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7 Things Saraki Wants Nigerians To Know

The Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, sat down with veteran journalist, Mahmud Jega for a no-holds-barred interview. These are seven major takeaways

?#1. On whether or not he thought that being Senate President would come with so many crises and conflicts…

Saraki said: “Well, some of these come with the job and with the kind of politics that we play. The most important thing is to always stay focused, and have an objective, have a goal, and be guided by that. And at every point to ask yourself what changes are you making to the lives of the people that voted for us? How are we improving their lives. That is my focus.”

#2. On whether or not the unnecessary distractions in the media are affecting his job as the Senate President…

Saraki said: “These issues are not affecting Senate’s productivity. And today, we are laying the PIB [Petroleum Industry Bill], which has never happened before. I am saying that some things will happen because of politics here and there, but it has not affected our productivity. I can understand if because of these issues, major bills are still waiting and we have not passed. Last year we preferred a way out of the economic problems. Three weeks ago, we moved a motion on the Senate floor that led to the biggest anti-corruption case, where we stand that there was theft of close to N140billion in petroleum produce and government agencies then moved in. It was not any anti-corruption agency that discovered it but the Senate, and we are happy that the DG SSS moved in and arrested the man. So, please, judge us by our results.”

#3. On whether the Senate injects politics into every issue…

Saraki said: “Let us serve Nigeria now and when 2019 comes, then you start again. But we cannot have politics all the time. When government wanted to increase electricity tariff, who intervened? It was the National Assembly. When government brought the request to borrow $31billion, people were saying ‘National Assembly refused to approve’ but it made government to look at a better approach with a proper breakdown, e.g. $1.5billion support for 2016 budget. It became much better when you can break it down and say this is for this and this is for that, instead of approving a total loan package without breakdowns. So, when we take positions like that, it is not against the government, we are all working for the same purpose.”

#4. On whether or not he [Saraki] is opposed to President Buhari…

Saraki said: “The people who are saying that this Senate President is against Buhari, I say to them, when President Buhari was away for two months and rumours were flying around everywhere as to the real situation, President Buhari received many guests [in London] but who was the person who came out and said, ‘President Buhari is fine and is coming back home?’ Tell me, who was it?

“Loyalty is not what people do in front of you. It is what they do behind your back. All this propaganda is just to cause a head-on collision and we know why they are doing it. When the time comes, we will tell you why they are doing it…”

#5. On why his name is involved in recent EFCC cases…

Saraki said: “I never had any problem with EFCC. The only time when I have problems with EFCC is when there is an issue that is political. When I got up in the Senate and raise the issue of the N1.3trillion fuel subsidy, I quickly got a letter from EFCC, that I should come. If truly there were any issues with my governorship, why didn’t I get invited within one month like some of my other colleaguees? In 2011, when I decided that I was going to contest for President, pram! I got an EFCC invitation. Anytime I get an invitation from EFCC, you can attach it to a political issues. At the end of the day, nothing come out of them.

#6. On whether or not he is going to contest for President in 2019…

Saraki said: “You are not the first and you will not be the last person to ask me this question. We won an election in 2015. We have not yet delivered. Majority of the people who should be talking about how we are going to deliver, they are talking about 2019. This is the time for governance. When it is time for politics, it is time for politics. If I give any answer to your question, I am also helping to overheat the polity. Everybody should leave that issue of 2019 so we can concentrate on governance…

#7. On what he wants President Buhari’s supporters to know…

Saraki said: “When you want to know who is loyal to you, it is during your trying moments. Go back to two months ago. Who was it who stood up resolutely and said “Mr. President will be back and there is no cause for alarm?” I don’t think that a man who is not loyal to you will do that. We know some people who went to London and saw President Buhari, but they just left. They did not say anything. My message to all our party’s supporters is that I am committed, that whatever we promised Nigerians, we will deliver. For some of us, this government cannot be allowed to fail. We left one party with our supporters and embarked on this journey. We must be able to go back to them and tell them that the journey was worth it. If God forbid this government fails, what will I go back and tell them? it is in my personal and political interest to see that this government succeeds.”

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