By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Members of the 8th Senate have agreed to put aside their differences and work in harmony for the progress of Nigeria, former Majority Leader, Sen. Ali Ndume, (APC-Borno South), has said.
Ndume spoke with State House correspondents after leading the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate for Taraba, Sani Danladi, to a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday at the Presidential Villa.
He said that Nigerians had been supportive of the National Assembly and expected so much from it but regretted that leadership crisis made the 8th Senate to perform below the expectations of Nigerians.
“The legislative arm which is supposed to be interdependent was more or less independent and extensively antagonistic; and to some extent, you can say the leadership has been sabotaging the activities of the executive instead of cooperating with the executive to deliver the services Nigerians are expecting from us.
“I am accusing specifically, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, not the leadership so to say; as I have said several times, we elected the Senate leader who turned out to be Senators’ President.
“We have a leftover time of six months and we have agreed on cease fire including the Senate President himself; that we put the interest of Nigerians first.
“That was why when we resumed, we have been able to pass certain outstanding bills and we have agreed to work together; the interest of the nation first before party’s interest or any other individual’s interest.
“ Any breach in that agreement that we have, will also send us back to our trenches.’’
On the 2019 budget proposal, Ndume said that timely passage of the budget was important as it was one of the agreements the senators had.
According to him, the budget belongs to Nigerians and Nigerians are expecting that the budget be passed as quickly as possible so that the content of the budget will be delivered to Nigerians.
He said that anybody that tried to stand on the way of the budget would be seen as a saboteur to Nigerians.
Ndume said that APC senators were fully in support of the budget because they had input in it.
“It is a budget of continuity; it is a realistic budget.
“So we are not expecting any hiccup but as usual, the normal dragging will continue but we will resist it and make sure that we are sent to the National Assembly, that is to work for Nigerians comes first before any other interest.’’
On the hue and cry over the appointment of Amina Zakari as head of its collation centre for the forthcoming presidential election, Ndume, said that her relationship with Buhari had nothing to do with her assigned role.
He chided the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) saying the party had resorted to what he described as CCC.
“PDP is now is concentrating on what I call the CCC instead of doing what is the right thing.
`They are concentrating on complaining, criticising and contradicting themselves instead of campaigning.
“We in the APC; we said it initially and we even have a manual of campaign and that is to discuss issues, ideals, integrity and things that will move this country forward but as usual is the main opponent now; that is what makes it easy for APC.
“PDP ruled this country for 16 years; instead of giving Nigerians democracy; they were practicing Kleptocracy; and after Nigerians tasted three years of democracy now, they are struggling to take us back to the period of their kleptocractic governance and Nigerians will not accept that.
“This election is going to be the choice of Nigerians; to choose either to go back to the government of Kleptocracy or continue with government of democracy,’’ he said.
He told the correspondents that he had been appointed the Director-General, Campaign, in the Presidential Campaign Council of the APC for the North-East.
The senator said that with the candidacy of Danladi, a tasted and trusted candidate, APC would reclaim Taraba.
He also expressed optimism that APC would also reclaim Gombe State in 2019 as the party accidentally lost the two states in the North-East in 2015.