- Saraki: National Assembly ready to reconvene
- Meets INEC chief, IBB
Deji Elumoye, Omololu Ogunmade, James Emejo in Abuja
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo got the consent of President Muhammadu Buhari to dismiss the former Director-General of the State Security Services (SSS), Mr. Lawal Daura, the presidency said wednesday.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, disclosed this while answering questions from journalists at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in the State House, and said the presidency was one, hence a decision of that magnitude would not have been taken without a sense of unanimity between the president and his deputy.
According to him, the acting president is a decent man who is not obsessed with power, pointing out that there was no battle between them and that accounts for the reason the president always transmits power to Osinbajo whenever he’s leaving the country.
Adesina said, “What we will like to say for the umpteenth time is that the presidency is one. Whenever the president is proceeding on vacation he transmits power to the vice president, who then becomes the acting president. On this occasion he also did that.
“So, the acting president has all the powers of a president. Now it’s a matter then of decency and we know that the acting president is a decent man. There is no tussle for power. There is no battle between him and the president.
“When something like what happened yesterday would happen, there would be unanimity. There was no way there wouldn’t be unanimity on that kind of decision. It’s not something that will be discussed with the press but know that there was unanimity in the decision.”
Osinbajo had on Tuesday ordered the immediate dismissal of Daura and consequently directed him to hand over to the most senior officer of the DSS following his unilateral decision to deploy DSS operatives to the National Assembly without authorisation.
Masked DSS operatives armed to the teeth had taken over the two gates of the National Assembly at the dawn of Tuesday, preventing senators and staff of the National Assembly as well as journalists from gaining entry into the premises of the apex legislative institution.
Following Daura’s sack, Matthew Seiyefa, an indigene of Bayelsa State and a former Director of the Institute of Security Studies, Abuja was appointed as the Acting Director-General of the Service.
Until his appointment, Seiyefa was the most senior director in the DSS.
Saraki: N’Assembly Ready to Reconvene
Meanwhile, Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki yesterday said the National Assembly was ready to reconvene to discuss any urgent matter of national importance even as he dismissed claim that it was frustrating the passage of the budget of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) expected to be used to organise the 2019 general election.
He said the claim was not true, adding that the delay in consideration and probable approval of the commission’s election budget was caused by both the executive and INEC that didn’t submit the request in good time before the parliament proceeded on its long recess in July.
Saraki, who addressed a world press conference along with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, however, assured Nigerians that the legislature was ready to attend to the needs of INEC as well as other urgent national matters even it demands to reconvene its members.
According to him,”On that day after we adjourned, we realised that the electoral bill had not been passed and we decided to wait and take the electoral bill and passed it and that was the only issue pending before us for elections.
“The issue of INEC request is amazing and nobody is asking; was it the day we were leaving that INEC realised they had a project?
“They had January, February, April, May and June; nothing from the executive to say we need money for INEC, until July when we were leaving.
“But we are ready to support the executive at all times and I will let something out: since we’ve gone on recess even before this problem, both myself and the Speaker have met with the chairman of INEC to tell us what are the issues and this conversation had been going on.”
Saraki said, “So, we’ll do all that’s necessary. As I said, if it means us coming back because we’ve not even committed it to committee, it just came as a letter, which was read on the floor, it still has to go to the committee…and that was our plan yesterday but the situation was not conducive for us to hold the meeting.
“Even now as we were walking in here, we’ve already sent for the INEC chairman to come so that the meeting we didn’t hold yesterday, let’s hold it immediately now.
“If there’s need for us to reconvene so we can send it to committee, we will do that…The executive knew there was going to be an election, why didn’t they include it in the 2018 budget?
“Okay, after you submitted the 2018 budget, you had December, January February, March, April, May, June…So to say it’s the National Assembly does not want election is not true.
“I want to reassure you on that and any other matter that is important and needs to be addressed, we’ll do it.”
The Senate president also charged President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the electoral amendment bill, which had been passed by both chambers of the National Assembly and transmitted to him in order to ensure the success of next year’s elections.
He said, “If you remember, the first electoral bill we sent to the president, we’d the issue of change in the sequence of election and we had about three other issues.
“The president wrote back to us and said on these three issues, I agree to the first two but on change on sequence of election, I don’t agree.”
