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My case against Saraki – Sen Marafa

Despite your observations and reservations on the composition of the Senate special and standing committees, the Senate president has gone ahead and distributed them. What…

Despite your observations and reservations on the composition of the Senate special and standing committees, the Senate president has gone ahead and distributed them. What is your next line of action?
Let us put this record straight, I’m not doing what I’m doing because it is Senator Bukola Saraki that is presiding over the Senate. Any time I stand on the floor of the Senate to talk, I always give reasons upon which I’m talking and I always cite the Senate Orders or the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. And I will always abide by them.
As far as I’m concerned, and the people that share my view, these standing and special committees are null and void. Just as Section 3(1) of the 1999 Constitution spells out the number of states that we have in Nigeria, nobody can increase the states without recourse to the constitution or the National Assembly and the state Houses of Assembly. Therefore, nobody can reduce the Senate to a mere rubber stamp.
Our rules didn’t envisage either feed forward system or backward integration. What our rules say is amend the rules and then you go by it. Order 110 of the Senate Orders clearly spells out how our rules can be amended. For now, even the Senate Rules we are using are being challenged in court but we have to go by it, because the court has not taken decision on it.
Whether you like Saraki’s face or not, he is the Senate President now and the fact is, we have to respect him and we have to take him as the Senate President. Otherwise, it would degenerate into lawlessness and that will not be good for all.
So, he is the Senate President and he said it is the Senate Standing Orders 2015 that we should be using. And going by it, orders 97 (1-57) clearly spell out the number of committees the Senate should have and nobody can raise it to 65. I don’t care, they can go ahead to inaugurate the committees they have added, all I know is that it is unconstitutional.
I have supported my observations with relevant sections of our standing orders and the constitution of the country. If somebody wants to counter me, it is not about me as a person, it is about Nigerians; it is about our rules and it is about the country’s constitution. Supposing today somebody forges the constitution of the country, what are the likely consequences? Supposing today, somebody decides not to respect the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, what would be the likely consequences? If today we have a president that feels he is too powerful and decides not to go by the constitution, what would be the consequences? People will start shouting. Today, people are flouting the constitution and the laws and they are abusing the collective sensibilities of Nigerians by proffering useless and unreasonable explanations. You cannot say the approval of the votes and proceedings amount to the approval by resolution for which the laws provide in Senate Order 100.
The law clearly states that you make the committees in consultation with the Selection Committee, subject to the approval of the Senate. They didn’t do this, and they don’t want us to ask questions.
I will talk because the approval of the votes and proceedings is not the approval of the committees. I will continue to talk, you can rule me out of order, you can do whatever you want to do, it is there for posterity to judge.
One of your colleagues in the person of Senator Mallam Ali Wakili engaged you in a war of words and tagged you as a storm in the Senate teacup. It is as if you are alone in this fight?
I don’t care, that is the beauty of democracy. Ali Wakili, he is a friend to my uncle but I told him when we were conversing that he is a beneficiary of this mess we are fighting, may be that is why he is talking that way. I don’t care if it is to be about my own interest, it has been taken care of. They made me chairman of a committee and vice chairman of another committee, what else can they give me?
But it is not about what I get, it is about doing what is right; it is about bequeathing to our children a good legacy. Let them know that for them to get something, they must follow the rules and constitutional provisions. They have to learn to play the game by the rules.
The rules of ranking were thoroughly abused and this led to the emergence of so many junior senators against their senior colleagues. So, you will not be surprised if you see them fighting you for challenging the wrong doers. They don’t want us to challenge the wrong because it is working in their favour. I hope that one day, when it is working against them, they will also have the courage to say ‘no problem, we had it good yesterday’.
Some see this ‘ fight’ of yours as a continuation of the struggle for the Senate presidency between your camp (Unity Forum) and the Saraki camp (Like Minds)…?
Look at the message and not the messenger. Look at what I’m saying; am I just making noise? If what I’m saying are facts, then the message is good. I will continue to provoke them to do the right thing because they are the beneficiaries. Today, Saraki is the Senate President, first among equals because we were all voted as senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria – 109 of us.
Saraki did not become the Senate president because he is the most educated; not because he is the richest, not because he is the most experienced or the strongest, no. By whatever means he got there, at least they have to use our Senate rules’ book. It is this very book he used to get to where he is now that he is abusing. I’m telling him to come back to it so that people will respect him. If you hear people shouting `point of order ‘ this is the book, they are referring to. So, if you are not ready to respect it, we should all close shop and go away.
Justice should not be selective, forget about Marafa or where I come from, just concentrate on what I’m saying. I cited Section 60 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that gives the Senate the powers to regulate its proceedings; I cited 62(1) that gives the National Assembly the powers to form committees and delegate responsibilities to it; I cited Section 62 (4) that says nothing should be construed that the National Assembly can delegate that power to determine by resolution to delegate it. So, we have to vote, not even the committee of a whole, we have to vote. And I have equally cited relevant rules of our standing orders. So, it is not about me but the country’s constitution and the Senate rules.

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