A former governor of Lagos State and national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress has panned the reports that he is backing Ahmed Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila to become Nigeria’s Senate president and Speaker respectively for selfish reasons.
Bola Tinubu’s critics say his backing for Lawan and Gbajabiamila, both of whom were endorsed by the party, was to shore up his chances of becoming the ruling party’s presidential candidate in 2023.
But Tinubu said he only aligned with the party wishes on whom become the leaders of Nigeria’s National Assembly in June.
“The stories claim this supposed manipulation is the first salvo in Asiwaju’s effort to position himself for a presidential run during the 2023 election cycle,” a statement released by his media office on Sunday said.
“Not only are these reports utterly false, based as they are in the febrile imaginations of those persons by whom they are being peddled, but they are also injurious to President Buhari’s historic quest to reform Nigeria.”
Both Lawan and Gbajabiamila were backed by APC leadership for the same positions in 2015. But Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara outsmarted the party and were elected with support from their peers in the People’s Democratic Party.
Saraki and Dogara defected to APC months before the 2015 elections and returned to the PDP before the 2019 general elections.
The National Assembly leadership under Saraki and Dogara, Tinubu claimed in the statement, impacted Nigeria’s growth. He claimed the two men deliberately delayed the passage of budgets and distorted the annual spending plan with the aim of profiting off the distortions.
“Just look at the way Saraki, Dogara and their ilk hijacked the budget process these past four years. National budgets were delayed and distorted as these actors repeatedly sought to pad budgets with pet projects that would profit them,” he said.
At different times in 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari blamed the Legislature for delaying projects his government aimed at implementing and for ‘padding’ the 2018 budget.
” I am concerned about some of the changes that the National Assembly has made to the budget proposals that I presented,” Buhari said on June 20, shortly before he signed 2018 spending plan into law.
“The logic behind the Constitutional direction that budgets should be proposed by the Executive is that it is the Executive that knows and defines its policies and projects.”
“The National Assembly made cuts amounting to 347 billion Naira in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration and introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to 578 billion Naira.
“Many of the projects cut are critical and may be difficult, if not impossible, to implement with the reduced allocation.
“Some of the new projects inserted by the National Assembly have not been properly conceptualized, designed and cost and will, therefore, be difficult to execute.”
Those sentiments expressed by the president were re-echoed in Tinubu’s statement on Sunday.
He said Saraki and Dogara masterminded the slashing of “funds intended to prosper projects that would have benefitted the average person.”
Hence, the APC “should do all we can to prevent a repeat of their malign control of the National Assembly.”
The former Lagos State governor insisted that his only interest in the National Assembly leadership is to see to the election of a “competent and experienced” leadership “imbued with a progressive mindset and a desire to work in close cooperation with [the] executive.”