When the 8th Senate was inaugurated in June 2015, the emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki as the President against the dictates of the leadership of the All Progressive Congress (APC) immediately threw the Upper Chamber into a major crisis. His antagonists formed the Unity Group to fight him while his friends queued behind him under the banner “Like Minds”. Senator Kabiru Marafa of the APC played a prominent role as one of the leaders of the Unity Group. Lately however, he has been quiet and performing his legislative duties since the war of attrition came to an end. His silence has been attributed to getting appointed to chair a “juicy Committee”(Petroleum (Downstream) by Senator Saraki. But in this interview with select journalists, Senator Marafa cleared the matter and spoke on other topical issues. OBIORA IFOH brings the excerpts:
How would you react to been called ‘an enemy within’ by the Coalition of Northern Youths for allegedly supporting Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe on an alleged motion , to make the Senate President, Bukola Saraki an Acting President on July 4th when Professor Yemi Osinbajo travelled out of the country?.
It is an unfortunate development within the politics of North West in particular. I would have discontenanced the publication as just a mere rubbish for two or three reasons. One is that either the writers are envious people or they are ignorant; another reason is that I am a frontal fighter, all my life I have never believed in hypocrisy or chasing shadows. Looking at this publication, I believe that whoever this coalition of northern youths are, they are not my mates, and they are not the writers of this garbage, so it is definitely sponsored by one or two different groups. One of the groups is either the enemies of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, whose interest is anybody that will be fighting the Senate President. So when Marafa was fighting the cause of APC, I was their friend, and the sin of Marafa now, is why has he stopped fighting their enemy? Another of the two groups is the one being most likely sponsored by politicians from Zamfara state, whom I have dominated and now they feel they should fight me from Diaspora, I mean outside Zamfara state because this is a Coalition of Northern Youths organization, and for that the only thing I will say is tell your politician or pay masters that the battle ground is Zamfara and not the pages of newspapers or the Senate. I am not a white collar politician, I am a frontal fighter; they know who I am, let us meet at the battle ground in Zamfara. I am a responsible lawmaker who has been responsible to his people throughout my six years in the senate. So, having said this, this body calls themselves a coalition of northern youth organization, so the word youth here tells me that whoever they are, they are my younger brothers or my children , so I am older than them. I have a responsibility to educate them as my younger ones or my children, if they are ignorant, so that they will understand the import of what they are saying. If they are envious, I will advise them as Muslims or Christians, our two religions say that envy is a disease, and I don’t think it will take them anywhere. Let me start by educating them; like I said, whoever the writers and sponsors of this garbage are, they are completely ignorant.
I will start by educating them that there was never any motion on the floor of the Senate to make anybody an acting President. I will say two things to enlighten them, and one is that we are enlightened politicians and there is nowhere in our constitution or in our rule book that says that acting President can be nominated by the National Assembly. So nobody will even undertake that journey because it will be a futile attempt, you can’t do it. What happened that day was that Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe was given a chance to contribute to a debate on whether the Senate should accept the letter from the Acting President seeking the Senate to confirm a nominee as the Executive Secretary or Director- General of National Lottery Commission.
That was the topic of discussion and Senator Abaribe of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP from Abia, was given a chance to contribute and in his contribution, he accused our government; I am APC blood and soul, that the problem is that there is vacuum of leadership in Nigeria, that there is no leadership, and that to all of us was an insult on our government, and I rose to defend my government and I shouted point of order. And the Senate President, who is also an APC member felt the same way and he gave me the chance to read my point of order. I raised order 53(4), which says “a senator must confine his observation to subject of discussion and may not introduce matters irrelevant there to”, this is the rule 53(4), so that clearly tells you that when Abaribe introduced matters irrelevant to the subject of discussion and the Senate President ruled that I was right and he made a comment that Abaribe, you have to confine your observation to the subject of discussion and you should not introduce anything extraneous, and on that note he ruled him out of order. Number two, you can see their ignorance; they said Senator Marafa, alongside a group in the Senate called Like Minds, Like Minds are the group that supported Senator Saraki to become the Senate President, but I do not belong to that group, rather, I belong to the Unity Forum, which is a group that supported Ahmed Lawan, so next time if they are addressing me they should use the right reference. Number three, they said I seconded a motion raised by Abaribe, but there was no motion raised by Abaribe.
