The Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, has described as an afterthought and an academic exercise the query purported to have been issued to the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, by the leadership of the All Progressives Congress, given the announcement that Saraki made on Tuesday to the entire world about his defection from the party to the Peoples Democratic Party.
In a press statement signed by him, Ibrahim said Saraki does not need to answer a query that has become redundant and overtaken by events.
He said: “However, it is pertinent to state that the issues raised in the query were in conflict with and complete violation of our constitutionally guaranteed freedom of association. All Senators who have defected from APC did so on their own free will. As matured men and women, we took the decision to leave the APC by ourselves. We did so because we felt that the party no longer represents the ideals that we once fought for. The Senators are political leaders in their own rights and they represent their different senatorial districts. So, it is preposterous for the APC leadership to be writing that Dr. Saraki should be held responsible for the decision of my colleagues concerning their political careers.
“Is it Saraki that caused the antagonism between Sen. Suleiman Hunkuyi and Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai which led the Senator to defect? Is it Saraki that caused the problem between Kogi Governor and Sen. Dino Melaye when the party appeared helpless in calling the governor to order as he moves to annihilate the Senator who contributed so much to his election? Is it Saraki that compelled a man of Sen. Abdullahi Danbaba of Sokoto’s standing to defect? Is it Saraki who forced Sen. Monsurat Sunmonu from Oyo State to defect? Can Saraki be blamed for Sen. Abdulazeez Murtala Nyako’s defection after the Senator had complained about the lack of equity and inclusiveness in the APC in Adamawa State? One can give so many examples to demonstrate how the non-committal leadership of the APC looked on, without taking action to stop the sorry state of affairs that made the gale of defections inevitable.
“With regard to allegations on the conduct of proceedings in the National Assembly in general, and the Senate in particular, it should be noted that the Senate is a body of equal members and the Senate President is only a primus inter pares, first among equals. The Senate President cannot impose any decision on the entire body.
“All decisions are that of the whole Senate and not just one man. It is for that reason that all motions and resolutions in the Assembly are taken through a voice vote and the majority always carries the day, including our decision to halt the screening of Presidential nominees whose positions are not clearly slated for confirmation by the Senate in the constitution. So, nobody can blame the Senate President for any decision taken by the whole house. It is a collective decision.
“Those who are raising issues on why the 2018 budget was delayed are behaving as if they were not in the country when heads of Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) refused to defend their respective budgets promptly. After repeated complaints by the leadership of the National Assembly, the President himself had to direct the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) to compel the heads of MDAs to come before National Assembly committees for the defence of their budget proposals.
“Change of party platform is not a new development in our democracy. It has always been part of our party politics and will continue to be a normal feature. Even, in advanced democracies, politicians move from one party to another. In fact, it is an exercise of the freedom of association as guaranteed in our constitution. President Muhammadu himself on July 24, 2018 while reacting to our defection from the APC agreed that it was a seasonal occurrence. So, I am surprised that the APC now saw it as an offence for people to exercise their political rights.”