki said, “I believe that I am here as the Senate president to indicate my respect for the tribunal. I am puzzled why I am being compelled”.

He pleaded not guilty.

On the various assets he acquired, which the Code of Conduct Bureau said his earnings did not qualify him to acquire, Mr. Saraki said he got them through his investment in rice farming.

He pleaded not guilty to the charge concerning his failure to declare his assets when he was Kwara State governor.

He also denied making false declaration of assets.

He pleaded not guilty on the charge regarding his alleged use of foreign bank accounts while serving as a public officer in Nigeria.

Mr. Saraki arrived the tribunal premises at 9:32 a.m., accompanied by “about 50 senators and some members of the House of Representatives”, his spokesperson, Yusuph Olaniyonu, told PREMIUM TIMES.

Some of the senators in court, according to a PREMIUM TIMES reporter at the trial, are Theodore Orji, Sam Egwu, Ike Ekweremadu, Shaba Lafiaji, Aliyu Wamakko, Rafiu Ibrahim, Tayo Alasoadura, Hamma Misau, Samuel Anyanwu, Sabi Aliyu Abdullahi, among others.

This newspaper learnt that the Senate President and his supporters first converged on the National Assembly early on Tuesday morning from where they took off in a convoy of buses for the tribunal.

One of the senators, who asked not to be named, said he and his colleagues decided to provide cover for the senate president to prevent him from being arrested or humiliated by the police.

A supporter of the Senate President, now also inside the courtroom, told PREMIUM TIMES, “We are already seated. No shaking. The plan is to humiliate the man, not minding if they break the law or violate the procedure.

“We have nothing to fear. After Saraki has exercised his fundamental human rights in relevant courts, we are here to to show the lies contained in the charges.”

Mr. Saraki had on Monday released a statement, saying he was now ready to attend his trial, days after he battled frantically to use the courts to halt the trial.

The matter was adjourned to 21st, 22nd and 23rd October for hearing.

 

Source : Premium Times

 

Bukola Saraki in new 13-count corruption scandal

Nigeria’s Senate President and former governor of Kwara State, Bukola Saraki, will begin a fresh bid to get himself out of corruption claims filed against him by the The Code of Conduct Bureau (CBC).

The CBC slammed a 13-count charge of corruption on Saraki, whose wife, Toyin had to answer for corruption allegations at anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in July.

In charge number ABT/01/15, dated September 11 and filed before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Saraki is accused of offences which include anticipatory declaration of assets, false declaration of assets in forms he filed before the Code of Conduct Bureau while he was governor of Kwara state.

According to the charges, obtained by online news outfit, PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday morning, the Senate President is also accused of failing to declare some assets he acquired while in office as governor.

 

Among other offences, including allegedly acquiring assets beyond his legitimate earnings, Saraki is also accused of operating foreign accounts while being a public officer – governor and senator.

The offences, the charge said, violated sections of the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended.

 

Saraki is also said to have breached Section 2 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act and punishable under paragraph 9 of the said Fifth Schedule of the Constitution.

The charges were prepared by M.S. Hassan, a deputy director in the office of the Attorney General of the Federation. It is not clear on Wednesday morning whether the document had been served on Mr. Saraki, Nigeria’s number three man.

 

Read full charges below:

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Culled from Premium Times

Saraki donates N500k each to law graduates

The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on Friday donated his pension as a former Governor of Kwara State to Tosin Mohammed and Adam Ndakuku; the two best graduating students of the Faculty of Law, University of Ilorin, for the 2014/2015 academic session in fulfilment of his campaign promises.

While presenting N500, 000 cheque under the aegis of Abubakar Bukola Saraki Pension Scholarship Scheme to each of the beneficiaries, Saraki said ABSPSS would give priority to indigent, but brilliant students who are indigenes of Kwara State.

  “My aim is to ensure that the fund is used as a form of social security to support existing state scholarship scheme. The plan is to further give vent to my belief that government alone cannot effectively take care of the needs of our people.

“Individuals who are well endowed and blessed should support government’s efforts. That is one of the things that today’s occasion represents.

