Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
Senator Isa Hamman Misau (Bauchi, APC) has warned that the plot to remove Senate President Bukola Saraki from office has remained strong over fears that he may defect from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), thus creating problems for the party.
Speaking at the Senate plenary Wednesday, Misau said the plot gained traction during the Christmas recess of the National Assembly and was being spearheaded by a minister.
The lawmaker made the allegations while contributing to the debate on the rising insecurity in the country, when he noted that the security situation had become worse because appointments into critical offices of the federal government were not merit-based but based on the primordial sentiments of a “certain cabal” in the presidency.
The debate on insecurity continued from Tuesday, leading the Senate to resolve to hold a security summit next week.
Misau, however, did not mention the name of the minister who he accused of trying to lobby some senators to execute the plot.
“When we were on holiday, so many people were going behind (to senators), pleading that we should try and remove the Senate President.
“It was a minister that was spearheading this thing. What was the reason? They said that the Senate President would leave APC, that it would create problems from him (Saraki). What kind of country is this? Everything is about religion and about tribe,” he said.
The cabal, which he accused of appointing an “unqualified” person as Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mr. Rufai Ahmed Abubakar, has continued to act as if it was above the government, Misau said.
He alleged that Abubakar failed the promotion examinations when he was a member of staff of the NIA before his departure from the agency.
President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Abubakar as the substantive head of the NIA last week, but he had once worked for the agency before moving on to other jobs.
The Bauchi senator said the appointment of Abubakar who was until last week the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs/International Relations, was improper.
He said: “Today, the DG NIA that was just appointed, is he qualified to be there? He’s not qualified. This is the person that failed two exams, we know. He failed two exams and just because he is close to people taking decisions, he was appointed.”
He berated Buhari for surrounding himself with incompetent people who “take decisions anyhow”.
“So many incompetent people are holding so many positions. Fifty per cent of the ministers are not performing. Since the president assumed office he has not taken any decision to move this country. Today we are seeing it and everybody is avoiding it, nobody wants to say anything.
“So many appointments in this government are not based on merit. Some people have taken over the government as if they are even above the president,” he said.
The cabal, Misau further alleged, had discredited the anti-corruption fight of the government through selective prosecution.
“They take decisions anyhow. We say we are fighting corruption, but Babachir (Lawal, former SGF), the vice-president’s committee indicted him. Today, they are pursuing other people, why can’t they take Babachir to court; and all of us are here keeping quiet?
“People who have not done anything are always in court. This is the man that squandered money meant for IDPs and he is still visiting the (Presidential) Villa every day,” he said.
Also pointing to Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, Misau said: “This Attorney-General is becoming a nuisance, going to court to stop the Maina (probe) and we are still here.
“The IG (Inspector General of Police) came here with a lawyer saying that he was not going to answer any question from the Senate. After that he went to institute an order restraining the Senate from investigating him.”
The senator maintained that the issue of insecurity would not be properly tackled until the executive makes appointments based on merit.
He added that without competent people handling the nation’s security apparatus, insecurity will continue to linger.
“It is the right time for us, let us know what to do. If it’s about talking here or holding a conference, until we look at how the security system is. Who and who are holding sensitive positions? Are they competent? Were they appointed on merit?” he asked.
Misau attributed the rising insecurity to the “failure of leadership” and lamented that despite the killings in several parts of the country, some state governors went to the villa to endorse Buhari for a second term.
“It is as if the president is not in charge. We have two to three months to correct this thing (before the election campaigns pick up steam), if there are people misleading the president, let him sack them, because they would not let him perform,” he said.
Senator Ben Murray-Bruce (Bayelsa, PDP), in his contribution, said the Senate seemed to be more concerned about the state of insecurity than the executive, which is constitutionally saddled with the responsibility of safeguarding the lives and property of its citizens.
“The red chamber seems to be doing the job of the executive. If Saraki is the only one interested, let him become president. If the cabinet is incompetent, they should be fired,” he said.
Murray-Bruce lamented that Nigeria was becoming a lawless country where there are no consequences for bad behaviour, and called for the resignation of the government officials in charge of security.
“You are either in control of security or you are not. If people responsible for security are not doing their jobs, what are we doing about it? Taraba, Enugu, Kaduna: people are being killed, we are becoming a barbaric country,” Bruce said.
The debate followed a motion by Senator Lau Shuaibu (Taraba, PDP) who said over 70 persons were recently murdered in separate farmers/herdsmen clashes in Taraba communities.
He called for increased security surveillance around the border between Taraba and Adamawa States, saying that the clashes started in Numan, Adamawa State.
Also contributing to the debate, Senator Kabiru Marafa whose state, Zamfara, has also experienced several attacks, said insecurity had become a national emergency.
Zamfara for months has been under the control of a militia which moves freely with arms and has become so powerful that they sit to judge disputes among the people without recourse to local authorities, Marafa said.
He alleged that the militia was known to the state governor, deputy governor and the state commissioner of police.
In his submission, Deputy Minority Leader, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha (Taraba, PDP), further warned that the new strategy adopted by fleeing Boko Haram insurgents was to attack communities under the guise of herdsmen.
“People are supporting them unknowingly because they whip up primordial sentiments. When you say Fulani herdsmen, the average Fulani man is offended, even in this chamber people would get up to support them because it is about their people,” he said.
Bwacha said that except the situation was tackled decisively in a bipartisan manner, it would gradually consume Nigeria as the killer herdsmen were gradually decimating the country.
“When insurgents started, they said they wanted to kill Christians, they ended up killing more Muslims,” Bwacha said.
At the end of the debate, the Senate resolved to suspend plenary for two days next week to hold the security summit over the recurring violence and killings across the country, to examine modalities to stop the ugly trend before it becomes a threat to national unity.
The summit would hold on Wednesday and Thursday next week and is expected to have in attendance the 36 state governors, security chiefs and other stakeholders.
It is expected to proffer immediate, short and long-term solutions to stop the killings across the country and avert their recurrence.