Nigeria: Saraki Worked to Frustrate Govt Budgets - Lai Mohammed

Senate President Bukola Saraki.
6 August 2018

President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has accused Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, of frustrating the pace of government projects through deliberate delay of annual budgets of the government in the National Assembly.

Speaking in an interview,weekend, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, also described as fake news reports, penultimate Tuesday, of the siege to the home of the Senate President, saying nothing like that happened.

Mohammed, who spoke to newsmen in Lagos on the impact of defections on the government, also dismissed claims by Saraki that he did not get any appointment in Buhari government and claims by Governor Aminu Tambuwal that his state was starved of Federal Government projects.

Mohammed said: "We have a National Assembly in which we had a clear majority in both houses but which treated the executive with contempt and which actually slowed down the work of government.

"In 2016, 2017 and 2018, our budgets were delayed. We can understand 2015 budget because we came in the middle of the year. But 2016, 2017, the earliest we got our budgets passed was June.

"Key appointments, nominations and confirmations for key organisations that could move the government forward like CBN andNDIC were delayed. Really, it couldn't have been worse if the PDP had a majority in the National Assembly.

"The fundamental thing is that for us, it would have been better that they left a long time earlier because they have strangulated this government for too long. When you are now being betrayed by your party, it is more painful because we can't fight back as much as we wanted to fight back.

"I just want to establish that the foundation of what you are seeing today was laid as far back as the day he became Senate President."

Report of siege to Saraki's home is fake news

Asked to respond to the siege to the residence of the Senate President penultimate Tuesday, he said: "It was fake news, it didn't happen. I called the IG and the Police PRO went on television that it was not true.

"In this age of fake news, you could manipulate pictures in a manner that something that happened somewhere could be transposed here."

Opportunity of making appointments

Responding to Saraki's allegation that he was denied opportunity of making appointments in the APC Federal Government, he said: "I think it is a blatant lie that Kwara State was not considered in appointments. There are 26 appointees to boards, parastatals, either as members or DG from Kwara State and of these 26, I recommended only two. The other 24 were done by Dr. Bukola Saraki.

"In terms of development, the arterial road of Ilorin, Jebba, Mokwa, Birnin Gwari is 80 per cent completed. It is one of the major roads that links the state. On the other hand, it is this same government that awarded the contract for Lokoja-Omu Aran-Ilorin road.

"In terms of housing, we are building many two-bedroom houses in Ilorin. Again, in terms of appointment, one of the chairmen of parastatals is former chairman of APC, Ishola Balogun Fulani. So it is a blatant lie."

He said the exit of Saraki from the APC was for the people of Kwara State like their independence.

"As far as the people of Kwara State are concerned, it was as if finally, the state was being liberated. The excitement today in Kwara State is akin to how Nigeria felt on the eve of independence.

"The moment he joined the APC, the former ACN, former ANPP, former CPC members who are in APC, many of them left APC because they could not be in the same camp with him. So what we are witnessing today in Kwara State is like a liberation."

Saraki reacts

However, Saraki responding through his special adviser on media, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, debunked the claims by the minister, describing them as far-fetched.

He said: "How can the minister behave as if he was not in the country when Heads of MDAs will refuse to appear before National Assembly committees to defend their budget proposals.

"This year as late as June, the National Assembly leadership at a meeting reported to the President how his ministers were frustrating passage of the budget by not appearing before the legislative committees to defend their budget.

"On that occasion, President Buhari apologised to the legislators and said the impression he got before the meeting was different.

"On the police siege to the home of Saraki, if Mr. Mohammed can only believe the IG who told him he did not deploy policemen to prevent the passage of the Senate President, how did the pictures and video of the event that was circulated online come about? I am sure Mr. Mohammed is the only Nigerian who believes the siege did not take place."

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