“It is also my belief that the best resource Nigeria has to propel her development is her human resource. The best brains in the world are in this country. Those who can change the course of Nigeria’s development and make it faster and in compliance with world standard are already here.

“Today, the two people to whom we are presenting the scholarship awards made First Class in Law, particularly in a world-rated University like our own University of Ilorin. This is the calibre of people for which this scholarship scheme is meant,” Saraki said.

“Saraki Has Refused To Assign Any Senate Committee To Me” – Tinubu

Wife of the national leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Oluremi Tinubu, representing Lagos Central senatorial district at the Senate, has said that she is yet to be assigned a committee, in spite of the fact that some standing and ad hoc committees had been constituted by the leadership under Senator Bukola Saraki.

Senator Tinubu disclosed this on Wednesday, at the 15th edition/first in the eighth Senate of Lagos Central Senatorial District town hall meeting, with the theme: “New Chapter, Hope Renewed,” organised by her.

According to her, three standing committees and six ad hoc committees had, so far, been set up by the Senate leadership.

Tinubu said she was unable to brief her constituents on her activities in the eighth session of the Senate because she had not been assigned any committee yet, but promised to give more concrete information at another town hall meeting.

Earlier, Senator Tinubu had endorsed Governor Akinwumi Ambode for a second term in office, ahead 2019 election, declaring that the incumbent would do a second term.

I Stepped Down For Buhari In 2015 Presidential Elections -Saraki

Denying reports that he is nursing an ambition for presidency in 2019, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has said he actually quit his presidential bid in the 2015 election for President Muhammadu Buhari and also that he contributed immensely to the emergence of Buhari as President.

The Senate President, who spoke to select journalists in an exclusive interview in Abuja on Saturday, also denied having plans to dump the All Progressives Congress due to the ongoing crisis in the party over his leadership of the Senate. He said what remains paramount in his mind at the moment is how to support the Buhari-led administration to tackle the various social and economic problems confronting the country.

Saraki said, “I was the first person that stepped down his political ambition, once General Buhari announced that he was going to contest the presidential election. And since then, prior to the period of election, I worked tirelessly to support his emergence.

“Even some of my friends who are not supporting me now are doing so because I did not support them in their presidential ambition and that I supported President Buhari. That is why I find it funny that the same people are now claiming to love Buhari more than me. It is a very funny world.

“These are people that I was begging to leave the stage for Buhari to run since all of us are young. They are now the one going round to say that Saraki did not like Buhari but time will tell.”

The Presidency, however, faulted Saraki’s claim of stepping down for Buhari ahead of the presidential election.

Saraki had on October 13, 2014, announced the suspension of his presidential bid in the interest of the country and his party. He, however, did not state which of the other aspirants he was going to back.

Saraki’s statement then partly read, “I decided to step down my ambition because Nigeria’s political outlook for 2015 is very complicated and this is the time for every patriotic politician to situate his personal ambition in the context of the country’s overall interest.

“I don’t think our party can afford too much internal rancour going into next year’s election. I, therefore, think some of us need to make the sacrifice and be part of the solution rather than part of the problem of the party.”

This will be Saraki’s first personal response to the ongoing crisis that is trailing his controversial emergence as the President of the Senate on June 9.

Saraki had led a faction of APC senators, under the auspices of the Like Minds Senators, to defy the party’s choice of Ahmad Lawan as the Senate President.

In what many have described as a ‘coup’, the pro-Saraki group had allied with the opposition lawmakers in the Peoples Democratic Party to make Saraki leader of the upper chamber of the legislature in the absence over 50 APC senators.

A similar scenario had also played out in the House of Representatives where Yakubu Dogara opposed Femi Gbajabiamila, the choice candidate of his party, to emerge Speaker of the House.

Explaining what happened on the National Assembly leadership election day, Saraki said he smuggled himself into the chamber on the day the 8th Assembly was inaugurated when he became aware of an alleged plan to abduct and prevent him from standing for the Senate presidential election

The Senate President also defended his absence from the International Conference Centre venue of a proposed meeting between President Buhari and APC lawmakers on the day of the election.

He insisted that he did not receive any invitation for the meeting.

Saraki said, “As regards the meeting, on the morning of the inauguration, I didn’t finish meeting until 4am of that day and I had got information that efforts would likely be made to make sure that I didn’t get access into the chambers.

