Senate leader appeals to National Assembly to reconvene

Timothy Choji, Abuja

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President Muhammadu Buhari has again met with Senators elected under the platform of the All Progressives Congress APC.

Addressing State House Correspondents at the end of the meeting, which took place on Wednesday at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, appealed to his colleagues in the National Assembly to reconvene, to pass the supplementary budget, to enable the country’s electoral body INEC have the necessary funds for the conduct of the 2019 election.

“As the President leaves for his vacation I believe that we are supposed to continue to be very responsible as legislators; those issues that are so important to this country that we haven’t dealt with, we should be able to come back and deal with them. Here I have in mind the consideration of the budget of the INEC for 2019 elections that is supplementary budget submitted by the President. I believe that we are going to do a lot of justice to the people of this country if we work hard to pass those requests so I am calling on all my colleagues in the Senate and indeed in the House of Reps that we come back and work on the request to enable INEC have its funds for the 2019 elections.

They have already announced the election time table and I am sure they will be constrained if there are no funds approved by the National Assembly,” he said.

He said the APC still has the majority in the Senate as he pledged the full support of the APC Senators to the President and the administration he leads.

“The APC remains the majority party in the Senate with 53 Senators and we have given their names and States. I know the other side is claiming it has 55, 60 or 70 but they have never given any name. In fact I challenge them to publish the names of their Senators, the PDP Senators.”

“We have published ours and among the 53, none has come out to deny that he/she is APC; they remain 48 Senators in PDP. And by the grace of God, when they by-elections in Bauchi and Katsina will hold, we will get two Senators and that will boost our number.”

“We have placed our total commitment and loyalty to our party and Mr. President, we remain true and genuine representatives of our people, we will not want to do anything that is not in the interest of our people and this administration,” Lawan stated.

National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole said the party is not surprised by the current defections, adding that the Senate President did well by clearly stating he had resigned from the party.

He said: “Nobody in the APC will be surprised about the development, in fact they have stayed little bit longer than we thought. Last week the Kwara has State Governor alluded to have said he was leaving but he didn’t say when. So, we are not surprised at all. But these are what I might call tempting moments because I had faced similar situations in my state, when people were leaving. But the beauty of democracy is that whether big or small, it is one man one vote, on Election Day, no difference between a Senator, a President, a Journalist and any other person. In a sense we have to accept that once a couple for any good reason or the other find that they not compatible, the only honourable thing is to go.

“I was happy for one thing is that the Senate President as a mark of honour accepted that he is leaving not because the new leadership did not make effort, he admitted that not only did I do everything possible along with the Vice President, along with some Governors and we had meeting with the President, but he argued that those efforts came too late. But I couldn’t have started acting before I was born. As it stands even now, APC is still the largest party in the senate, we have 53 senators, that is much more than PDP has, or APGA has. So, I think the important thing is that our democracy is still evolving; there are a couple of lessons to learn from the development. Going forward, we will expect the system to get stronger to the extent that it is able to learn the correct lessons and take the correct steps to profit from these developments.”

Oshiomhole said it’s not too late for the party to listen to its aggrieved members with genuine complaints.

“I have made this point and some commentators who don’t seem to understand take one part of the argument and leave the other, I have said that if people have genuine, verifiable grievances, we are committed even now to listen and address those grievances in what I call, win-win manner. I have been consistent with that during campaign, I have been consistent since I was sworn in, I have made the points in my acceptance speech, I have emphasized this when I met with the Senate caucus and speech, I have emphasized this when I met with the House of Representatives caucus, that we are ready to do justice to anyone who is genuinely aggrieved and whose grievances are such that we can deal with them provided we enthroned Justice, fairness and most sides purge themselves of any arrogance. To the best of my knowledge all Senators, house of reps members were happy, the ones that are not negotiable there is nothing we can do about it,” he said.