The Senate has directed its Committee on Ethics and Privilege to investigate alleged plot by 22 Northern Senators to sabotage President Muhammadu Buhari.
This followed a publication in one of the nation’s newspapers alleging that 22 northern senators of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who took part in the vote of confidence on the Senate President and other leaders of the Senate, were plotting to frustrate the present administration.
The alleged report reads: “Twenty-two northern senators elected on the All Progressives Congress (APC) platform have been identified as teaming up with the opposition to work against President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling party.
“The senators allegedly teamed up with 46 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senators in the Red Chamber to pass a confidence vote in the leadership of the Senate under Dr. Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu, a PDP senator.
“Thirty-five APC senators were among the 81 who purportedly endorsed the vote of confidence in the principal officers of the Senate.”
The report added that 22 out of the senators were from the North and were consequently accused of working against the party on which platform they were elected into the National Assembly.
In another development, the Senate has kicked against abuse of import waiver granted importers and urged the Federal Government to stop all import waivers on rice and other agricultural produce in the country.
It also mandated the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as well as Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to put in place urgent and adequate mechanisms that would ensure full recovery of all revenues accruing to the government through importation of rice.
The Senate was reacting to a motion sponsored by Senator Adebayo Ibrahim (APC, Kwara South) on the indiscriminate use and abuse of waivers for rice importation.
Ibrahim said that the non-realisation of the policy was as a result of indiscriminate and abusive grant of waivers, concession and grants, especially on rice importation.
According to him: “The CBN had revealed to the Senate how these importers have overshot their quotas and now owe the Federal Government duties running into billions of naira.”
Coming under Order 15 of the Senate Standing Rules, the Senate Leader, Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South), called the newspaper’s attention to the fact that the leadership issue within the APC was part of Senate leadership and the two positions were those of the Senate President and his deputy.
Ndume added that although every senator was qualified to aspire for any position, only one candidate would always emerge winner. He, therefore, urged his colleagues and every other individual within the party to allow peace reign so that the Senate could focus on its legislative functions.
He said: “The leadership issue in APC is part of the Senate leadership and the two positions there are specifically the Senate President and the deputy. “Each and everyone here as a senator is qualified to be a Senate President by all standard but it’s unfortunate that out of the 109 of us, one has to be the Senate President and the other Deputy Senate President. “It so happened that the Senate President in the name of Bukola Saraki by God’s grace happened to emerge so.
I personally wanted to be the Senate President and I believe that any of us would not mind to be the Senate President. “As for the Deputy Senate President, I contested against him to win and not to lose that election but it is God who gives power to whoever he wants anytime.
Addressing journalists immediately after the inauguration of the committee on the same issue, Chairman, Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Media, Information and Public Affairs, Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West), described the allegation as “wicked, satanic and unacceptable for anybody to allude to the fact that those who endorsed Saraki were against the President.” “That report and those insinuating that 22 northern senators are working against the President are the ones working laboriously against the President.
There is nothing he brought to the Senate that has not received urgent attention”, Melaye stated. In their distinct contributions, senators decried the high level of corruption in the process of importation.
Alaso Adura (APC, Ondo Central) therefore urged the ad-hoc committee to look into the waiver beyond rice.
In his contribution, Senator Ibrahim Gobir (APC, Sokoto East), noted that while some Nigerians put the volume of import at two to three million metric tonnes yearly, the figure could escalate in future if not curtailed.
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who regretted the degree of impunity by the past administration and its implication on the economy, said: “More importantly is the issue of impunity where people are given waivers and they abuse it because they feel that nothing can happen.
If we are talking about change and we want to ascertain that the Senate is committed to do things differently, we must make an example going forward. We have to show Nigerians that we are serious. Therefore, relevant committees should ensure that every penny is recovered.”
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