Abaribe did not raise any motion, as an experienced Senator Abaribe was a former Deputy Governor and a three term senator, and he knows you cannot bring a motion to make somebody an Acting President on the floor of the Senate. Presidency is one body and it is the President that Nigerians elected and gave him powers and it is only the President that can appoint Acting President, no other body, so if they don’t know I am educating them for future references. Even a new comer that is just coming into the Senate as a senator, the first day you are given the Senate Rule Book and the Constitution that is what the Bureaucrats here and the Senate President give to you. So you cannot appoint anybody as Acting President, the Senate has no business whatsoever in appointing anybody as acting President, it is the President that does so, and he only writes the National Assembly for notice, not for even our approval or debate, it is not subject to any debate, I am travelling for so, so period or time, and in my absence I am appointing so and so person as the Acting President so he exercises our executive powers. So, I want them to know that. They also said where was Marafa during the imbroglio of late former President Umaru Yar’Adua?. They don’t even know when I came to the Senate. When late Yar’Adua, may his soul rest in peace, was President, I was doing my business in my village or town or wherever, I was pursuing my legitimate business, and I had no responsibility then to partake in any imbroglio. Now, for what they don’t know, President Muhammadu Buhari, as a law abiding citizen and as a student of history, maybe, having seen what happened during his younger brother, late Umar Yar’Adua’s time, he has been very careful on how he goes for his own medical attention abroad now. He has never traveled out of this country for any reason without transmitting powers to the Vice President as Acting President. So, this issue is immaterial and if I were around during the time of Umaru Yar’Adua, I would have spoken the truth, but I was not there.
What do you think may be the motive of your accusers since there was no any motion on that day to which you allegedly seconded?
To show you that there is an element of envy in the publication, they said there is no vacuum in the Presidency and that even if a vacuum exists, Marafa and others will not succeed in bringing in anybody from the Senate since the Acting President, Professor Osinbajo is already on ground. There was never a motion, Abaribe only made a comment and I countered his comment, and all my APC senators supported me and that is exactly what happened. Lastly, they said what baffles them is my inability to equip myself with the knowledge of the constitution, but please tell them that it is them that are ignorant of the constitution as evident in this their advertorial. I want to call on these young men to know who Senator Marafa is. I did all I did on the floor of the Senate because of APC and not because of any other person and I am an unrepentant supporter of President Buhari and the APC government, and the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, and I will fight anybody that will fight this government.
That is exactly what I did that day, against all odds, against whatever anybody will say, I defended my government. But for the avoidance of any doubt, if the sponsors of the advert are the enemies of the Senate President, they should go and face him, they know him, he is a fighter and he can fight his wars. But if they are my own enemies from my own state, please they should know that the Senate or pages of newspapers is not the battle ground, the battle ground is Zamfara and they know who I am in the state; I can face them. For the avoidance of any doubt, there was no such motion, there was no coup, there was only a move by an opposition senator to tarnish the image of our government and there was a counter move by the majority party senators; the APC, headed by me, to defend the APC government and President Buhari, and we defended it and the Senate President acknowledged it, applauded it and commended our efforts at defending our party and that is what we did.
What about their allegation that you are no longer a fire brand in the senate against its leadership since you have been given a very juicy chairmanship position of one of the Senate’s standing Committees?
