Tempers flared once again at the Senate on Wednesday as senators questioned the commitment of the executive arm of government to protect lives and property of Nigerians.
Senators across party lines, who spoke on a motion bordering on insecurity in Taraba State, moved by Senator Emmanuel Bwatcha pointedly accused President Muhammadu Buhari of not doing enough to protect Nigerians against marauders who are killing them in numbers.
Bwatcha in his motion noted that quite a large number of people from the state have been killed by Fulani herdsmen while hundreds have been displaced.
He sought help for the displaced persons while urging the government to do more in protecting the people.
The issue became contentious when Senator Isa Misau in his contribution to the debate openly accused President Buhari of appointing incompetent people into his cabinet while the business of government suffered without the president doing anything tangible to save the situation.
Misau is a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
While he poured his anger on the government, Senate President Bukola Saraki, who presided over the plenary, did not cut him short, but gave him ample time to express himself while other members listened with rapt attention.
Taking the Buhari government to the cleaners, Misua noted that the government is exhibiting double standard in its anti-corruption war, noting that the appointment of the Director General of the Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Abubakar, was tainted with nepotism.
According to him, Abubakar does not qualify to be NIA boss because he had failed promotion examination twice and had because of that exited the service to save his face.
“Today, the DG NIA that was just appointed, is he qualified to be there? He’s not qualified. This is the person that failed two exams, we know. He failed two exams and just because he is close to people taking decisions, he was appointed”, he lamented.
Abubakar before his new appointment was the Senior Special Assistant to the President (SSAP) on Foreign Affairs/International Relations.
Misau also noted that there are so many incompetent persons working in the cabinet of Buhari, saying less than 50 percent of those in Buhari government are deserving of their appointments.
He noted that the people in the cabinet “take decisions anyhow” and asked Buhari to sack his cabinet if he wishes to succeed in his administration.
“So many incompetent people are holding so many positions. Fifty percent of the ministers are not performing. Since the president assumed office he has not taken any decision to move this country (forward). Today, we are seeing it and everybody is avoiding it, nobody wants to say anything.
“So many appointments in this government are not on merit. Some people have taken over the government as if they are even above the president. They take decisions anyhow.
“We say we are fighting corruption, Babachir that the Senate committee indicted, and the vice-president’s committee indicted him too. Today, they are pursuing other people, why can’t they take Babachir (Lawal) to court and all of us are here keeping quiet.
“People who have not done anything are always in court. This is the man that squandered money meant for IDPs and he is still visiting Villa every day”, he said.
He also described the Attorney-General of the Federation as a misnomer in the cabinet.
“This Attorney-General is becoming a nuisance, going to court to stop Maina (probe) and we are still here. The IG came here with a lawyer that he is not going to answer any question from the Senate. After that he went to institute an order restraining Senate from investigating him”, he noted.
He described the Buhari government as too vindictive, saying it has been making efforts at getting the Senate President removed at all cost.
According to him, he was aware of a plot by the presidency through a serving minister to create problems for Saraki and get him removed because the Villa is afraid Saraki is about to jump out of the APC.
“When we were on holiday, so many people were going behind that they should try and remove the Senate president. And it was a minister that was spearheading that thing. What is the reason, they said that the Senate president would leave APC that they should create problems for him (Saraki). What kind of country is this? Everything is about religion, about tribe”, Misa lamented.
He maintained that the issue of security would not be properly tackled until the executive makes appointments based on merit.
He noted further that competent people must be appointed to the cabinet of the president, as well as the security agencies before the war against upheavals can be won.
“It is right time for us, let us know what to do. If it’s about talking here or holding conference, until we look at how the security system is. Who and who are holding sensitive positions? Are they competent? Were they appointed on merit?” Misa queried.
Senator Ben Bruce-Murray had earlier tore into the security apparatus of the nation, describing the heads of the security agencies are incompetent.
He advised the president to throw out the head of the agencies for allowing “foreigners” to invade Nigeria without check-mating them while they are now killing Nigerians at will.
But as soon as Misau was done, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, the former governor of Nasarawa State, rose to the defence of the president.
He noted that the words used on the president by those who spoke earlier were too harsh as he called for caution.
His position was, however, not popular as he was interjected by his colleagues, forcing him to keep shouting at the top of his voice, asking the Senate president to give him protection as he spoke.
“I will not accept, anybody coming here virtually calling the president by his name, calling operatives of government by their names and condemning them. It’s not right.
“Make your points within the laws. Comment that there is insecurity, nobody is saying you shouldn’t say so but you don’t say so in a way of inciting the public, it’s wrong”, he insisted.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives stated on Wednesday that President Muhammadu Buhari committed an impeachable offence for spending N300 billion on fuel subsidy in 2017 without appropriation.
The House at plenary also summoned Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum; Maikanti Baru, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), and Abdulkadir Saidu Umar, Executive Secretary of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).
They are required to explain the payment of subsidy on petrol without the National Assembly’s approval.
Some Nigerians reacted angrily when news broke recently that the Federal Government was still paying subsidy on oil imports despite its deregulation of the sector and rise in pump prices of fuel.
The minister and the NNPC boss are to appear before the joint House Committees on Finance and Petroleum (Downstream) to explain where they got authorisation to spend over N300 billion on subsidy payments in 2017.
On the other hand, Kachikwu, Baru, as well as the PPPRA boss are to face the joint committee to give account of the money expended on payments of subsidy from January 2017.
They are also to explain the cause of scarcity of the product.
The resolution followed the consideration and adoption of a motion under matters of urgent public importance moved by Karimi Sunday Steve (PDP, Kogi), urging the House to request the Federal Executive Council to make provision for subsidy payment in the 2018 Appropriation Bill if it was interested in continuing with the payment of subsidy on PMS.
Karimi, in his presentation, noted that between January and December 2017, the Federal Government, through the NNPC, claimed to have spent over N300 billion on payment of subsidy on PMS when there was no provision for subsidy payment in the 2017 Appropriation Act.
He noted that the payment, which was done without the approval of the parliament, was a breach of the constitution.
In his submission, Karimi argued that section 80(4) of the 1999 constitution, as amended, stipulates that “no money shall be withdrawn from the consolidated revenue fund, or any other public fund of the federation, without the approval of the National Assembly.”
He stressed that the payment of subsidy last year by the NNPC without the consent of the federal legislature, no matter the intent of the payment, was illegal and should be treated as such.
He, therefore, urged the House to probe the matter.
“It is an impeachable offence. We cannot keep quiet. The executive cannot decide which part of the constitution to obey and which to ignore,” Karimi argued.
Ahmed Pategi (APC, Kwara), in his contribution, said the presidency and the NNPC had agreed to keep on importing fuel to make it readily available in the country, no matter what.
He, however, said no matter the motive for the subsidy payment, the House should investigate the matter since the NNPC acted without recourse to parliament.
“In this case, it is the NNPC that is importing (fuel). Which means the NNPC is paying itself subsidy,” Pategi said.