He said:”In our wisdom and in the interest of moving the country forward, we said, fine, we will do what you want: we now did an amendment where we’ve taken out the sequence of election and did exactly what he’d asked for and now we said, we’ve sent what you asked for, kindly sign so we have a follow up.”
On whether he would be willing to relinquish his seat having decamped to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the senate, Saraki said:”I was not given the senate seat; I was elected by members.
“And according to our constitution, it says that members of the National Assembly who so wish as a member, it does not say you have to come as a political party.”
He also promised to speak on the speculation making the rounds over his possible ambition for presidency “when the time comes.”
On why APC lawmakers were not at the National Assembly complex on Tuesday, to give credence to allegations of plot to unseat him, Saraki said:”As you are aware and as we know and there are evidences to support that, as I said, this was planned from the outside.
“And those that came early enough, the officers said,”we have a list of those that should be given access to come in.
“The plan was for the APC lawmakers in the senate to be given access; they were on the list; that’s why members whose names were not on that list were allowed to get in.
“And the reasons why they (APC senators) were not here as we all know was that they were holding a meeting somewhere else.
“And their plan was to go from there to arrive here; they had a meeting last night but unfortunately, it was inconclusive. If their meeting last night from 9p.m. to 4a.m. had been conclusive, they would have been here as early as eight in the morning- but the meeting was inconclusive and they re-adjourned to 11a.m and members of other party must have heard about that and said okay, we will all be here. So that’s the reason why they were not here.”
Also, on the suggestions that the Director General of the Department of State Security (DSS) and the Inspector General of Police (IG) report to him, thereby creating an impression that the whole invasion of the National Assembly was stage-managed in favour of PDP, the Senate president said, “Nigerians are not fools and I think it’s an insult to the integrity of all of us; those of you who were here as early as 6a.m, over a hundred officer of state department were here: we have our sergeant-at-arms, we have our security- we never requested for it-or Speaker, did you request for it?
“We are all leadership here; we never said we needed additional security, we have competent sergeant-at-arms here, who over the years have continued to defend this place…The only time we’d trouble here was when we had the invasion from outside- when the mace of the Senate was stolen…It’s just an afterthought- the same state security that withdrew our security now you are saying…Let’s not insult the intelligence of Nigerians.
“What happened here yesterday, and that’s why you’d the acting president do the right thing, it’s wrong, they’d no business disturbing the works of an arm of government…they went beyond the ambit of law and the right action was taken.
“We must protect this democracy, we must ensure the rule of law…If you want to remove anybody, the constitution is very clear; if you have the numbers, go ahead and do it; and if you don’t have the numbers and you want to turn us into a banana republic where…I believe Nigeria has gone past that- we want to grow a country that other parts of the world will be proud of us but this does not give us anything to be proud about.”
On whether the National Assembly would consider an impeachment proceeding against Buhari over the latest development, Saraki said, “The action that the acting president has taken, I’ve commended as a right step in the right direction: it’s something they should have done much earlier; there’d been many cases of such atrocities we’ve seen before now.
“I hope by this action, those heading the agencies should learn from it. And we hold government accountable to consistency. They must be consistent now: actions that are attack on democracy, action that are now in the interest of the people, they should be able to sanction those agencies.
“I don’t think there’s need for anyone of us to talk about the issue of impeachment.”
Saraki also expressed his readiness to resign as Senate president once he no longer enjoys the majority support of his colleagues.
According to him, unlike some politicians he was not desperate to remain in power.
His words: Let me reiterate that neither myself, Deputy Senate President or Speaker belong to the class of politicians that are desperate to stay in power by all means and at all costs. The day, two thirds of our members feel they do not have confidence in our leadership, we will gracefully bow out. I repeat again and again, this is not about us, but about respecting the constitution and the rule of law.”
He expressed the commitment of the legislature towards the entrenchment of the rule of law in the country.
According to him, the legislature remains committed to working for a country governed by the rule of law.
“Our desire is to have a society where there will be equity and justice, not oppression. We stand committed to doing our utmost as lawmakers to ensure that the responsibility and functionality of governance are met.”
Saraki, Dogara Meet INEC Chief
Meanwhile, Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara met with Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu yesterday in Abuja.
At the end of the meeting, the INEC chairman told journalists that he had a fruitful discussion with the National Assembly leadership, who he said will be meeting next week to consider the budget for INEC, for the 2019 general election.