Saraki Expresses Disappointment Over Supreme Court Ruling

Press Release

After listening to the ruling of the Supreme Court in the appeal he filed to challenge the process of arraigning him before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki hereby states as follows :

1. He expresses disappointment over the Judgment of the apex court in the country on the six grounds of his appeal

2. He however will like to put it on record that the facts of the substantial matter are not before the Supreme Court since the apex court was only invited to rule on some preliminary issues in the process of commencing the trial.

3. The Senate President believes he will have his day in the court to prove his innocence of the charges preferred against him during the trial proper.

4. Dr. Saraki will like to thank everyone who has expressed support for him from the beginning of the case. He assures everyone that at the end of the day truth will prevail and justice will be served.

Signed

Yusuph Olaniyonu

Saraki’s Supporters Leaves Supreme Court Heartbroken (Photos)

Supporters of the embattled senate president Bukola Saraki, today left premises of the Nigerian Supreme Court heartbroken after the court ruled that their principal should face trial for false declaration of assets while he was governor of Kwara state.

An eyewitness who was at the court premises told Osun Defender that, many of the praise singers hired to chant victory songs left disappointed, head bowed, when the court ruled in favour of the federal government.

In an unanimous judgement read by Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, the court resolved that the Code of Conduct Tribunal was properly constituted and therefore meets the quorum to try Bukola Saraki.

Osun Defender also learnt the Supreme Court ruled that the Code of Conduct Tribunal properly served charges on senate president and that the absence of AGF doesn’t constitute incompetence of charges at Code of Conduct

All the six issues raised against the Appeal Court judgment by Senator Saraki were resolved in favour of the prosecution.

 

People leaving the supreme court People leaving the supreme court1 People leaving the supreme court2 People leaving the supreme court3

Photo Credit: Sahara Reporters

Breaking: Saraki Loses Appeal At Supreme Court, To Face Trial At CCT

The trial of Senate President Bukola Saraki by the Code of Conduct Tribunal will go on after the Supreme Court in a unanimous decision read by Justice Samuel Walter Onnoghen dismissed his appeal against the decision of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal had ruled that the CCT was right to try Saraki on 13 count charges of false assets declaration.

All the six issues raised against the appeal court judgment by Saraki were resolved in favour of the prosecution.

A three-judge panel of the Supreme Court led by a retiring Justice John Fabiyi had on December 4, 2015, ordered a stay of proceeding by the Tribunal pending the determination of Mr. Saraki’s appeal. The court also asked counsel on both sides to submit their briefs of argument within 14 days. The court then fixed February 5, 2016, to deliver its judgement.

Mr. Saraki’s appeal before the country’s apex court contends that the CCT lacks jurisdiction to try him. His lawyers argue that the tribunal was not duly constituted as it comprised two instead of three members provided for by the Constitution. Also, the embattled Senate President’s lawyers claim that the charges against Mr. Saraki were not competent. But the court in a unanimous decision dismissed Mr. Saraki’s appeal, stating the charges were both valid and competent.

The senate president will now face trial at the court of appeal for false declaration of asset on a day to be fixed by the tribunal.

Code Of Conduct Tribunal: Saraki To Know Fate Today

Nigeria’s Supreme Court will give its verdict today in the appeal filed by Senate President Bukola Saraki, challenging his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

The court heard lawyers from the various parties on 3 December, 2015.

Saraki is standing trial at the CCT on allegations of false declaration of assets.

At the 3 December hearing of the appeal, Saraki’s lawyer, Mr Joseph Daudu (SAN), told the panel of seven Justices of the apex court led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Mahmud Mohammed, that his legal team formulated six issues for determination.

He argued that the charge against Saraki could not stand in the face of the law because there was no substantive Attorney-General of the Federation (A-GF) when it was instituted.

He said that as at the time Saraki was put on trial, there was no evidence that an AGF delegated his power to institute criminal charge against him as required by the law.

Daudu also argued that the tribunal was not properly constituted as stipulated by law.

According to him, the law provides that the CCT shall only sit on trial with a three-member panel.