He said the plan before was that senators-elect should go to the Transcorp Hilton Hotel around 8:00am and 9:00am to proceed to the National Assembly.

The Senate President said he was, however, advised against going to the chamber at the scheduled time as there were plans to stop him from being part of the day’s proceedings.

Saraki said he got into the National Assembly Complex as early as 6:00am and stayed in a car in the car park from then till quarter to 10:00am. He noted that all through the period, there was no communication to him.

“So, anybody who said they spoke to me to go the ICC was not true because I didn’t even know what was going on. All I was monitoring was how people were arriving at the complex. It was at quarter to 10:00am that I got information that the Clerk to the National Assembly had entered the chamber.”

The APC, however, described Saraki’s non-invitation claim as a lie, saying all senators-elect were invited to the said meeting.

Saraki, a two-term ex-Governor of Kwara State and former Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, said it was at that point that he got down from the “small car” in which he was hiding and entered the chamber.

“Even when I was in the chambers, I didn’t know what had transpired earlier on. The only thing I observed was that it appeared that some of our senators were not in the chamber. But for the fact that my colleagues arrived in batches, I had the opinion that they were on their way. And by 10:00am, the programme started.

“Before I knew it, my election had come and gone. Even, my people were worried. It was only when I got into the chambers that they were relieved,” Saraki added.

The Senate President also dismissed his alleged pact with the PDP to elect Ike Ekweremadu as Deputy Senate President.

Ekweremadu of the PDP, who occupied same position in the last Senate, had been re-elected as Saraki’s deputy in the Senate that has the APC as majority.

The Senate President, however, insisted that that it was the absence of the APC Senators from the chamber that caused the emergence of Ekweremadu as his deputy.

He said, “Never in our wildest imagination did we envisage that some senators would not be present on the day of the inauguration. In my view, and in the view of some of those who worked closely with me, I worked hard for my election. I had direct contact with every single senator; one on one. Weeks to the election, I did not rely on anybody. I worked hard, both in our party, the APC, and out of it.

“I approached every senator, I talked to them. We built confidence, not only in the APC, but, also, in the PDP. I talked to them. That was why I laugh when people said that I had a deal with Ekweremadu or I had a hand in the emergence of Ekweremadu.”

Saraki stated that he did not need any deal to win the election, saying he had “penetrated everywhere.”

Speaking further on the penetration, he said, “One of the meetings was held at Transcorp Hilton and Senator Godswill Akpabio and Senator Ibrahim Gobir co-chaired it. Both the APC and the PDP members were present.

“At that meeting, if you heard most of them there, the position they took was that ‘this is the Senate President they want. Across party lines, they said that they believe in me and that this is the Senate President that can lead us. There was no deal.”

Saraki, who described Ekweremadu’s deputy Senate presidency as painful and unfortunate, maintained that it was caused by the absence of his APC colleagues. He recalled that the PDP senators had announced to the public that they were supporting him.

He further said, “With regard to the deputy, when they told us that they had a candidate, we, too, told them we had a candidate for Deputy Senate President in the person of Senator Ali Ndume.

“We never, in our imagination, thought they (other APC senators) would not turn up. By the time we got there, we were only 24 while the PDP was more than 40.

“It is unfortunate that we have a PDP man as deputy Senate President. It is painful. It is painful for any APC member because when we went through the struggle. That was not what we signed for.”

Saraki said it was unfair to put the blame on “one side” because it was a combination of errors and miscalculations that led having some senators at another place instead of being on the floor of the Senate on that day.

“So, to suggest that it was out of a desperate act to emerge (as Senate President) is what I reject completely and those who followed the events would know that I didn’t have that deal to emerge,” he stated.

Saraki also disagreed with insinuations that he went against the position of the party which had allegedly zoned the position of the Senate president to a particular region.

“At no time was any decision taken by the party to zone the position to any particular zone,” he stated.

Saraki also said he had had personal discussions with the Lawan and they had allegedly deliberated extensively on how to collectively move the Senate forward in the interest of the senators, the APC and members of the public.