I did not fight Bukola Saraki because he is Saraki, I fought him because my party said I should fight and when my party said I should stop, I stopped. The decision to end all these hostilities and bring the two sides together was taken by APC and President Buhari himself. It was not me or anybody. The party said my children come together, this one has won the Senate President, you this side give them the Senate Leader and Deputy Senate Leader, and it was done; was that not what happened? Now you have formed committees, give them some committees, is that not what happened? I don’t know why Nigerians forget things easily. It was the party and President Buhari that intervened. So the assertion that I was given a juicy committee to stop fighting the Senate President is rubbish, am I not entitled to committee headship? I am even more qualified to head committees by our rules, I am a ranking senator, I was the vice chairman of the Petroleum Upstream Committee in the 7th Senate for four years, it is my turn to become the chairman now. It is only about 30 senators that made it back to the Senate in the 8th Assembly and I am one of them. So by the Senate Rules, I am entitled to any committee, I am not saying my colleagues are not qualified, but by the Standing Rules, I am qualified to head any committee. So I fought because my party said this is the direction and when the party said stop, I stopped. A letter was written by the party saying give Unity Forum this and that, and that was how Ahmed Lawan became the Senate Leader, and that was how my own committee was changed and besides, do people want me to remain irrelevant in the Senate because I am defending APC?
Do you have any advice for these youths from the North who by your submission and available records, acted ignorantly against you?
For this unguided young men, I advise them to go back to school and learn the ropes. Let them know how these things are done, they should not use the name of anybody under the guise of coalition northern youths organization. Northern youths don’t behave this way, this is against our religion, it is against our culture, to impute wrong and perhaps wicked meanings into what somebody has said. In fact, this one is a deliberate act of twisting. So if they are Muslims or Christians, they should go back and repent to their God because they have offended God not Marafa. I did not say what they said, I said because at 56 years now, I have reached the age of responsibility and I can stand and defend whatever I say. The day I will say something and not be ready to defend whatever I’ve said, may I not live to witness such a day. At my age now, I will stand up and defend whatever I say. . At my age now, I will stand up and defend whatever I say anywhere.
Makarfi’s victory: What PDP must do to wrestle power from APC in 2019 —- Hon. Olorunrinu
HONOURABLE Dipo Olorunrinu is the only remaining Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) member out of the eight that emerged as opposition legislators in 2015 general election in the Lagos State House of Assembly. His other seven colleagues have defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC. In this interview with our correspondent, IBRAHIM KADIRI, the lawmaker who is representing Amuwo-Odofin Constituency I, though not rule out the possibility of jumping the boat, gives insight into how the PDP can wrestle power from the
APC come 2019. Excerpts:
When you got to the Lagos State House of Assembly, there were eight members of the PDP, now you are the only member of the party in the Assembly, are you comfortable to be the last man standing?
I want to appreciate all the past leaders of the Lagos State House of Assembly up to the present leadership. My coming to the House was made possible by the people and same goes for everybody. We have always been members of the opposition in the Assembly whether we are eight, seven or one. Minority is minority. So whether it has reduced from eight to one has not changed anything personally for me. I represent the people that voted me here.
Did you expect that things would ever get to this level?
We all have different reasons for coming to the Assembly and we all have why we do what we do. For me, my people have not told me to decamp to the APC.
Your people expect you to protect their interest as a lawmaker, but now that you are the last man standing, how do you hope to do this?
Let me tell you this, the people in Nigeria are expectant and same goes for my people. The Lagos State House of Assembly is not a place where you come to play party politics. As far as I am concerned, I do not see why I would not perform my duties. The Lagos State executive and legislative arms of government have always performed their normal duties. I am not in the Assembly to play party politics, but to ensure that the dividends of democracy get to my people. When you begin to talk about my party, I have not seen any kind of discrimination that would affect my people. I have been given the privilege to serve. When my people tell me to change I would change. I am not saying I am all in all, I just remember where I am coming from. I have been given that privilege to serve among the youths.
Are you saying you have never experienced disappointment from the leadership of the House over your demands despite your stance?
