My Hands Were Tied, Saraki Tells APC

imageSenate President Bukola Saraki has written to the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to say his “hands were tied” regarding the selection of principal officers of the senate.

In his letter dated June 25, the senate president explained that the APC senate caucuses had already taken a decision on the matter before he received the letter from the party.

“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,” Saraki’s letter read.

“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.”

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”.

Chief John Oyegun, national chairman of APC, had written to Saraki and the Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara stating the party’s choice of principal officers of the senate.

Oyegun letter was meant to convey the party’s approval of Senator Ahmed Lawan and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila as Majority Leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives of the 8th National Assembly.

Also approved by the National Working Committee of the APC were Sen. George Akume and five others as principal officers of the National Assembly.

The APC leaders position was communicated to both the President of the Senate and the Speaker, House of Representatives by the National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun in separate letters.

Dated 23rd June, 2015 and titled “Party Position On Principal Officers of the 8th Senate”, with Reference number APC/NHDQ/NAM/01/015/05 to Saraki and APC/NHDQ/NAM/01/015/06 to Dogara respectively, Oyegun said they should take “necessary action” on these recommendations.

Excerpts from the letters, copies of which were obtained by LEADERSHIP reads, “Please find below for your necessary action names of Principal Officers approved by the Party, after excessive consultations for the 8th Senate as follow:

“Majority Leader – Senator Ahmed Lawan, PhD (North East); Chief Whip – Sen. Prof Sola Adeyeye (South West) ; Deputy Majority Leader – Sen. Dr George Akume (North Central); Deputy Chief Whip – Sen. Abu Ibrahim (North West)”, the letter to Saraki reads.

The text of a similar letter to the House Speaker listed the approved principal officers as:

House Leader : Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila – South West
Deputy House Leader: Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa – North West
Chief Whip: Hon. MT Monguno – North East
Deputy Chief Whip: Hon. Pally Iriase – South South
The APC adopted the lists submitted by The Unity Forum (Senate) and The Loyalists (House of Representatives) to heal the wounds and reconcile all after the June 9 controversial elections.

But on Thursday, Saraki 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.

There was fracas in the lower chambers, making it impossible for principal officers to emerge before the House proceeded on a five weeks recess. Both chambers will reconvene on July 21.

In a statement on Friday, the Senate President who set up two ad hoc committees said he gave them one week to submit their reports.

Saraki assured the nation that the senate will reconvene at any time before the adjourned date to consider any matter of urgent national importance or to attend to any national assignment requiring its attention.

“The Senate’s Ad-hoc Committee on Financial review is the first time the Senate is setting up a body to review its own salaries, allowances, and the overhead cost of running the Senate with a view to realigning them to reflect the present economic situation in the country,” the statement said.

The National Assembly had slashed its 2015 budget to N120billion from N150billion as a result of dwindling Federal Government’s revenue.

He added that the cut was part of the National Assembly’s belt-tightening measures in view of the current economic realities in the country.

Saraki, had during the inauguration of the committee observed that the subject of reduction in cost of governance had been on the front burner of national discourse for a long time because of its extremely sensitive nature.

He also pledged that the Senate under his leadership would make “financial conservatism” its watchword.

“There still persists the need to project clarity, accountability and transparency in all legislative matters and legislators’ welfare.

“The 8th Senate under our watch recognizes the concerns raised by Nigerians about the cost of running office most especially with the economic challenges facing our nation.

“The Senate will be more transparent regarding all public funds spent for the purpose of paying salaries and allowances of legislators and ensure that distinction is sufficiently made between what a legislator actually earns and what is spent to run and implement legislative business and committee activities.

“The watchword in our financial issues will be fiscal conservatism. It is therefore on this arm that the committee is mandated to carry out thorough fiscal examination on the Senate finances with the aim of coming up with the best cost-effective regime in the 8th Senate,” he said.

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