He said, “I also have an opportunity to sit down and discuss with Senator Ahmad Lawan as part of our reconciliation efforts. I am confident that this matter will soon fizzle out because we are making serious efforts.”

Saraki further said serious arrangements were already ongoing to unite the various sides to the crisis, even as he hinted that he had reached out to the leaders of the party, President Buhari and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, on how to collectively move the country forward.

“Regards to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; as you all know, he is one of the leaders of the party. I have great respect for him. We have worked closely together before. Unfortunately my group did not agree with him on this issue.

“However, we are both responsible and committed to the project of the party and Nigeria that we will overcome this and move forward. It is part of our plans, as part of the healing process, to meet with him and it will happen soon,” Saraki added.

Saraki did not step down for Buhari – Presidency

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, on Saturday, said there was no truth in the claim by Saraki that he stepped down for President Buhari in the APC presidential race.

Adesina, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said the issue of stepping down did not arise because the party conducted a free and fair presidential primary which Buhari won.

The presidential spokesman said all Nigerians know those who took part in the party primary.

Adesina said, “There was no issue of stepping down during the presidential race in the APC. There was a presidential primary that was plain, transparent, free and fair.

“We all know those who were involved in the primary; all Nigerians know those who participated in the APC presidential primary and President Buhari emerged the winner of that process.”

When asked if Saraki had reached out to the President as he claimed, Adesina said, “The President has always maintained that the party is supreme. The party started a process which was truncated.

“The President has always maintained that those who truncated or aborted the process were the ones who precipitated crisis.

“The President had said in earlier statements that he would work with anybody who emerged the Senate President, but then, that did not include those who will subvert (the process).”

‘Saraki snubbed Buhari to emerge Senate president’

A leader of the APC, who spoke to SUNDAY PUNCH on the condition of anonymity, said Saraki was only trying to be clever by half.

The leader of the party, who spoke in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents on Saturday, said Saraki had boxed himself into a corner.

“Saraki is simply trying to be clever by half. He is in a fix and he is trying to justify his illegal actions,” the source said.

He added, “Saraki is bound by the nation’s constitution to read the party’s list without any amendment. If the PDP had sent him their own list of principal officers, will he tamper with it or won’t the PDP send their own list?”

Insisting that the Senate President lied about not being invited to the ICC meeting, the reliable party source said Saraki was invited.

The source said, “He is lying if he said he was not invited to the ICC meeting. All National Assembly members-elect were invited via an SMS.

“He deliberately snubbed the President because he had already struck a deal with the PDP to actualise his inordinate ambition in defiance of his party’s position.

 

Culled From Punch

 

Saraki Tells APC His Hands Were Tied Over Selection Of NASS Principal Officers

In a letter written to the All Progressives Congress, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has said his hands were tied in regards to the selection of principal officers of the upper chamber.

In his letter dated June 25, he said…

“The said letter (Oyegun’s letter) was received after various APC zonal caucuses had taken their decisions to candidates as principal officers of the senate in line with parliamentary convention and the extant provisions of the senate standing orders 2015 as amended.”

“Furthermore, whilst one is strongly persuaded to toe party line and act in accordance with the suggested party position, regrettably clear provisions of our extant rules and standard parliamentary convention have not given me that leeway to act otherwise.

“Therefore, my hands are tied in the circumstances and I seek your understanding in this regard.”

However, he added that without equivocation he remained “loyal to our great party and its leadership and also fully committed to the change agenda of the Mr. President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

It will be recalled that the National Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, had on June 23, written to Saraki, stating the party’s choice of principal officers of the senate as the APC had nominated Ahmad Lawan as senate majority leader, George Akume as deputy majority leader, Olusola Adeyeye as chief whip, and Abu Ibrahim as deputy chief whip.

However, Saraki, on Thursday, announced Ali Ndume as majority leader, Bala Na’Allah as deputy majority leader and Francis Alimikhena as deputy chief whip after the various APC senate caucuses nominated them.

Meanwhile, the APC in Ondo State has said that the party is not to blame for the leadership crisis in the National Assembly. The party said Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, should be blamed for the division in the party.

“As principal officers representing APC in the National Assembly, they are expected to carry out the party’s directives in terms of who occupies the positions.