I need to let you know that I am only two years old in the system and two years of going through some rigorous parts in my own party and understanding what is mine and what is not mine even in my ward as well as understanding what the people want. For me, I have not seen anything being taken away from me, I might not be a committee chairman and my office might not be in the main building with others. I don’t see here as a place, where I am being relegated. That I am not a committee chairman does not reduce my package, and this has not stopped me from being a member of committees. I have only been given an opportunity to learn better, but I have not seen this as being relegated.
You are very intelligent and charismatic, but you are always calm and quiet on the floor of the House. Does this mean that you are not comfortable with what is going on there?
My quietness on the floor of the Assembly does not mean I don’t have anything to say. Like I said, I am still learning. Why should I repeat what people have said? However, I speak, when I need to speak. You don’t just speak for speaking sake. Also, no matter how knowledgeable you are, experience is crucial. You said I am intelligent, but wisdom is key. You might be right that I am not comfortable with some things.
How do you feel with the latest development in your party and what should be the focus of the Senator Ahmed Makarfi- led leadership of the party?
Let me congratulate the PDP on the latest Supreme Court judgment. Opposition in Nigeria today should be seen as putting the people on their toes and checkmating the ruling party. The people in the party are agitating for change. I am one of the elected officials in Lagos State that support Senator Ahmed Makarfi, while others support Senator Ali Modu Sheriff. But, I give God the glory, Nigeria is approaching that change.
The leadership of the party should look at the constitution of the party and make it more friendly and stricter. Party politics should have a measure of respect regardless of who you are. You should not create a form of un-constituted situation in the party. We are public servants. The constitution of the party should be amended.
What is the situation with the various groups of the party in the state?
You see, the Chairman of the Ali Modu Sheriff camp of the party, Mr. Segun Adewale is a goal- getter. I am in the group of Senator Ahmed Makarfi, but I once met with the faction of Sheriff and even met Sheriff. For me, he is a political leader so also Segun Adewale. I am also a political leader though I am younger. What happened in Osun State can happen in Lagos State. I have met Segun Adewale personally. I believe we can come together. He is loyal to the PDP. All that he wants is a united PDP. Also, the Chairman of the party in the state now based on the judgment of the Supreme Court, Mr. Moshood Salvador, wants a united PDP. These people have people behind them that I pray they could control. There are people that are causing crisis in the party. Prior to the court judgment, I wanted a soft landing for the two factions then. When I met Sheriff then, I told him I am for Makarfi. They know soldiers with uniform.
Where does Chief Olabode George belongs in all of these?
He has always been a father regardless of what he said about the party. His time has been good for the party; six House of Representatives members and eight House of Assembly members came in during his time. A little drop of water makes a mighty ocean.
Are you saying that you would never cross to the APC?
I cannot say that, but like I said, I am not a party fanatic. Everybody chases his interest. I chase the interest of my people.
How close are you to your colleagues in the House, especially former members of the PDP, who have now crossed to the APC?
Close is a relative word, I can say I am close to you whereas you feel you are not close to me. My business here is to do my work and leave the rest for God. I am a determined, dogged and principled young man.
Adebayo Faleti, a rare gem – Gbenga Daniel.
Former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel has expressed shock on the passing of veteran actor, Chef Adebayo Faleti who he described as a rare gem; an uncommon individual.
In his condolence message, Otunba Daniel stated that late Chief Faleti was a man of many parts who equally excelled in his career as a poet, journalists, writer, translator, broadcaster and TV exponent.
According to Daniel, late Chief Adebayo Faleti’s had always been in the forefront for the promotion of Yoruba culture and tradition. “His undying passion for the development and uplift of Yoruba values could only be described in the superlatives. He was a celebrated artist and an astute administrator”.
“Late Chief Adebayo’ s death was a great loss to the nation particularly the entire Yorubaland but his life and works will continue to be reference points in our national history”, according to a statement issued by his media aide, Ayo Giwa.
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