Lawmakers deny flouting directive
The All Progressives Congress, APC, caucus in the Senate says it is complying with the directive given by the leadership of the party to block executive bills and ensure non-cooperation.
The caucus said media reports indicating that it was not complying with the directive were misleading and that the intendment of the party’s directive and the action of the senators were misconstrued.
The senators also threatened to adopt other democratic measures to achieve its purpose if the directive failed.
The leadership of the APC, last week, directed its members in the National Assembly to block all executive bills, including the 2014 Appropriation Bill. It also asked the lawmakers to block the confirmation of nine ministerial nominees as well that of the service chiefs.
The directive was meant to protest the role of the police in the lingering crisis in Rivers State, which is governed by the APC.
However, there were reports that some of the APC senators had flouted the directive of the party by participating in the screening of the service chiefs on Monday.
Reports also indicated that they had participated in the ongoing debate on the 2014 Budget.
But a statement by the Senate Minority Leader, George Akume, on Thursday, said the senators had not flouted the directive. He said the directive was a legitimate democratic tool aimed at restoring the rule of law and constitutionalism in Rivers State in order to save lives of Nigerian citizens.
“These reports are misleading as they variously misconstrue the real intendment of the APC directive and the action of the senators,” the caucus said.
Mr. Akume explained that the participation of the APC senators in the screening of the service chiefs and the debate on the general principles of the Appropriation Bill 2014 were in fact in compliance with the directive of the party.
He said the directive was not for the senators to boycott their legislative business; rather their participation would lead to the ultimate execution of the party directive.
“It needs reiterating that the Rivers crisis poses real threat to national security and has the potential to spillover to the other states if not appropriately contained. The APC as a responsible party will not fold its hands and allow the nation to slide into anarchy. APC’s action is to forestall clearly preventable crisis that will put further stress on our military, which is already stretched to the limits in tackling the Boko Haram insurgency,” it said.
The APC Caucus noted that Rivers State, which holds a large part of the oil wealth of Nigeria, enjoyed relative peace and tranquility until the deployment of Joseph Mbu to the state as Commissioner of Police. The caucus claimed that Mr. Mbu had virtually become the “De facto Governor,” a status which the federal government had bestowed on him, thus stoking anarchy.
Mr. Mbu, it said, had played this role with zest and impunity, being totally unconcerned despite the implications for national stability.
“Today, the prevailing situation in Rivers State is best defined by the wanton abridgment of citizen’s fundamental rights. The Police locked Honourable Members of the State House of Assembly out of their chambers. They disrupted a peaceful rally by the Save Rivers Movement, SRM, with brazen high handedness shooting a serving Senator of the Federal Republic, Senator Magnus Abe while wounding scores of others. Citizens are recklessly arrested for belonging to the opposition party. Militants routinely demonstrate and threaten the Governor under the watch and cover of the Police. Peaceful rallies in designated venues are violently disrupted by the Police and hired thugs while PDP supporters’ block highways against the Governor with full complement of Police protection,” it said.
The Caucus said the APC had, at all times, called the attention of the Presidency to these primitive acts of impunity without the latter doing anything and that this was apart from the countless resolutions that had been passed on the situation by the National Assembly, which the Presidency treated with contemptuous ignominy.
It condemned those critical of the directive, saying they should rather appeal to the presidency, which held the key to the resolution of the crisis in Rivers State.
“The APC directive is conditional upon the restoration of normalcy in Rivers State. A clear testimony that the Rivers crisis has been orchestrated by the Presidency emerged when ostensibly at his directive, the IGP deployed officers and men of the Police to provide security for the Save Rivers Movement (SRM) rally in Bori, Rivers State last Saturday. Instead of addressing the matter in packets, the Presidency should provide a wholesale solution to the situation,” it said.
The Caucus said it would resort to other democratic means if the directive to block executive bills failed.
“APC Senators, in acknowledgment of party supremacy and the patriotic nature of this directive are fully committed and determined to comply. If filibustering does not achieve the desired objective, the party shall resort to other democratic measures,” it said.
The APC Senate Caucus appealed to Nigerians to rally their energies and patriotic fervor in every lawful way to stop the ‘continuous degeneration’ of the country into a failed state status by the Jonathan government.
Stating that the party observed the acts of mis-governance perpetrated by the PDP-led Federal Government, the Caucus insisted that there were “very nationally embarrassing unanswered” issues of corruption swirling around the government.”
It listed the issues as follows:
– Consider the $10.8 billion (N1.75 trillion) allegedly spent by the NNPC without appropriation.
– This government allegedly spent N2.6 trillion on fuel subsidy in 2011 when only N245 billion was appropriated for. There is the unanswered issue of N32 billion Police pension fund scam and N5 billion-pension scam.
-The Jonathan administration has unanswered issues on 24 million barrels of oil worth $1.6 billion (N259 billion) through signature forgery revealed by the Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga.
-This government has unanswered issues with the N53 billion NCC spectrum sale racket.
-This government has huge issues to answer about waivers and concessions which run into the scandalous amounts of over N1.4 trillion admitted by the Nigerian Customs which is far in disparity with the N171billion admitted by the Minister of finance, which itself is unacceptable. The industrial-scale theft of crude oil worth about $2 billion monthly is atrocious.
-This government has an amorphous SURE-P program specifically designed to tunnel money into private pockets instead of utilizing the oil savings in the manner (former Head of State) Sani Abacha did through the Petroleum Trust Fund, PTF.
-There is the unanswered disappearance of $5 billion (N812 billion) from the Excess Crude Account. The Presidency’s protection of members of his cabinet who have been found complicit in several issues of corruption is very worrisome indeed.
“Having brought the nation to the brink of a failed state, the 2014 Appropriation Bill as submitted by the Presidency is as bogus as the fuel subsidy regime. Apart from being insensitive to the plight of the people in the face of the unacceptable poverty situation in the country the budget priorities are clearly misplaced. With these and many other acts of gross misconduct, the APC members in the National Assembly stand ready to activate its next line of action if the Presidency continues to perpetuate acts of impunity against the good people of Nigeria,” the caucus said.