“Therefore, Nigerians should hold Saraki and Dogara responsible for the crisis rocking the National Assembly. They are working against the party that sponsored them by initiating an unholy alliance with the PDP to truncate the ‘change’ that the people expect,” it said in a statement.

Saraki Dumps APC’s Plan, May Contest with Ekweremadu

Senator Bukola Saraki is not letting go easily.

But the initial plans to get Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senators-elect and members of the House of Reps-elect to vote massively for certain principal officers during Tuesday’s inauguration of the Eighth National Assembly in Abuja has collapsed.This is because there is a split among some PDP governors on who to support between Senator Bukola Saraki and the APC preferred candidate, Senator Ahmed Lawan for Senate President.
According to The Nation, it was learnt that at a meeting of PDP Senators-elect in Abuja, 28 agreed to back the Saraki/Ike Ekweremadu ticket; 17 agreed to back Lawan/Akume ticket. That was after Saraki decided to work with PDP in a desperate move to win the race.

Some senators rejected suggestion by Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose that they should vote Saraki.Lawan had emerged the choice candidate of the APC after a mock election by the party’s senators-elect. But the Saraki camp rejected the straw poll and vowed to contest for the position on the floor.The APC is the majority party in the Senate, with 59 senators-elect. The PDP has 49 senators.At a meeting held by the PDP caucus on Sunday night in former Senate President David Mark’s residence in Apo, Abuja, the divided PDP senators-elect and their governors were said to have threatened to draft one of them into the race if the APC failed to agree on a consensus candidate.
A source said: “The surprise of the night was that some of the governors who Goodluck Jonathan laboured to install were those at the vanguard of the Saraki project, a man who practically destroyed PDP.“Most senators at the meeting viewed supporting Saraki as robbing Peter to pay Paul. They contended that it will be bad politics to reward a man who took up arms against his party, destroyed it and moved to build another one.”The meeting ended without all the Senators agreeing on a final decision on backing Saraki.

Fmr PDP Spokesman Cautions Party’s Lawmakers Against Voting Saraki As Senate President

A former acting National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Bode Ojomu, has warned the party against supporting any of its defectors for either positions of Senate President or Speaker of the House of Representatives.

He said those who defected from PDP to All Progressives Congress could not turn back to the party they decimated for succour.

Ahead of the highly anticipated election of principal officers for the National Assembly today, the PDP has reportedly directed its members to vote Yakubu Dogara and Bukola Saraki as Speaker and President of the Senate respectively in defiance of APC, whose official candidates for the respective positions are Femi Gbajabiamila and Ahmed Lawan.

Mr. Saraki is a former member of the PDP and he would be remembered for playing a major role in the decimation of the party’s ranks when he directed his loyalists including Kwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, to defect along with him to APC in 2013.

But Ojomu, in a statement Monday night, warned the PDP against playing politics of “pay-back time” against the APC.

The statement said: “It is worrisome to observe that many of those who walked out were former PDP members who joined the APC and are acting out exactly the same script of ‘give a dog a bad name to hang it’ adopted as strategy to exit from the PDP for their safe landing in the APC.

“Today, by their actions and inactions alongside, other several factors left PDP comatose and one wonders if everybody acted like them who will be PDP senators and House of Representatives members to be now courted to defend their interest for victory at all cost against their ruling party’s official position.

“They decimated the PDP and now want to rely on it as strength to climb to number three and four in our nation. That’s crass opportunism and the PDP leaders in the Red and Green Chambers should not provide themselves as ready tools for self-serving pursuits.

“Strengthening party supremacy, party discipline, national stability and cohesion in government are the gains of PDP in National Assembly, standing firm that any political party official position or policy shall stand.

“Nigeria needs men of stable character. After all, those who stand for nothing fall for anything. The men and women that constitute the Nigeria’s Legislature must stand for something and in these circumstances it is principled position on party supremacy, notwithstanding that the former A.C.N botched that principle in the choice of speakership in 2011”.

Ojomu said the APC had the right to put forward those who should be on its platform in the National Assembly leadership.

The statement said: “Let it be noted that if the party was ever right to sponsor senatorial/House of Representatives candidate for election, it must also be right to determine who to put forward on its platform.

