A senator representing Kwara South, Rafiu Ibrahim, has said the Senate President, Bukola Saraki does not need to respond to the query issued to him by the All Progressives Party (APC).
The National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC had accused Mr Saraki of breaching Article 21 of the party’s constitution – which deals with how the party can punish members who violate its constitution.
Such violations include “activities or any conduct, which is likely to embarrass or have adverse effect on the party or bring the party into hatred, contempt, ridicule or disrepute.”
The resolution of the NWC came hours after Mr Saraki announced he was leaving the APC for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In its resolution signed by its National Secretary, Mai Mala Buni, the APC asked Mr Saraki to respond to the query within 48 hours explaining why disciplinary actions should not be taken against him.
Included in the query were allegations against Mr Saraki ranging from, “encouraging the defection of other senators from the APC to the opposition party” to refusal to screen nominees appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari, among others.
In a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Ibrahim described the APC’s query as an afterthought and an academic exercise.
He said Mr Saraki does not need to answer a query that has become redundant and overtaken by events.
The lawmaker further stated that the issues raised in the query were in conflict with and complete violation of their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of association.
He said all the senators who have defected from APC did so on their own free will and took the decision as matured men and women.
The senator, who was among the 14 senators that defected from the APC, said they did so because they felt that the party no longer represents the ideals that they once fought for.
“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 Senator 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 Senator Abdullahi Danbaba of Sokoto’s standing to defect? Is it Saraki who forced Senator Monsurat Sunmonu from Oyo State to defect? Can Saraki be blamed for Senator 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 noncommittal leadership of the APC looked on, without taking action to stop the sorry state of affairs that made the gale of defections inevitable,” he said.
With regard to allegations on the conduct of proceedings in the National Assembly in general, and the Senate in particular, Mr Ibrahim said 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, he said.
“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,” he explained.
He added that 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.”
He made reference to repeated complaints by the leadership of the National Assembly and when Mr Buhari 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,” Mr Ibrahim stated.
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