He said that the tribunal has only two members, including the Chairman, Justice Danladi Umar, and cannot form a quorum.

The lawyer further argued that, by implication, if there would be any disagreement on issues in the course of the trial, the chairman would impose his views on the other member.

Daudu also argued that the tribunal lacked the jurisdiction to try criminal matters.

He said the tribunal was only established by law to serve as a disciplinary committee for public officers and not a court that can assume criminal jurisdiction.

Counsel to the Federal Government, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), ‎however, asked the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.

He said the CCT was properly constituted and has power to go ahead with two members.

He argued that two of the three members of the tribunal formed a quorum in compliance with Interpretation Act.

He said the constitution does not insist that there must be three-man panel before the CCT can hear and determine cases.

Jacobs also argued that in the absence of AGF, the law empowers the Solicitor-General of the Federation to institute a criminal charge against any person.

He, therefore, urged the court to resolve the issue in favour of the Federal Government and order Saraki to face his trial before the tribunal.

Saraki took his case to the Supreme Court following the verdict of the Court of Appeal in which two out of three-man panel ruled that his trial at CCT was in order.

Justice Moore Adumein , who read the majority verdict on 30 October, 2015 upheld the trial .

He said the tribunal, which docked the Senate President on 22 September and 21 October was properly constituted, thus trashing one of the grounds of the objections to the trial by Senate President and his lawyers.

The dissenting third judge, Justice Joseph Ekanem however ruled that Saraki’s appeal has merit.

On the contrary, the majority judges, including Justice Mohammed Mustapha, in their verdict said the tribunal led by Danladi Umar could sit with the chairman and one other member.

Agumanen said they relied on section 28 of the Interpretation Act to reach the decision.

He said the Code of Conduct Tribunal and Code of Conduct Bureau Act and the constitution did not talk about a quorum.

In a further blow to the Senate President, the majority judges said the CCT has criminal jurisdiction, though limited.

The judges also ruled that the Code of Conduct Tribunal has powers to issue a bench warrant.

Success Of 2016 Budget Depends On Revenue Generation – Saraki

Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday said if the 2016 Budget National Assembly is going to be realistic and successful, emphasis should be on the non oil and independent revenue generating sources.

Saraki, while answering questions from Senate Correspondents after commissioning the newly upgraded and refurbished Senate Press Centre at the National Assembly in Abuja, said the eighth Senate will focus attention on the revenue generating areas and to ensure that all leakages are blocked.

The Senate President stated that though the 2016 budget proposal is ambitious but it can be achieved if all that is necessary to make it work is put in place.

When asked if the 2016 budget is implementable in view of the dwindling price of crude oil at the international market, Saraki said: “I think this is one of the reasons why we are having the MDAs defend their proposals before the Committees to be able to test some of the scenarios and some of the assumptions, particularly on the revenue side. if you look at the revenue, out of about N3.8trillion, N3trillion is coming from non-oil and independent revenue.

“The success of the budget, in my own view is less on the benchmark. It is more on those two items – non-oil revenue and independent revenue – and that is why we directed our Committee on Finance and other relevant Committees to really scrutinize the revenue side.

“Even the Senate leadership intends to also engage with the ministries as well to really check those two lines, because that is really where the questions come on whether it is achievable. Before we put our signature to it, we need to be sure that those funds are there.

“I believe they are ambitious but it is a good sign, because it begins to make us less dependent on oil. Because if N830billion is coming from oil revenue and it is only 23%. So, even if the price of oil goes down or up, we are not really so much vulnerable than that of the time oil revenue was accounting for 70 of our revenue. From that point of view, I believe that once we can do that, it is achievable,” he said.

The Senate President also advised the executive to put a proper plan in place for implementing the budget now that the National Assembly is working to pass it in record time.

He said the National Assembly would soon amend the Public Procurement Act to facilitate quick implementation of the budget.

Saraki added: “But also talking about being achievable or implementable, already, some of the things we are going to look at and which we are going to advise the executive on is that while we are working on the budget now, they too should also start making a plan on how to implement the budget because what tends to happen is that even after we have passed a budget, the administration or its bureaucracy sometimes makes the budget difficult to be realisable.