“No responsible political party in a democratic process that outlaws individual, independent candidate for elective offices will abdicate its historical and natural responsibility to present a sole candidate for each of the NASS Principal Offices.

“It will be unconventional for APC to watch helplessly for its members to contest in a free for all manner in the Red and Green Chambers.

“The gladiators need to drop sophistry in their argument and be educated that there is nothing undemocratic in the ruling party adopted open balloting process as opposed to secret balloting that was preferred by contending parties. Option A4 adopted in the Third Republic with SDP and NRC was adjudged one of the best democratic processes this country has ever witnessed. You queue behind your preferred candidate or party”

Confusion In APC Over N’Assembly Leadership

Strong indications emerged on Tuesday that a crisis is brewing within the All Progressives Congress over the zoning of National Assembly leadership posts such as the Senate Presidency and the Speakership of the House of Representatives.

A senate presidential candidate, Senator Bukola Saraki, had on Tuesday tweeted that the party’s National Working Committee had zoned the headship of the Senate to the North-Central.

Saraki stated, “I am delighted that the NWC (National Working Committee) of our dear party yesterday (Monday) reaffirmed its earlier decision to zone (the) position of Senate President to the North- Central.”

Besides Saraki, who is from Kwara State, which is located in the North-Central zone, Senator Ahmad Lawan from Yobe State in the North-East, is also contesting the senate presidency.

Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila from Lagos State in the South-West is contesting the speakership of the House of Representatives with Yakubu Dogara of Bauchi State (North-East) and Muhammed Mungono of Borno State (North-East).

But in an apparent reference to Saraki, the APC NWC denied reports that it had zoned the Senate Presidency to the North-Central and the Speakership of the House of Representatives to the South-West.

The party, in a statement signed by its National Secretary, Mai Mala Buni, on Tuesday, said that such an agreement existed in the figment of the imagination of its authors.

The party said, “Nothing like that ever happened.”

Read more at punchng

Senate Presidency Must Remain In North Central – Kwara APC

The Kwara State chapter of All Progressives Congress, APC, on Tuesday pleaded with the national leadership of the party to keep faith with the zoning arrangement, which ceded the position of the Senate President to the North-Central geo-political zone.

This formed part of the resolutions of the state working committee of the party at the end of its meeting in Ilorin, the capital.

The party also organized a special prayer session to seek divine intervention for the aspiration of its leader, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to become the Senate President in the 8th Senate.

The Kwara APC insisted that the number three position in the country should remain in the North-Central in the interest of fairness, justice and equity.

In a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting of its central working committee, the APC noted that the zone deserved to produce the next Senate President having voted 100 per cent for the party in the just concluded general elections.

The CWC expressed its gratitude to members of the National Working Committee of the party (NWC) for deeming it fit to zone the exalted position to the North-Central zone

Asset Declaration Not Enough To Curb Corruption- Sen Bukola Saraki

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology, Senator Bukola Saraki, on Sunday said that public declaration of assets currently being canvassed by the President-elect, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari ( retd. ), was not enough to curb corruption in the country.

Saraki, through a statement by his media aide, Bamikole Omishore, in Abuja on Sunday, noted that though asset declaration was an accepted protocol of statutory disclosure, the action alone, “cannot reduce corruption as a standalone measure, as we have seen in previous administrations.”

To reduce corruption in governance and public administration, Saraki canvassed “a comprehensive, cohesive and a thorough policy of accountability which must be implemented, starting from proper civil service training and monitoring.”

He said, “Corruption has been one of the greatest challenges we face as a country in years past and all efforts, both personal commitment and systemic arrangements, should be put in place to further cage this endemic in our society.”

Saraki, who was recently re-elected into the National Assembly as a senator representing Kwara Central Senatorial District, called on all politicians both elected and appointed, to as a matter of national importance, emulate the exemplary leadership of Buhari.

He described the idea of public declaration of assets as a welcome development and urged political office holders to embrace it and remain committed to transparency and accountability in every aspect of their lives.

He said this was necessary to restore the confidence of the citizenry in government.

Saraki, who noted that he had always been declaring his assets before and after every political office since 2003, assured Nigerians that he would continue to do so but added that Nigerians deserved more than such declaration.

