The Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, on Monday described as baseless a claim by the former All Progressives Congress Interim National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, that their elections on June 9 were sponsored by oil barons.
Saraki and Dogara stated this in separate statements by their aides in Abuja on Monday.
Akande, in a widely publicised statement on Sunday, had alleged that oil barons who never liked President Muhammadu Buhari`s anti-corruption stance, sponsored the elections of Saraki and Dogara in a bid to stifle the new government.
Akande also alleged that some splinter groups within the APC were aligning with old and new Peoples Democratic Party forces to launch a platform for the 2019 polls.
Dogara, in a statement in Abuja by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Turaki Hassan, challenged Akande to name the oil barons.
The speaker said he expected Akande, an elder statesman, to play his fatherly role at a period of disputes within the APC’s family by seeking ways to reconcile the factions, rather than attacking his person.
Dogara said that the allegations existed only in Akande’s “imagination”, adding that he won his election based on the support of his colleagues, his competence and capacity to preside over the House as the Speaker.
The speaker recalled that the first investigative motion passed by the House after his election was to probe the alleged crude oil swap contracts awarded by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
He noted that it did not make sense for him to back the probe of the same oil sector’s stakeholders Akande alleged to have sponsored his election.
Part of the statement read, “It is baseless and lacking in substance and merit and can best be described as figment of Chief Akande`s imagination.
“We challenge Chief Akande to name the so-called oil barons whom he alleged sponsored the election of the speaker.
“In case Chief Akande does not know, the first investigative motion adopted by the 8th House of Representatives under the leadership of the Speaker was to investigate the allegation of fraud in the oil-swap contract awarded by the NNPC.
“A resolution for investigation into the allegation was passed to constitute an ad-hoc committee to investigate the NNPC as well as its subsidiary, Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, over the swap contracts.
“How then can the House, under the leadership of Mr. Speaker, order investigation into activities of those who allegedly sponsored its election?”
The speaker claimed that his anti-corruption stance was not in doubt as the Legislative Agenda of the 8th House of Representatives adequately captured it.
“Mr. Speaker has on different occasions reiterated his resolve to compliment President Buhari`s anti-corruption stance and insists that the present crop of leaders don’t have any excuse to give to Nigerians on the change promised them before and during the election that brought the APC into power”, he said.
Also, the Special Assistant to the Senate President on Print Media, Chuks Okocha, described the allegations as mischievous and totally false.
Okocha, in a statement in Abuja on Monday, said Akande’s claim gave a negative and dirty impression that the emergence of the senate president was aimed at sabotaging the anti-corruption posture of Buhari’s government and the ‘Change agenda’ of the APC.
He said, “Ordinarily, we would have ignored the report, but for the sole reason that some undiscerning readers might mistake the fiction for the facts.
“We also wish to state unequivocally that it was wrong and mischievous for the statement by Chief Akande to link what happened on the floor of both chambers to some unnamed oil barons.
“We dare say that the entire story was the figment of the imagination of the author.”
Okocha added that Saraki, as the chairman of an ad hoc committee in the 7th Senate, exposed the fraud and mismanagement in the oil sector.
He said, “Until Saraki raised his motion on the floor of the Senate, no one was in the picture of the rot in the sector or took any action.”
“Senator Saraki will be the last person the oil baron will want to see as Senate President. No doubt, we make bold to state that Saraki is the last person to be so sponsored by the oil barons or cabals.
“In that position, Saraki did not only lead his colleagues in exposing the rot in the scheme, but made very strong recommendations on how the system could be reformed and made corruption- free.”
Okocha said that it was on records that after Saraki’s motion on the floor of the Senate, the House of Representatives followed it up with the oil subsidy probe.
He recalled that the ministers of Finance and Petroleum were summoned and, at least, over N500bn was saved.
Okocha said, “During the Senate hearing on the missing $20bn, for those who attended the public hearing, Senator Saraki led the onslaught of difficult questions to the Minister of Finance, Minister of Petroleum and other federal agencies, despite being in the ruling party then.
“To this effect, Senator Saraki refused to sign the final copy of the committee’s report but rather, put forward a minority report with a press statement that followed suit.”
He added that Saraki opposed the inclusion of kerosene subsidy in the 2015 budget, adding that the senate president rejected the Petroleum Swap deal by the NNPC.
Okocha stated, “Let it be known, therefore, that the Senate Presidency of Dr. Bukola Saraki would not in any way be a stumbling block against President Buhari’s posture against anti- corruption.
“Rather, the 8th Senate under him as the president would give all necessary legislative support to the administration to fight and reduce corruption as his previous actions and bold steps taken against the so called oil barons indicate that Saraki is committed to anti-corruption.”
He said that Saraki was elected unopposed as the Senate President, adding that it was a lie that his election was sponsored by oil barons.
“Senator Bukola Saraki is determined and focused to achieve for the Senate targeted legislative agenda and he is committed to support President Buhari to deliver on his promises to the people of Nigeria,” Okocha said.