“And two areas: one is looking at the procurement process and it is very likely that we will need to come out with an amendment bill as regards to certain areas of the procurement law. That is something that we are likely to come out with very soon. People are looking at that now to see again how we can assist the executive to see that the budget is implementable,” he said.

On the need for transparency and openness in the National Assembly budget, Saraki said: “On the issue of National Assembly, I think I’ve kept on repeating this many times. If you remember, even during the time the leadership was constituted, one of the issues that came forward was that we will have an open and transparent Eight Senate and I still want to be held to that.

“Also during this process, of course, National Assembly budget too will also be debated and by the time the final document is out, I can assure you that we are going to move away from the time of one line item for the National Assembly to a National Assembly where there will be a break down according to different sections of the institution.”

While commenting on the remodeled and refurbished Senate Press Centre, Saraki said the 8th Senate is poised to leave a good legacy behind in all aspects of the National Assembly.

He said: “It (upgraded Senate Press Centre) signifies a commitment that we all see that in the Eight Senate, we will ensure that every aspect, we are poised to do things differently. We will try and improve on what we met and I hope by the time we finish our tenure, we would have left the Senate better than we met it.”

Earlier, Chairman Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi said the Press Centre was refurbished to create a befitting working environment for journalists reporting the activities of the Senate.

Abdullahi said: “What we have done here with your magnanimous support, we have turned this place around so that when we come here to speak to Nigerians about the Senate, let Nigerians see that the environment we are doing it is befitting of that institution.”

In his response, Vice Chairman of the Senate Press Corps, Shagari Sumbo thanked the leadership of the Senate for improving on the Senate Press Centre and making it more conducive for the Correspondents to carry out their assignments.

Saraki’s Take On The 2016 Budget

Distinguished colleagues,

Let me congratulate you all for the painstaking insightful and detailed deliberation we have had so far. The debate has been very critical and engaging.

From both sides of the isle, I have watched and seen for myself an exceptional commitment towards the Nigeria project. The debate over the 2016 budget has been civil, apolitical and laced with the desire to deliver this budget. Again, both sides of the isle have described this budget as courageous and unique. I heard many used the word, ‘Uncommon’ describing the budget as a clear departure from the past. I totally agree with your position.

One, in the area of revenue where for the first time we are talking about 77% of our revenue will not depend on oil. Oil only accounts for 23%. This to me, and to all of us, is the most important area of this budget. It will be a great foundation not only for today but for the future, if this can be achieved.

Also in the area of capital which is about 30%, (which is a first in over 5years) deserves our commendation. This has been a benchmark that has looked seemingly impossible to achieve in the past. Yes a lot of comments have been made over the level of borrowing that may occur as a result, I think in general summary, it must be acknowledged for many things; the borrowing is targeted at only capital projects and could provide the necessary fillip to stimulate the economy fro growth. Even as of now, as a percentage of GDP, we are still within the limits and parameters. But what is important is that the National Assembly would ensure that all appropriated money is judiciously used for what it is appropriated for.

In the area of diversification, a lot of observations were made for the fact that the area of agriculture and minerals did not reflect – the message of diversification did not reflect in the numbers that were allocated to those particular sectors. Those are the areas that we should look into. The observation on equitable distribution was also highly well noted. This is also an area we take note when we go into our deliberations.

Distinguished colleagues, you would recall that on the issue of benchmark, a lot of people have justifiably raised their concern. Last week, the direction of oil price had moved downwards but as we can see, as at yesterday we see that the price has picked up again to above $30. So, the message there we have to make our decision both on the immediate, short and long term before we decide based on daily effects to the local benchmark.

Distinguished colleagues, one issue that we cannot play game is blocking leakages and cutting out wastages. It is important to note that the issue of blocking leakages is key and for the experience of the past, we must learn for the future and if we don’t talk about the future there is no way to talk about the present.