He said, “They want public officials to be committed to zero tolerance for corruption and show true leadership by example by making sure they are not found wanting in their respective fields of assignment.”

Creditpunchng

Bukola Saraki And Akume Lock Horns Over Senate Leadership

As Nigerians wait patiently for May 29 handover date, there are intense battle among APC senators over who take take over the mantle of leadership from Senate President, David Mark.

In fact, two senators from the north central zone have indicated interest in the highly revered seat.

They included former governors of Benue and Kwara States, George Akume and Bukola Saraki.

Ahead of the inauguration of a new government on May 29, under the leadership of President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), a fierce battle may have begun between Senate Minority leader and former governor of Benue State, George Akume, and the senator representing Kwara Central Senatorial District, Bukola Saraki, over who occupies the exalted position of the Senate President.

This battle follows the zoning of the position of the Senate President to North Central geo-political zone of the country by the All Progressives Congress at the meeting over how to allocate top political offices to the different zones.

Although Akume has already been tipped for the position, some key party leaders are expressing their preference for Saraki. The choice of Saraki, it was gathered, was informed by the enormity of his sacrifice for the party’s success at the polls.

With the victory of General Muhammadu Buhari (North West) and Professor Yemi Osinbajo (South West), some of the top positions left to be allotted are Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and their deputies.
Other positions are the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), and the Chief of Staff. Also, in consideration are the party’s national chairman which is presently occupied by a South- South personality while the party’s national secretary is occupied by a Northerner.

Prior to the presidential election, the party had considered the option of rewarding the North-Central with the Senate Presidency and the South East with the Speaker. The Secretary to the Federal Government or the Chief of Staff is reserved for the South-South.

However, with the presidential election over, the party leadership may no longer be disposed to the earlier arrangement as one of the National Working Committee members said that, “it would amount to robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

The party leader from the North-East who does not want his name in print argued that: “How can the party reward the zones that worked against the party and our presidential candidate with juicy positions while the zones that delivered the party are allocated mere deputies.

I am sure the party will reward hard work.” APC in South-South returned only one Senator in Edo North while South- East returned two members of the House of Representatives from Imo State. PDP also posted massive victory in North-Central where it won states like Plateau and Nasarawa.
Meanwhile, the leadership of the party is scheduled to meet in Abuja after the Easter break to continue with the discussion on power sharing.

A large percentage of public opinion  polled have indicated preference of Saraki as the next Senate President

Kwara Central Senatorial Seat; Supreme Court Rules in Favour of Bukola Saraki

In another landmark ruling, the Supreme Court  today, in the pending appeal filed by Alhaji L.A.. K Jimoh challenging the nomination of the former Governor of Kwara Sate, Senator Bukola Saraki to the Upper Chamber of National Assembly,  the apex court unanimously  held that the appeal is unmeritorious and it is hereby dismissed.
The Court while dismissing the suit with  Apeal . No. Sc. 493/2013. Apeal. No. CA/. ABJ/318/12. Titled, Alhaji laziz kolawole jimoh. V. P. D. P, INEC  & Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki,  filed by the   appellant was   dismissed because  it flays against many decided authorities. The court  advise the appellant to withdraw the matter forthwith as hearing the appeal will be an exercise in futility. The  appeal was eventually dismissed.
While scolding ?the appellant’s  lawyer for taking a step which amounts to abuse of court process and wasting of time of the court, the panel of judges  who did not hide their feeling towards the lawyer and without mincing words, lambasted the lawyer for bringing such matter before the  apex court knowingfully  that such matter terminates at the Court of Appeal by law and procedure.
It would be recalled that the Court of Appeal had earlier upheld the decision of the lower court to the extent that Senator Bukola Saraki was appropriately nominated by his former party, the PDP as the candidate to represent the Kwara Central Senatorial District of Kwara State. 
With the latest ruling by the apex court, it is finally settled that? Senator Bukola Saraki was properly nominated as candidate of People’s Democratic Party in 2011. 

