Posted by From KENNY ASHAKA, KADUNA on
National Chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ahmadu Ali and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) presidential candidate in the 2003 elections, Major General Mohammadu Buhari on Wednesday disagreed on the steps taken by the Senate to kill the Constitutional Amendment Bill.
National Chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ahmadu Ali and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) presidential candidate in the 2003 elections, Major General Mohammadu Buhari on Wednesday disagreed on the steps taken by the Senate to kill the Constitutional Amendment Bill. They both spoke on the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
This is coming at a time pro-third term elements are trying to rent crowds across the country to protest the senate action.
Ali, who was furious with the Senate for throwing out the bill, described members of the upper legislative chamber as a bunch of rascals and wicked people who do not have the interest of the nation at heart.
Buhari, on the other hand, applauded the Senate for taking the bold and patriotic step, saying that doing anything to the contrary would have meant throwing the nation into chaos and anarchy, and thereby truncating the hard-earned democracy.
General Buhari also wants the National Assembly to set up a panel of enquiry to unearth the allegations of bribery levelled against some of the members, even as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (ECFF) has pledged to investigate the matter.
The PDP national chairman lamenting that the Senate did not take into consideration the other 113 clauses contained in the bill said: "The Senate should not look at a clause that the opposition doesnít want and throw away the entire bill containing other 113 clauses, because there are so many things people want in the constitution amendment.
"Since the regime of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, when the Mid-West region was created, no democratic government was able to create any state; only military regimes created the states. This time round, there is opportunity for creation of new states, particularly in South East which has been agitating for additional states. Now the entire bill has been thrown away and the South East feels cheated.
"But that was a shameless and selfish act. The Senate is shameless. I was a senator three times, hence I know what ought to be done. In this matter, the Senate should have picked the clauses the people want and drop the rest, but the entire bill was thrown away just like that. It is lack of shame and lack of consideration.
"Imagine the mature step taken by the House of Representatives where the bill was moderated, but the Senate, because they donít want a clause or work, only making useless and cacophonous noises, they did the worthless work and dispersed shamelessly."
However, Buhari said that he was particularly thrilled by the action of the Senate which could best be described as victory for democracy and woeful failure for enemies of democracy, adding that the hasty move to amend the constitution at the twilight of the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration was unpatriotic and selfish.
"The entire process was deceitful since it was meant to favour a single individual. With what happened at the National Assembly, we can now move forward. Let a new crop of leaders emerge at the 2007 polls who will then set in motion the proper process of amending the constitution. Besides, why the haste in amending the constitution if not for selfish purpose?
"Also, I want to call on the National Assembly to set up high-powered panel of enquiry to investigate the bribery allegations levelled against some of its members. This should be done immediately even as the EFCC has pledged to investigate the matter."
In his own reaction, former Kaduna State governor, Alhaji Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa, applauded the Senate for taking the bold step to save the nationís democracy from collapsing on the laps of a single individual.
He called on the president, to order proper funding of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to commence the process of conducting next yearís general elections.
He warned that should the President fail to do so immediately, the only safety valve or face saving device will be for him to resign honourably.
"We now call upon Obasanjo, to know that Nigerians have decided and he should not, under any circumstances, try to reverse the decision of the National Assembly. If he tries to do that he will be setting himself against all Nigerians and he is going to be the loser. He should now begin the process to hand over power on 29th May, 2007," he stressed.
In a related development, Senator Jonathan Silas Zwingina has defended his support for third term despite being in the camp of Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
Zwingina said that although he personally opposed third term and that his constituency did not also approve of it, he was compelled by the overriding need to show loyalty to the party to support third term. He added that politicians in the North East where he came from, lost elections in the past when they changed their parties.
It will be recalled that Zwingina served as a strategist and a pointsman for Atiku in the Senate. He allegedly attended all meetings and was the head of a think-tank that included other senators and members of the House of Representatives.