Senators loyal to the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, yesterday, debunked the claim of Senator Kabiru Marafa (APC, Zamfara Central) that the controversies trailing the 2016 budget were as a result of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) trial of their principal.
According to the pro-Saraki Senators, President Muhammadu Buhari submitted three versions of the 2016 Budget proposal to the National Assembly for consideration.
The six senators: Tayo Alasoadura, Peter Nwaoboshi, Rafiu Ibrahim, Obinna Ogba, Isa Hamma Misau and Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi in a joint statement faulted Marafa claims insisting that the budget controversies have no connection with Saraki’s trial.
The like minded senators added that Marafa has continued to violate the oath of office he swore to uphold.
The statement, titled: “Marafa Vs Senate: Enough is Enough!,” reads in full:
We have watched with dismay from the inauguration of the Eighth Senate how Senator Kabiru Marafa has constituted himself as a cog in the wheel of progress, unity and harmony of the institution. Since his preferred candidates did not win elections into the leadership of the Senate, he has carried on as if the peace, order, good health and progress of the institution does not matter.
After the various media attacks believed to be aimed at defaming, bringing into disrepute and public odium and lowering the standing of the Senate in the estimation of right thinking Nigerians were tabled on the floor of the Senate last Tuesday, our position has been that the Senate should temper justice with mercy. We had been canvassing the opinion that, without prejudice to the outcome of the investigation by the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, the Senate leadership should simply work further on reconciliation.
However, We are surprised that while others are preaching peace, the Senator from Zamfara Central has continued to stoke the ember of disunity, deploying all tactics, particularly falsehood, character assassination, setting individuals and institutions against each other and throwing abuses as if he is at war with himself and must therefore vent his anger on others.
His speech during a press conference at the weekend however deserves more clarification to set the records straight because it contains falsehood, unreasonable claims and attempts to further malign the legislative institution to which he belongs and its leadership. Our position on the claims are as follows:
1. How can Senator Marafa blame Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki for the unfortunate controversies surrounding the 2016 budget? In a letter dated 15 January 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari himself, in a letter addressed to the Senate President, admitted that there were different versions of the budget in the National Assembly as he wrote that: “At the time of submission (of the budget), we indicated that because the details had just been produced we would have to check to ensure that there were no errors in the detailed breakdown contained in the schedule. That has been completed and I understand that the corrections have been submitted. The National Assembly would therefore have the details as submitted on the 22nd and a copy containing the corrections submitted last week. It appears that this has led to some confusion. In this regard, please find attached the corrected version. This is the version the National Assembly should work with as my 2016 budget estimates.”
What is reasonably deductible from the President’s letter is that the current budget estimates being used by the National Assembly is the third version. How is this Saraki’s fault as Marafa claimed? Also, how can Marafa allude to Saraki a sad development in which Ministers appeared before the National Assembly committees and were disowning either as a whole or in parts, the budget of their Ministries as it happened in the case of Ministers of Health, Education and Information and Culture? The irregularities in the budget made the February 25 passage date impossible and this was a joint decision of the Chairmen of Committees on Appropriation in both chambers of the National Assembly after consulting with the leadership of both chambers. Marafa’s claim is therefore outright mischief and misrepresentation.
2. At this point, it is necessary to put on record the hypocrisy of Senator Marafa. If he is so much interested in the early passage of the budget, how come that up till now he has not convened the meeting of the committee on National Population and National Identity which he chairs so that the key agencies – National Population Commission (NPC) and National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) – can defend their budget estimates. Until last Friday when the Senate decided to appoint an acting chairman for the committee, the two agencies stood the risk of not having any budget for the current fiscal year. Marafa abandoned his statutory work and concentrated on playing politics, seeking to be relevant and struggling for newspaper space.
3. Our position is that Senator Marafa has continued to violate the oath of office he swore to uphold. As a member, he has violating the integrity of the Senate. The Senate should no longer allow one member to hold it to ransom and behave as if he is bigger than the institution.
4. There is need for the institution of the Senate to be protected. Marafa is laying a bad precedent and he needs to be stopped from further maligning this revered democratic institution.