The Comrade Adams Oshiomhole led National Working Committee NWC of the All Progressives Congress APC Tuesday met with the party caucus in the National Assembly to evolve strategies towards reconvening the two chambers of the legislature.
However, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara was conspicuously absent from the meeting.
Declaring the meeting open, Oshiomhole declared that the Senate President, Bukola Saraki would be impeached and asked him to remain where he is, that is the Peoples Democratic Party PDP saying he should not contemplate coming back to the ruling party.
“As governing party, I want to reassure the Nigerian people that we are committed to leading by example and that means absolute submission and obedience to the letters and spirit of the Nigerian Constitution and everything we will do, we will ensure that it is done according to law including the impeachment of Sen. Bukola Saraki. There is no hiding place for him. I insist, his time is up. The only way that probably, he could have retained that seat is to decide to return but we will not be ready to welcome him. He must remain where he is and we will continue to ensure that he surrenders the presidency of the senate to the majority party in the senate in line with the provisions of our constitution”, he said.
Oshiomhole also added that the APC has a clear majority in the senate with 56 senators, stating that the party cannot therefore allow itself to be subjected to the rule of the minority as exemplified by Saraki’s leadership of the upper chamber.
“I believe we now have 56 APC senators. That is more than half. That is a simple majority. I am made to understand that we have 109 senators. We have 56 out of 109. But we also know for a fact that as we speak, one of the APC senators is in prison for reasons which is not hidden from any Nigerian. So, if the senate resumes today, we have 56 of 108 senators and so there is no question of who is in charge.
“In the House of Representatives, there is no question that we have the overwhelming majority. Out of a total number of 360, we have 196 members of the House of Representatives including the very best, the brightest, the most rugged, the most committed members of the House.
“The Governors are not here, but we still have 22 solid Govs out of 36 and even the Mayor of Abuja is on our platform, the Honourable Minister of the FCT.
I want to speak to two issues. It is now clear that those who attempted political suicides are now haunted by their own ghosts. Even if it is their shadow that is chasing them, they will say it is the APC.
“Democracy teaches us that minority has the right to have their say but majority must have their way. So, if we have 56 senators and they have 49 senators, I insist that 49 senators cannot preside over the affairs of a house in which APC has 56 senators. And I ask them to tell us anywhere in the world where minority rules over majority.
“Often times, we take flights to Washington and other places to understudy the American Presidential system of government. Once you lose majority, without further ado, you step down and over and all of these stories about illegal impeachment, let me restate that we cannot be subjected to minority rule in the Nigerian senate and therefore, whether it is convenient for Distinguished Sen. Saraki or not, the truth is whether by morality or by law or by convention, Sen. Saraki can only avoid impeachment by toeing the path of honour, step down so that APC can take over the leadership of the House.
“So, I want to repeat, Sen. Saraki as President of the Senate will be lawfully and democratically impeached. It will not be illegally done. It will be done according to law and tradition. Those lawyers who have chosen to sit as judges, we need to remind them that lawyers are at best, officers of the court; they do not constitute the court. So, when Sen. Saraki is lawfully and democratically impeached, they will be free to go to anywhere they want to go and canvass the legality or the illegality of the action. It is not in their place to pronounce with finality as if they constitute the judicial arm of government.
“I am also happy that just recently, when our party went to court to challenge the bill that was under consideration in the National Assembly with regards to order of elections where the court held that based on the principles of separation of powers, that the court cannot stop the legislature from exercising their independence. But when they have so exercised their independence and make a law or a decision, now the legality of that decision as it relates to the constitution can be challenged in the court. So, all those who are wasting their time believing that they can go and file spurious cases in various types of courts so that they can in turn wrongly hang on it to purport that the matter is in court and therefore the senate cannot exercise their fundamental right to determine their leadership, they need to read carefully that judgment by the Court of Appeal. This morning I saw some people saying they are going to court to stop the senate president from being impeached. That will be an exercise in futility because the court cannot impose on the senate who leads them. It is at the discretion of the senate to determine who rules them.
