CHUKWU DAVID reports on how the majority and minority caucuses in the National Assembly, recently disagreed on the state of the nation under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari
The minority caucus of the National Assembly and its majority counterpart in the Senate, traded tackles last week over the way and manner the All Progressives Congress (APC)- led Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari has been carrying on with governance, particularly in the face of the growing insecurity across all states of the federation. While the minority caucus of the nation’s apex legislative institution berated President Buhari, for what it described as his ineptitude in managing the affairs of the country, the APC Caucus countered their colleagues, saying that the President is doing well with governance.
The minority caucus, had on Tuesday last week, at a press conference, cautioned President Buhari on his alleged constitutional breaches since his re-election in 2019. The caucus threatened that it would invoke the constitutional at the appropriate time to address the development, so as to salvage the country from total collapse.
It further urged the President to sack the Minister of Communications, Isa Pantami, saying that Nigerians have lost confidence in him as a result of his alleged sympathy for terrorist groups in the past. In his address on behalf of the caucus, the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, said that the Minority Caucus of the National Assembly was concerned about the ineptitude and the inability of the Buhari-led administration to arrest the country’s drift to anarchy.
The caucus lamented that in spite of the promises made by the APC before and after it was enthroned to power to tackle the problem of insecurity in the country, the nation’s security situation had rather deteriorated under the watch of President Buhari. Part of the positions taken by the caucus include: “This APC-led government, at inception and during campaigns prior to the 2015 elections, made promises to the Nigerian public, the first of which was that they were going to deal with security challenges within their tenure. “Sadly and most unfortunately, from 2015 to date, rather than resolving the security situation, the APC-led Federal Government had rather broaden the security challenges. So, from the problems of the North-East, it has spread to other parts of the country. Virtually all parts of Nigeria are now beset with one security challenge or the other.”
The Minority Caucus further expressed concerns that President Buhari had been quiet in spite of killings going on across the country on a daily basis as if human life does not matter to him and members of his team. “The caucus has also taken note of the fact that the President is absent from duty. We have not seen our President.
We have not heard from our President despite the daily killings that have turned Nigeria into a killing field of unimaginable proportions. “Therefore, the caucus has taken note and will continue to take note of the constitutional breaches that is happening at this time by the government of the APC and will at the appropriate time utilize all constitutional methods and measures available after consultations with our colleagues to do the needful to safe the country from collapse.”
Abaribe said. However, barely 24 hours after the minority caucus raised these concerns, the APC Senate Caucus, in a counter reaction, accused their opposition colleagues of playing politics with the lives of Nigerians. It also insisted that President Buhari is in charge of the government of the day as well as discharging his duties conscientiously and patriotically, contrary to the allegation that he is absent from his duties.
The caucus further expressed surprise that the opposition legislators could come up with such hard criticisms against President Buhari and the ruling party in spite of the cordial relationship between majority and minority lawmakers in the Red Chamber. Chairman of the caucus and Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, said while the APC senators understood the role of the opposition in any democracy, the current situation in the country require men of good conscience and patriotism to act as leaders and statesmen rather than play politics with the lives of the citizens.
His words: “We in the APC Caucus totally reject the many incorrect statements contained in the said press release. Indeed, we are quite aware of the role of the opposition in any democracy. However, the statement by the PDP Caucus has gone too far given the good working relationship in the 9th Assembly and especially with the Minority Caucus.
“In any democracy, the right to present criticisms and concerns on the state of the nation’s affairs are unassailable. However, while we respect such rights; which come with obligation and responsibility, we are concerned that the statement issued by the minority caucus is capable of over-heating an already charged polity in which men of good conscience and patriotism are expected to act as leaders and statesmen.
“While we acknowledge the natural disposition of playing politics, we are worried and disturbed that our colleagues are playing with lives. The unfortunate state of insecurity; for which the Senate has continuously debated and issued resolutions to support the actions of the executive under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari in the overriding interest of the public is too delicate to play with. “We reject and dissociate ourselves from all and any inflammatory statements that appear to threaten the authority of Mr. President and our party.
We accordingly, wish to remind them that blame game and threats of ‘constitutional measures’ are unwelcome and will not help in any form to address the challenges the nation currently faces.” The Senate leader also decried the assertion in some quarters that President Buhari has not been seen to be efficiently manning the affairs of the country. He described the assertion as false and cheap politics as according to him, the President and service chiefs are busy every day and every night in deliberations on how to address the security challenges across the country.
He added that the President has not always spoken all major security issues, but continued to reassure Nigerians and indeed the international community that he will continue to do his best in making sure that the security challenges are tackled head-on. Senator Abdullahi assured Nigerians that President Buhari is in charge of government and discharging his duties conscientiously and patriotically. He, therefore, called on the minority caucus and all Nigerians to join hands with government to proffer solutions to the security challenges.
He said: “We take exception to the unfortunate charge that our President has not been seen. This is false and cheap politics. Mr. President and service chiefs are meticulously busy every day and every night in deliberations with a view to addressing the security challenges across the entire country. “Similarly, Mr. President had always made statement to Nigerians on all major security incidences and assuring Nigerians and indeed the international community that he would continue to do his best in making sure that the security challenges are tackled head-on.
We want to assure Nigerians that Mr. President is in charge of government and is discharging his duties conscientiously and patriotically. “It is a well-known fact that the Federal Government under the PDP refused to invest in the security infrastructure of the country, while Mr. President under the APC-led government has massively invested in this regard more than any past government and we are confident that the nation will surmount its current security challenges. “Furthermore, it must be noted that the global economy is in turmoil triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and Nigeria is not an exception.
The Federal Government is aware of the challenges and is working to massively get the economy working for Nigerians through agricultural intervention projects, infrastructure development projects and social interventions to reduce the pains of the economic downturn on ordinary Nigerians. “The APC Caucus strongly and unreservedly supports the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari as we continue to work in addressing the economic, health, social, security and other challenges that beset our nation. We sincerely seek the continuous support and understanding of all Nigerians in this regard.”
While there is no doubt that the claims and counter-claims is expected, it is instructive to note that these divergent perceptions and positions taken by the respective caucuses of the ruling and the opposition parties on the state of the nation under President Buhari have dominated national discourse in recent time.