Another issue is the issue of the war against corruption. We are hand in glove with the president on this matter this is why we are going to be overhauling our oversight systems to make them more effective in exposing corruption. We recognize the hard work that our anticorruption agencies. This Senate must support them adequately to do their duty effectively by providing them with adequate funding. I am sure the relevant committee will look at that.

Distinguished colleague, Mr. President has played his own role, it is now the time for us to play our own role. Sub-Committee on Appropriation, I hope we will all take note of all the observations that have been made and highlighted.

Key areas, for the Committee, particularly, the Committee on Finance and Petroleum, is the estimate. Very key that we get this right because if we don’t get this right, there is a likelihood of we archiving what will not work. So, I like these committees to particularly be very ready to critically scrutinize this revenue estimate that we can all put our name too and ensure that every item and every objective it has been designed to achieve have been fully captured.

On our parts, we will ensure that starting from tomorrow, the sub-committee will start to meet with MDGs and start to present defence on the budget. The submission of the reports that we need for those two weeks from February 12 to February 18, we will want those reports to be before the Appropriation Committee.

Distinguished colleagues, as we scrutinize the other budget from different ministries, as part of also leading by example, also the budget on our side, first time we have made commitment about it to be open about it and to know what of going to the Senate, to the management and to the different parts on the National Assembly, it is important also that we can see there will be much over sight functions for this budget to be effective. So, when we are doing the National Assembly budget, we must take this into note that we must empower our Committees to be able to do proper oversight and also it is clear that our own laws that exist now also need review in order to be in line with the new direction of prudence and efficiency. Again, that is going to be mean a lots of work to our committees. So, our committee on Services should address this issue in the budget.

Now, to let me categorically make it clear as we have said and all agreed, there is no room for money for budgeting in the process. Any allegation of such will be thoroughly investigate by Ethic Committee and such allegations where proven will be met with severe sanctions. We will ensure that where it involves an agency of government, we will play our own role, we will report it to the executive and ensure that they take appropriate action in this area. We must ensure that the integrity of this institution will continue to sustained and not tarnished by anyone.

On this note, distinguished colleagues, I thank you all for your contributions and I hope that we have made the commitment as we agreed to pass this 2016 appropriation bill in record time. I will direct that the Appropriation Committee should target February 24th, 2016 to be able to submit their report.

On this closing remark, I will like put the question that those in Favour that this

PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

‘You Are Corrupt And Greedy,’ Obasanjo Writes Saraki

Former president Olusegun Obasanjo has written a scathing letter to the leadership of the National Assembly, describing the institution as corrupt and full of greedy individuals.

In a letter exclusively obtained by online news platform, Premium Times, Mr. Obasanjo accused the lawmakers of fixing and earning salaries and allowances far above what the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission approved for them.

Osun Defender recalls trouble started for former president Goodluck Jonathan when Gen Obasanjo wrote a similar letter, exposing the faults of that administration. The letter marked the beginning of the end of the ill-fated tenure.

Mr. Obasanjo in this letter, also pointed out major faults of the 8th Assembly. He alleged that most of the 109 senators and 369 members of the House of Representatives were receiving constituency allowances without maintaining constituency offices as the laws required of them.

Read the full letter below:

January 13, 2016

Distinguished Senator Bukola Saraki,
President of the Senate,
Federal Republic of Nigeria,
Senate Chambers,
Abuja.
Honourable Yakubu Dogara,
Speaker, House of Representatives,
National Assembly Complex,
Abuja.

It is appropriate to begin this letter, which I am sending to all members of the Senate and the House of Representatives through both of you at this auspicious and critical time, with wishes of Happy New Year to you all.

On a few occasions in the past, both in and out of office as the President of Nigeria, I have agonised on certain issues within the arms of government at the national level and among the tiers of government as well. Not least, I have reflected and expressed, outspokenly at times, my views on the practice in the National Assembly which detracts from distinguishness and honourability because it is shrouded in opaqueness and absolute lack of transparency and could not be regarded as normal, good and decent practice in a democracy that is supposed to be exemplary. I am, of course, referring to the issue of budgets and finances of the National Assembly.