“We have very many important issues which require the National Assembly to deliberate on. Those issues that were pending when the two presiding officers hurriedly adjourned the deliberations of the House without exhausting the calendar. The result is that we have serious pending issues that require deliberations by the National Assembly including the issue of the approval of foreign loans without which this year’s budget cannot perform; the issue of the INEC budget and virement of the budget. Ours is to appeal to all of you that your commitment to the sustenance of democracy is enough to get you to do all that you can to get the National Assembly to reconvene so that these and other weighty national issues will be deliberated upon, appropriate decisions reached so that the Nigerian government is not shut down. If we do not take those steps and government cannot spend money that should be appropriated, we run the risk of government shutdown. As members of the governing party, I believe you will do whatever is needed to be done to prevent a government shutdown.
“I want to reassure you that we value you; all the stories about people being denied or that you would be frustrated out, I want to assure you that our party values experience; our party values knowledge; our party values loyalty and our party will do everything possible to reward loyalty and demonstrate that loyalty pays and we will not be ashamed to do so. We are already doing so many things on our part but like they say, the taste of the pudding is in the eating. With time, all these shall come to pass and we would have kept our word as you have kept yours.
“Let me assure all of us that the National Working Committee is making this promise publicly and we are doing you no favour. Legislation and the legislature requires experience because nobody can give what he does not have. We see people like Senator McCain, when they speak, American people listen. High turn over of legislators is not a value to be celebrated. What we should celebrate is experience which cannot be read in books, but can be acquired on the job. I want to reassure you that we will do everything possible to change the old narrative of heavy turn over every four years and this will change over time for the good of Nigeria and for the maintenance of democracy.”
On his part, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yusuf Lasun expressed dismay at the inability of the federal legislature to reconvene Tuesday, saying that was not the initial plan.
“I am not particularly happy that we are not able to reconvene the Assembly today because we decided few days back that we were going to sit and consider those items that are very important and may likely hamper the function of INEC and other programmes without which the implementation of the capital component of the 2018 budget would have been slightly difficult. We are party members and I must say that I like the assurance of the chairman that members are not going to be abandoned because it is always very hot outside there. I have always told people that if you want to become part of the endangered species, come to the National Assembly. That is why whatever efforts we make while conducting our businesses while in the hallowed chambers must be adequately compensated for by the party”.
Senate Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan also speaking said; “This has been a season of defections, reflection, temptations and sacrifices. Most of our colleagues here have sacrificed friendship to remain where they are and to do what exactly what the party wants. I am sure that this season is also a season of regrets because some of our people who left have already seen the real sign. Already those who have left are not finding it easy in their new homes.
“Every senator and House of Representatives member in the APC fold today deserves very gentle handling, good treatment. Some of them have stayed despite the issues they face either with their governors or their state chapters. That means that, as you have promised and we have seen the signs already, the party will ensure that all issues in contention are resolved and in good time. Very soon we will be facing the primaries and so, I think that between now and end of the month is a very good time to resolve all the individual cases that are outstanding so that our colleagues will see and continue to feel that loyalty pays and disloyalty doesn’t”.
House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila on his part said the caucus must find a way to get the National Assembly to reconvene. “We have to find a find a way of reconvening the Assembly because as it is, we are heading for a constitutional crisis and an inevitable government shut down because the two things that need to be done are the budget for the election and the funding of the capital projects and without the approval, that will be difficult. I was with the Minister of Finance a couple of weeks ago and she told me in no uncertain terms that if she does not get the necessary approval from the National Assembly by end of August, we should forget funding for the capital budget. That is why I said it is a task that must be done. I want to use this opportunity to appeal to the Presiding Officers to allow us reconvene the House for this singular purpose. It is just a one day exercise, so that we can all go on our break. A lot of our members are supposed to be in Saudi Arabia right now. We had to go to the Hajj Commission to have their flight delayed because today was supposed to be the last day. They agreed to delay the last flight till Thursday with the hope that we will reconvene today and tomorrow and do what is necessary. I know that these members will be rewarded for their unalloyed loyalty to the party.
We have 196 members in the house and that is about 40 members more than the PDP. With that number, we can do the party agenda in the House. Even within the PDP, we also have some members who will join us.