Bukola Saraki ; Matching Words With Action By Wale Bakare

Enthusiasts and Grudge bearing critics were left bewildered as Senator Bukola Saraki surprisingly dropped the bombshell to call off his 2015 presidential ambition, instead, preferring to stick out his neck for the unity of the country and progress of his party-APC. Rather than a wait-and-see attitude, former governor has submerged himself in the 2015 project for change by promising the youth to get actively involved in the process that will ensure the emergence of a true democrat sensitive to the daily plight of the common man.

This significant decision has been greeted by well meaning Nigerians and political pundits as a positive signal on the seriousness of the opposition party to close rank and choose a consensus candidate agreeable by all within the ambit of democratic culture.

In a very long time, this perhaps, is the very first time most Nigerians will take to various media platforms to express their contentment on the pleasant news that broke on a sunny Monday afternoon. Furthering the advocacy for change, Bukola Saraki, the Chairman Senate Committee on Ecology and Environment stated that the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable as the country prepares for the 2015 general elections. In his part speech Saraki said ‘’this is the time for every patriotic politician to situate his personal ambition in the context of the country’s overall interests’’.

The news, to say the least, was received with mixed feelings among his young and upwardly mobile supporters, who took to the social media platform on twitter in an emotion laden tweets to show solidarity for the people’s senator. Below are a few tweets extracted from Bukola Saraki’s timeline.

‘’Bukola would have made a good president, but only one man can emerge. Good to know APC has wealth/ depth of Presidents’’ – @BJCares

‘’Sir, i am in support of your aspiration and Interest And also APC In particular because i want a better future for myself’’ – Hardelola06

‘’I have seen, read and met a lot of politicians in my life but some stand out as deft and erudite in many ways, one of such is @bukolasaraki’’ – @SLIMPROFILE

‘’The decision of @bukolasaraki to not contest for the APC presidential ticket must be commended. Thats a huge sacrifice’’ – @Nedunaija

Personally, just as many Nigerians have aired their voice on the commendable move by the two term governor of the state, instinctively, i feel the time is ripe for every Nigerian desirous of change to pitch their tenth where economic progression and reduction of large scale corruption is guaranteed.

Although his earlier intention to run for presidency has sparked off excitement among various youth groups, his declaration to step down has further endeared him to the teeming youth populace for his generosity; a trait very unfamiliar among Nigeria politicians.

While many are of the believe that his withdrawal from the presidential race has cleared the coast for the likes of General Muhammadu Buhari, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Rabiu Kwakwanso, Saraki was quick to dismiss that his decision was borne out his personal conviction and not necessarily a deliberate attempt to endorse a more popular candidate.

True to his words, the press statement had me pondering on the negativity and injustice our beloved country is currently subjected to, the closing phase of his speech was enough to ignite the passion in me to broaden my horizons to see beyond what is convenient versus what is right.

The reasons highlighted by the Senator coupled with the unsatisfactory level of governance in Nigeria by the present administration were fitting and leaves much to be desired in our quest for a way out of the quagmire. To further buttress an already disseminated message to Nigerians, the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo also took to the media to ease down inundated calls by those loyal to the president to seek forgiveness on behalf of the PDP and return to the ruling party. In a swift response, Baba as he’s fondly called asked the party to do the ‘’needful’’ citing immorality, integrity issues and high profile corruption perpetrated by the Jonathan led government as his major concerns. This statement of fact vindicates Bukola Saraki on his earlier assertions and negates whatever the Jonathanians have in their armour in defence of their impunity.

Recognising the distinguished Senator’s move to step down, Muhammadu Buhari, the people’s general also eulogised Saraki and enjoined other politicians to emulate the good gesture demonstrated in the interest of the country. “There is no doubt that Saraki is eminently qualified to run for president going by his enviable achievements as Governor of Kwara State, being the heir of the political dynasty of the famous majority leader of the Second Republic Senate, Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki, of blessed memory and the decisive role he played in enriching the APC with progressives from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).’’Buhari said.

No doubt, the first step in world peace is to defeat the enemy of indifference, Bukola Saraki has written his name in gold, in the folklore of the opposition party stamped in the mind of Nigerians to be remembered for many years to come.

Wale writes from Lagos

Follow on twitter @waleflame for more direct engagements.

Articles on www.omojuwa.com are solely authors opinion