The present economic situation that the country has found itself in is the climax of the steady erosion of good financial and economic management which grew from bad to worse in the last six years or so. The executive and the legislative arms of government must accept and share responsibility in this regard. And if there will be a redress of the situation as early as possible, the two arms must also bear the responsibility proportionally. The two arms ran the affairs of the country unmindful of the rainy day. The rainy day is now here. It would not work that the two arms should stand side by side with one arm pulling and without the support of the other one for good and efficient management of the economy.

The purpose of election into the Legislative Assembly particularly at the national level is to give service to the nation and not for the personal service and interest of members at the expense of the nation which seemed to have been the mentality, psychology, mindset and practice within the National Assembly since the beginning of this present democratic dispensation. Where is patriotism? Where iscommitment? Where is service?

The beginning of good governance which is the responsibility of all arms and all the tiers of government is openness and transparency. It does not matter what else we try to do, as long as one arm of government shrouds its financial administration and management in opaqueness and practices rife with corruption, only very little, if anything at all, can be achieved in putting Nigeria on the path of sustainable and enduring democratic system, development and progress. Governance without transparency will be a mockery of democracy.

Let us be more direct and specific so that action can be taken where it is urgently necessary. A situation where our national budget was predicated on $38 per barrel of oil with estimated 2 million barrels per day and before the budget was presented, the price of oil had gone down to $34 per barrel and now hovering around $30 and we have no assurance of producing 2 million barrels and if we can, we have no assurance of finding market for it, definitely calls for caution. If production and price projected in the budget stand, we would have to borrow almost one third of the 6 trillion naira budget. Now beginning with the reality of the budget, there is need for sober reflection and sacrifice with innovation at the level of executive and legislative arms of government. The soberness, the sacrifice and seriousness must be patient and apparent.

It must not be seen and said that those who, as leaders, call for sacrifice from the citizenry are living in obscene opulence. It will not only be insensitive but callously so. It would seem that it is becoming a culture that election into the legislative arm of government at the national level in particular is a licence for financial misconduct and that should not be. The National Assembly now has a unique opportunity of presenting a new image of itself. It will help to strengthen, deepen, widen and sustain our democracy.

By our Constitution, the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission is charged with the responsibility of fixing emoluments of the three arms of government: executive, legislature and judiciary. The Commission did its job but by different disingenuous ways and devices, the legislature had overturned the recommendation of the Commission and hiked up for themselves that which they are unwilling to spell out in detail, though they would want to defend it by force of arm if necessary. What is that?

Mr. President of the Senate and Hon. Speaker of the House, you know that your emolument which the Commission had recommended for you takes care of all your legitimate requirements: basic salary, car, housing, staff, constituency allowance. Although the constituency allowance is paid to all members of the National Assembly, many of them have no constituency offices which the allowance is partly meant to cater for. And yet other allowances and payments have been added by the National Assembly for the National Assembly members’ emoluments. Surely, strictly speaking, it is unconstitutional. There is no valid argument for this except to see it for what it is – law-breaking and impunity by lawmakers. The lawmakers can return to the path of honour, distinguishness, sensitivity and responsibility. The National Assembly should have the courage to publish its recurrent budgets for the years 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2015. That is what transparency demands. With the number of legislators not changing, comparisoncan be made. Comparisons in emoluments can also be made with countries like Ghana, Kenya, Senegal and even Malaysia and Indonesia who are richer and more developed than we are.

The budget is a proposal and only an estimate of income and expenditure. Where income is inadequate, expenditure will not be made. While in government, I was threatened with impeachment by the members of the National Assembly for not releasing some money they had appropriated for themselves which were odious and for which there were no incomes to support. The recent issue of cars for legislators would fall into the same category. Whatever name it is disguised as, it is unnecessary and insensitive. A pool of a few cars for each Chamber will suffice for any Committee Chairman or members for any specific duty. The waste that has gone into cars, furniture, housing renovation in the past was mind-boggling and these were veritable sources of waste and corruption. That was why they were abolished. Bringing them back is inimical to the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians.

