A former President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and an ex-governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa, have faulted the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai on his claims that Saraki frustrated the restructuring plan of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and that the party and its presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, have already won the 2023 elections.
El-Rufai had claimed that he and his party prepared a report on restructuring and engaged with the National Assembly leadership to amend the Constitution in 2018.
He had further claimed that Saraki, as the President of the Senate between 2015 and 2019, frustrated the restructuring plan.
In a separate interview on BBC Hausa, El-Rufai had accused the northern elders of working against a power shift to the South and described the elders as mere paperweights who cannot swing votes in anyone’s favour.
While insisting that the 19 northern governors were the real elders of the North, El-Rufai declared that even with what he called “all these sabotage and conspiracies,” the APC has already won “this coming 2023 election.”
But reacting to the allegation against him, Saraki, who described the Kaduna State governor as a pathological liar, alleged that the APC, El-Rufai, and other state governors frustrated the effort of the eighth National Assembly to restructure Nigeria.
In a statement issued on Saturday in Abuja by the Head of his Media Office, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, the former Senate President, gave the details of how the National Assembly attempted to restructure Nigeria comprehensively.
Saraki stated that under his leadership, the National Assembly commenced the constitution amendment process in February 2016 by setting up committees in both chambers.
He, therefore, noted that El-Rufai’s statement “is not only false but also indicative of how the governor of Kaduna State is fond of making excuses and trading blames to explain his failure and that of his party.”
He explained: “El-Rufai claimed he and his party prepared a report on restructuring and engaged with the National Assembly leadership to amend the Constitution in 2018 when as of February 2016, more than two years earlier, the eighth National Assembly had commenced the constitution amendment process by setting up committees in both chambers.
“Members of the committees traversed the entire country and came up with reports and draft bills. By 2018, as El Rufai mentioned, Buhari had commenced assent to constitutional amendment bills.
“Out of the 32 Constitution Bills considered by the National Assembly, 24 secured the required number of votes on the floors of both chambers. Also, when the 24 were sent to the state Houses of Assembly, only 12 bills got the required votes.”
The former Senate president alleged that this same El-Rufai was one of the governors that frustrated the passage of most of the bills by the State Houses of Assembly.
According to Saraki, even after the state Houses of Assembly concluded their proceedings, the President only assented to five of the 12 bills submitted to him in 2018 and refused to sign seven others.
He asked the governor of Kaduna State to explain how his state has implemented important restructuring bills passed by the eighth National Assembly headed by Saraki that had been signed into law, like the Financial Autonomy for State Legislature and Judiciary Act.
Saraki further observed: “If the APC was elected into power in 2015 and El-Rufai and his cohorts were talking about amending the Constitution to implement restructuring three years later when the government had less than a year to the end of its tenure, the restructuring agenda must be an after-thought or a less important one on the hierarchy of issues on the APC’s plate.
“It should also be noted that it has been a clear 44 months since Saraki left office as Senate President. Within that period, El- Rufai and his party have the Senate President they want and the type of Senate they want, yet they have not done anything to restructure Nigeria.
“We have not seen the so-called ‘excellent’ report of his committee being translated into bills and assented to by the President. He even claimed his committee drafted restructuring bills,” Saraki explained.
“El-Rufai should tell Nigerians if Saraki is also the one that is responsible for the high level of insecurity, which has escalated from just the North-east to a menace that has now engulfed the whole of Nigeria under the APC administration,” he added.
Meanwhile, a former Sokoto State governor and chieftain of the PDP, Bafarawa, has told El-Rufai that he can’t impose Tinubu on the North.
“He (El-Rufai) insisted that Tinubu must win the election; whether people like it or not, they have already won. Who told him that the whole of the North supported the APC?
“This is just his opinion in that case; he has no right to insist on the North because everybody has his candidate.
“The way he is campaigning for Tinubu, that is how we are campaigning for our candidate,” Bafarawa said.
Bafarawa insisted that an individual does not have the power to impose his candidate on other people, saying, “we will shock them; we will make them understand that this country belongs to nobody, likewise the North.”
“He (El-Rufai) is talking about being 63; doesn’t he see that elders are still left in the North? We see that these comments are lacking in responsibility,” he said.
Bafarawa said El-Rufai’s comment was an insult to the North.
“His comments lack courtesy; what is expected of him are comments that can lead to the development of the North and the country at large.
“El-Rufai talked about contesting for elections and winning; if this is what he referred to as being responsible, we have contested and won before him,” he added.