PDP Senators May Defect to APC This Week
? Saraki: I am not after Mark?s seat, but?
By Hammed Shittu
Dozens of senators from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may have concluded arrangements to leave the party for the All Progressives Congress (APC) this week.
The affected senators, according to THISDAY checks, are primarily from three geopolitical zones of the North-central, North-east and North-west.
It was gathered that the senators had signed their defection letters that would be delivered to Senate President David Mark this week on their desire to leave the PDP for the APC.
Sources also informed THISDAY at the weekend that the delay in the senators? defection was not because of the alleged threat from the leadership of PDP that they would lose their seats, but was attributed to the fact that the senators had been consulting with their constituents on their planned defection and needed their final approval before they could move.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology, Senator Bukola Saraki, confirmed the planned defection of the PDP senators to reporters in Ilorin at the weekend.
He said: ?It would surely happen this week on the floor of the Senate. It is not a matter of maybe. It?s going to happen and it will surely happen this week and not in a month. Nigerians already know that all this is not about personal interest, but pure sacrifice.
?You know we were part of the PDP and it?s because we did not make any headway and that we needed to rescue the nation and put some things right and save the country from further disintegration in the hands of the ruling government.?
Saraki dismissed insinuations that the senators would lose their seats if they defected to APC, saying, ?None of the defecting senators would lose their seat.?
He added that a court action had put the issue of loss of seats by defecting lawmakers at bay.
The former Kwara State governor made it clear that his action and comments in the Senate now or in the future of the 7th assembly were borne out of his passion and commitment to good governance, rule of law, equity, fairness, adherence to the constitution, sustenance and protection of our democracy.
Saraki explained that he would continue to speak and voice out his beliefs, opinions and thoughts and ensure that what is right, just and fair in the interest of the Senate and the nation are entrenched.
During the chat, Saraki also made it clear that he was not after Senate President David Mark?s seat, saying, ?It would be unfortunate for anyone, in any quarters to state that I want Senator Mark?s seat. I do not want his seat, but I will not be blackmailed in not doing or say what I feel is right because I have been down this road a number of times while standing strong on not only what is right but in the best interest of our great country.
?Therefore, I will not succumb to cheap blackmail that all my intent was all about naked ambition or personal interest.?
To buttress his point, Saraki stated that in ?September 2011, I stood up then to demand transparency and accountability in the management of the fuel subsidy scheme, where I voiced out the ongoing massive fraud in the scheme which posed great threat to our economy.
?Then I was called names and told that I did not like Mr. President and that it was about 2015 election and that my figure was grossly inaccurate and no such mismanagement took place. Now the facts have shown otherwise.?
He further pointed out that during the PDP crises, when some governors and national members rose up to challenge the impunity of the then PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and the running of the party, he and others were called names but have now been vindicated by the turn out of events, even after they left the party.
Saraki said: ?For me to dissipate my time and energy seeking Senator David Mark?s seat with a year to the election and likely possible only six months of active legislative activities, it will be illogical. But as leaders, there will be issues that I will continue to speak and stand for what I believe, which is in the interest of the Senate and in my view, the interest of our nation.?
Referring to Section 215 (4) of the 1999 Constitution which clearly stipulates the power and authority of a state governor as the chief security officer of the state, whereby he can give orders and instructions to the Commissioner of Police of his state within the confines of the constitution but where such commissioner of police disobeys the governor?s instructions, like in Rivers State, Saraki said he could not keep quiet because what had happened in Rivers State was in breach of the constitution.
?We all recall that the present IG was a former Commissioner of Police in Kwara State under Governor Mohammed Lawal where he had an experience tougher than that of Amaechi of Rivers State.
?The present Inspector General of Police as Commissioner of Police then, created an enabling environment, peaceful atmosphere and stabilised the state for all in that matter and I was able to win my election under a free and fair atmosphere, which would not have been possible without the commitment of the IG towards entrenching security of lives and property in the state.
?It is believed that the Inspector General of Police has the experience, capability and maturity to manage the crisis, except if there are factors above him that impede his abilities to discharge his duties. As lawmakers and leaders, it is incumbent on us as part of our oversight functions to assist the IG to make sure that this issue does not engulf Rivers State or spread to any other state.
?It is a known fact, practice and procedure that the Nigerian police authorities under the IG have more than hundreds of Commissioners of Police, which he could move or redeploy as we have seen him do in other states, especially where a governor of a state requires a Commissioner of Police to be moved in view of their inability to work together in the interest of that state, it is expected of the IG to reason with such state governor.
?And if after such redeployment, the state governor further complains, then we all know where the problem is,? he said.
In the same vein, Saraki expressed his delight that the Senate had undertaken to look into the controversial issue of the unremitted billion of dollars of oil revenue into the Federation Account.
He said he was convinced that the Senate would do a thorough job and get to the bottom of the matter to unravel the mystery surrounding the whereabouts of huge amount in the interest of the nation, adding, ?It is our duty to ask for accountability, we do desire accountability by all agencies of government.
?When we members of the upper chamber shy away from this responsibility, then the country is in trouble. In doing this, we are not for or against NNPC, CBN or Ministry of Finance but for a better Nigeria.?