The way of proposing budget should be for the executive to discuss every detail of the budget, in preparation, with different Committees and sub-Committees of the National Assembly and the National Assembly to discuss its budget with the Ministry of Finance. Then, the budget should be brought together as consolidated budget and formally presented to the National Assembly, to be deliberated and debated upon and passed into law. It would then be implemented as revenues are available. Where budget proposals are extremely ambitious like the current budget and revenue sources are so uncertain, more borrowing may have to be embarked upon, almost up to 50% of the budget or the budget may be grossly unimplementable and unimplemented. Neither is a choice as both are bad. Management of the economy is one of the key responsibilities of the President as prescribed in the Constitution. He cannot do so if he does not have his hands on the budget. Management of the economy is shared responsibility where the Presidency has the lion share of the responsibility. But if the National Assembly becomes a cog in the wheel, the executive efforts will not yield much reward or progress. The two have to work synchronisingly together to provide the impetus and the conducive environment for the private sector to play its active vanguard role. Management of the budget is the first step to manage the economy. It will be interesting if the National Assembly will be honourable enough and begin the process of transparency, responsibility and realism by publishing its recurrent budgets for 2016 as it should normally be done.

Hopefully, the National Assembly will take a step back and do what is right not only in making its own budget transparent but in all matters of financial administration and management including audit of its accounts by external outside auditor from 1999 to date. This, if it is done, will bring a new dawn to democracy in Nigeria and a new and better image for the National Assembly and it will surely avoid the Presidency and the National Assembly going into face-off all the time on budgets and financial matters.

While I thank you for your patience and understanding, please accept, Dear Senate President and Honourable Speaker of the House, the assurances of my highest consideration.

OLUSEGUN OBASANJO

Restore Confidence In Public Service – Saraki Tells PCC

Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has called on the leadership of the  Public Complaints Commission (PCC) to be more alive to their responsibilities so as to restore the confidence of Nigerians in the Public Service.

Senator Bukola Saraki

Saraki who gave the charge when the Chairman of PCC, Chief Emmanuel Ogbile led other National Commissioners and Directors of the agency on a courtesy visit to the Senate in Abuja said the PCC should be restructured in order to be true watchdog on behalf of the people concerning the work and services of public servants.

He also urged the Commission to through their work dispel widespread notions that public servants are no more committed to rendering services to the people but only occupy public offices for selfish ends.

Saraki, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sanni Onogu in Abuja said: “Truly you are really the watchdog of Nigerians to ensure that the public service delivers for Nigerians. If you are performing, then, Nigerians should be satisfied with the public service or have confidence that there is a commission they can go to be able to report what they are not satisfied with.

“In most developed countries this kind of agency plays a very key role in the lives of the people and for those in public service the fear of the Public Complaints Commission is the beginning of wisdom and people will be able to perform and deliver.

“And generally we would have seen satisfaction on both sides because one of the major concerns in our country today, is that people believe that those in public service really have no commitment or obligation to serve Nigerians.

“They believe they are there to serve themselves and if you play your role, whoever finds himself in any of the utility agencies will know that he has a responsibility to Nigerians,” he said.

The Senate President also called on the Commission to submit any aspect of their Establishment Act hindering their effectiveness for review by the National Assembly.

He said: “You must have the capacity to carry out your roles. Therefore, if there are parts of the law that will also strengthen you because you must have the capacity not only to bark but to bite. If you don’t have capacity to bite no matter how much publicity or public fora you organize, people will not take you seriously.

“But if you have the capacity to both bark and bite, it will be the beginning of your delivering on your mandate. Again, some of the things we want to change in our society is this kind of issue when we talk about governance and accountability – governance and accountability starts from the approach and services of the public servants, so I am very prepared to support you,” he stated.

Earlier, the Chairman of the PCC, Chief Emmanuel Ogbile said following the charge of the Senate President during the Commission’s visit last year, the Commission has commenced restructuring of the agency to make it more focussed on its mandate of investigation and speedy resolution complaints submitted to it by Nigerians.

