The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has claimed that the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara hijacked and padded national budgets for the four years that the party had been in power.
Mr. Tinubu made the allegation in a statement on Sunday by his media aide, Tunde Rahman, saying the two presiding officers of the National Assembly always padded the budgets with pet projects that profited them while they cut funds appropriated to projects that would have benefited Nigerians.
The former Lagos State governor had reacted to reports that he is backing some persons as leaders of the Ninth National Assembly due to alleged interest in the 2023 presidential race.
But he said his support for those candidates was to prevent a repeat of Saraki and Dogara’s era.
The statement partly read, “With the Senate leadership usurped by regressive elitists, that chamber constituted a brake on progress and good governance.
“The Senate leadership, and to a lesser degree, the House leadership, stymied the APC legislative initiatives while attempting to hoist noxious, reactionary and self-interested legislation on the nation.
“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.
“Even worse, they cut funds intended to prosper projects that would have benefited the average person. After four years of their antics halting the progress of government, we should do all we can to prevent a repeat of their malign control of the National Assembly.
“If we are truly committed to optimal governance, then we also must be equally committed to ensuring that the National Assembly leadership be competent and experienced as well as imbued with a progressive mindset and a desire to work in close cooperation with executive.
“This is all Asiwaju has hoped to achieve. There are no ulterior motives. Everything he has done is in concert with and in furtherance of the wishes of President Buhari and the party.
“Thus, those who cast aspersions at Asiwaju, in reality are bucking against the stated position of the President. This is a democracy and people have the right to oppose whomever they wish to oppose.
“However, if these mongers oppose the President, let them be of sufficient courage to plainly say so. They should not disparage Asiwaju as an indirect way to contend against the President
“In 2015, Senator Saraki finagled his way into the senate presidency. He planted himself at the apex of legislative power. But his actions as Senate President showed a man devoid of compassion for the average Nigerian. All he cared for was power and position. Soon he will be deprived of both.
“House Speaker Dogara has fared only slightly better. Occupying these positions is not a guarantee of future success. It is only a guarantee of present duty.
“Politics requires jockeying and maneuvering for influence to get the right people in the right positions. To be beneficial, politics must be tied to the greater purpose of governance such as with President Buhari’s goal to reform the national economy for the good of all Nigerians.
“In supporting the party and the President, Asiwaju has shown his commitment to achieving the President’s goals. Nothing more should be read into it.
“Elections are over. Now is the time for governance to take primacy. Those who have taken to intrigue about 2023 reveal themselves to be lacking in essential concern for the people and the substantive issues that confront us.
“Our challenges are steep and multiple. Resolving them will occupy all of our time and energy. We do not have the luxury to embark on fantasies about the future. Let the future stay where it is for now. In due time, it shall come and shall decide the shape it is to take regardless of the plans we mortals hold for it.
“As for Asiwaju, he lives in the here and now. His words and deeds are geared toward perfecting progressive governance and resolving the substantive issues of today. Nothing more, nothing less. Those so enamoured with gossiping about him, would do themselves and the nation well if they would follow his more productive example.”
Despite this, majority of Nigerians believe that Mt. Tinubu is eyeing the 2023 presidential race.
But the APC chieftain calls it “utterly false.”