â€¢ My relationship with president is cordial, says Saraki
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja and Segun James in Lagos
Three weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari left Nigeria for the United Kingdom to undergo medical treatment, his wife, Aisha, Tuesday left the shores of Nigeria to join her husband.
Mrs. Buhariâ€™s trip was announced by one of her acquaintances, Zaynab Ikaz-kassim on her twitter handle, @zaykassim Tuesday.
According to the tweet, Mrs. Buhari will spend some time with her husband in London.
â€œHer Excellency, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, today (yesterday) left for London. She will spend time with her husband, President Buhari who is presently on medical leave,â€ the tweet said.
But as Mrs. Buhariâ€™s departure for London came to light, Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, Tuesday said that his relationship with the president has remained cordial, despite the false claims in some quarters.
He spoke when the National Executive of the Islamic group, Jamaatu Izalatul Bidiah Wa Ikamatus Sunnali (JIBWS) led by its president, Sheikh Mohammed Sani Yahaya Jingiri, visited him at the National Assembly.
According to a statement by his Special Assistant, Print Media, Chuks Okocha, the Senate President debunked allegations that he and the Senate were working against Buhari, saying: â€œI want to assure you of the good cooperation between the legislative arm and executive led by President Muhammudu Buhari.
â€œSince the commencement of this Senate, I think we had about 196 requests from President Buhari for confirmation of his nominees and we have confirmed 185. I think we have only rejected 11. That is over 90 per cent of confirmations.
â€œI want to assure you there is a lot of noise that you will see on the newspaper, radio and the social media, but please be assured that the two arms of government are working closely together, more than in past sessions of the Senate.
â€œIn January, I went to see him and assured him of our cooperation and weâ€™ve continued to work closely. I want to assure you as we always say, let us be judged by our actions and not by talk.
â€œA lot of people talk, but do something else when you are not around and loyalty can be best measured by what people do when you are not around.
â€œI want to appeal to you now that you are here, to convey the same message to your followers, because of the social media and the fake news that they hear over the radio. They get the wrong impression that we in the Senate, the Senate President and the senators are working against the president.
â€œBut I assure you that we have a very cordial relationship with the executive.â€
Saraki also reaffirmed the commitment of the Senate in promoting good governance, economic stability and creation of jobs for unemployed youths and promised to ensure that all bills to be passed by the Senate will ensure that the religious sentiments of Nigerians are taken into consideration.
The Senate President told his visitors that the Gender Equality Bill currently before the National Assembly would be fair to all religious groups and sentiments.
He said: â€œI want to reassure you of our greatest concern, particularly on the issue of the Gender Equality Bill. Here in the National Assembly, we pass laws and whatever law we pass, we take into consideration the religious aspects.â€
According to Saraki, â€œThe final version of the Gender Equality Bill will be such that all religious sentiments are taken care of and Nigerians would be proud of.â€
Earlier, the leader of the Islamic group, Sheikh Jingirr, commended the Senate President for his role leading to the rejection of the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2015 presidential election.
He added that Nigeria was not ripe for such an arrangement which did not take into consideration the need for religious balance in the country, as all religious interests must be represented at all times, including during elections.
He added that religious balancing must at all times be respected in Nigeria, as this would ensure harmony.
The Islamic cleric also commended the National Assembly for rejecting the bill for the legalisation of same sex marriages and capital punishment, describing them as un-Islamic.
He also urged the Senate President to ensure that the current Gender Equality Bill reflects the tenets of all religions.
Fayose Asks Buhari to Resign
Meanwhile, Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, has challenged the president to honourably resign if he truly loves the country and is an upright leader as he claims.
Fayose, who spoke Tuesday at a press conference in Lagos, said progress was not being made in the country due to Buhari’s illness and long absence.
The governor said it was not enough for Buhari to claim that he is morally upright when he cannot honourably resign due to ill health for the country to move forward.
He said the presidentâ€™s refusal to resign due to his ill health was a dent on his integrity and was a setback for the country.
The governor wondered why the president was finding it difficult to step aside, knowing the hardship his illness was causing majority of Nigerians and the economy.
He said the president was allowing officials in his government to â€œperpetrate oppressive and corrupt actionsâ€ in his name due to his incapacitation, adding that this implied that he was allowing evil and corruption to thrive because he has refused to be morally upright.
He contended that the presidentâ€™s refusal to step aside constituted a stumbling block for capable hands to run the affairs of the country, which in his estimation was deteriorating daily and showing signs of directionless.
Fayose wondered why a president who is fully aware of his ill health and knows that he could not cope with the rigours of office, could not be honourable by resigning as expected of a morally upright person.
He asked: â€œHow long will Nigerians wait for an incapacitated president as things get worse in our nation?
â€œThe worst form of corruption is moral corruption. It is worse than financial corruption, which the president claims to be fighting. Financial corruption only comes from someone who is morally corrupt.
â€œNot resigning and continuing to rule in his incapacitated state borders on his integrity. Allowing others to perpetuate oppressive, corrupt actions and practices in his name because he is incapacitated certainly means he himself is allowing evil and corruption to thrive, because he has refused to be morally upright and pave the way for capable hands to run the affairs of our country, which is deteriorating daily and directionless.â€
He stated that the president could only claim to be fighting financial corruption if he can purge himself of the moral corruption hovering over his head.
â€œFor a president who prides himself as an anti-corruption czar, an incorruptible man, why is he finding it difficult to be morally upright and resign, knowing the hardship his redundancy is causing the economy and the masses?
â€œNot resigning and continuing to rule in his incapacitated state borders on his integrity,â€ Fayose said.
â€œToday, Nigerians are hungry and angry as they live in poverty and hardship due to the incompetence and cluelessness of the Buhari-led administration. Our country needs an able and hands on leader,â€ he said.
While cataloguing Buhariâ€™s two years in office, Fayose said it was a misadventure for Nigerians, adding that the government was built on â€œdeceit and propagandaâ€.
He added that the administration was autocratic, lawless, thrives on intimidation and harassment of perceived opposition figures.
The governor stated that power generation has been abysmal, leaving Nigerians in â€œunprecedented darknessâ€.
He also berated the government for the incessant killings in the country, occasioned by Fulani herdsmen attacks, adding: â€œIt was highest in the history of the country.â€
The governor stressed that the president leads a â€œgovernment of failed promises, deceit and propagandaâ€, adding that it was characterised by â€œautocratic and human rights abuses, disregard for the rule of law, court orders and the constitutionâ€.
He accused the president of thriving in the â€œintimidation and harassment of perceived opposition figures within and withoutâ€ while advancing acts of corruption by â€œshielding elements in government circlesâ€ even as he engages in nepotism and lopsided appointments.
Fayose gave the president a very low mark in the area of security and pointedly accused the government of stage-managing the rescue of the Chibok girls, even as he pointed out the non-responsiveness of the president to the activities of cattle herdsmen.