Ogbile said: “One of such issues is that the Commission is not known. The Commission is not appreciated. The Commission is not trusted. It is not delivering to Nigerians. And recalling that you put us on the line, we have done a number of things aimed at repositions the Commission to deliver on its mandate to Nigerians.”

Saraki To Ex-legislative Aides: Payment Of Severance Allowance Will Soon Commence

Senate President and Chairman of the National Assembly, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has assured  legislative aides and members of the 7th National Assembly that the  payment of their severance allowance will soon commence.

Saraki, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu said all efforts were being made to ensure that the former aides are paid their entitlements, and attributed the delay to the non-release of the funds by the Federal Ministry of Finance.

The National Assembly had on December 1, 2015 passed the N575 billion supplementary budget presented to it by President Muhammadu Buhari, out of which N10.6 billion was allocated for the settlement of the severance benefits of the legislative aides and members of the Seventh National Assembly. Five billion Naira is earmarked for severance allowance of ex-legislative aides

It will be recalled that the tenure of the 2015 appropriation bill has been extended till March this year by the Federal Legislature.

However, several weeks after the budget was assented to, by Buhari, the former aides were yet to be paid, a situation that prompted the aggrieved beneficiaries to stage a protest last week at the National Assembly complex.

Saraki, according to the statement assured that,”as soon as the money is released, all the beneficiaries will be paid promptly. The request has already been made by the National Assembly management.

“As Senate President and  Chairman of the National Assembly, I share in the plight of the aides of my colleagues, and I will ensure that their case is fast-tracked to ease their present difficulties,” the Senate President assured.

Both the  Chairman of the Senate Services  Committee, Senator Abdullahi Gobir and the Director of Information and Publications, Mr. Ishaku Dibal have confirmed to the Senate President that the delay in the payment was due to the non-release of the fund by the Finance Ministry, assuring that payments would  commence as soon as the money is made available.

Senate President, 9 Senators Host Patoranking

Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday said that the National Assembly is not for Managing Directors and heads of big corporations alone but for all Nigerians irrespective of their status in life.

Bukola Saraki and Patoranking

Saraki who stated this when ace musician/artiste, Mr. Patrick Nnaemeka Okorie, alias Patoranking, visited him at the National Assembly also expressed satisfaction in the works of Nigerian artistes and urged them to remain good ambassadors of the country.

Saraki pledged the support of the legislature to help Nigerian artistes boost their performance and to inspire upcoming artistes and the younger generation.

Saraki said: “It is a great pleasure also for us spending this time with you and let you appreciate that we recognize the good things that you are doing. I want to let you know that this National Assembly is not only for Managing Directors of big parastatals, we are here for all Nigerians.

“We want to encourage you to be a good ambassador not only for the youths but the entire country at this moment in time. We believe the best is in this country because we have a lot of talents out there and that it is our responsibility to get all that talent out – those who are already doing well, to get them to do better and place Nigeria as No. 1 in everything that we are do.

Bukola Saraki, Patoranking and other senators

“A lot of us are proud of what you guys are doing in the entertainment, music and the film industry. You have already put this country out there. I was saying to my own kids that in our time, all we listened to were foreign music, now they don’t even listen to foreign music, they listen more to Nigerian music.

“I mean, that is a great transformation and we must commend your generation for the fantastic work you guys are doing to change this country. You have changed Nigeria for good and I think this is what we should all be proud of.

“On our part, we will continue to support, in our own way, to encourage, promote and give you recognition so that many people watching you and those coming behind you will be inspired,” Saraki said.

Bukola Saraki, Patoranking and other senators1

Earlier, Patoranking appreciated Saraki and the leadership of the Senate for the warm reception and said he was proud of the opportunity which is one of the ways of bridging the gap between Nigerian leaders and the youths.

He said: “This is actually the biggest thing that has ever happened to my career. I am going to take my time to say this like an award speech. This is actually big and I know my colleagues out there will be proud of this moment. There is nothing as important as bridging gaps between our leaders and we the youths.”