Nigeria’s former Senate President, Bukola Saraki claimed he suffered persecution from the executive arm of government simply because he was for the independence of the National Assembly.
He stated this during a Twitter space discussion on Saturday, hosted by an #EndSARS campaigner, Rinu Oduala.
Saraki, a former governor of Kwara State and president of the eighth Senate said he stood for the independence of the National Assembly, boasting that his tenure was the best in the history of the National Assembly.
He commented particularly in response to Aisha Yesufu, activist and co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG), who described the eighth national assembly under Saraki as being the worst until the coming of the 9th Senate.
Yesufu read out messages she shared with the Twitter handle of the former Senate President and responses given.
According to her, the eighth assembly under Saraki did not stand for the Nigerian people with reference to the #OpenNASS, a campaign on openness, transparency and accountability of the national assembly.
She stated that the Legislature under Saraki was not independent of the Executive alleging that the Nigerian President during the eighth assembly was taking money out of the Excess Crude Account without the approval of the Senate but nothing was done about it.
She said it is very easy for politicians when they’re out of the office to speak on what can be done rather than actually doing it when they’re in office.
Responding to the activist’s comment, Saraki rebuffed Yesufu’s claims as he said the 8th Senate was “transparent”
The former Kwara State governor said he was “persecuted” because he stood for the independence of the National Assembly.
On the #OpenNASS campaign, the former Senate president said the National Assembly under him made the budget a public document.
“When she talked about #OpenNASS, you can go and check the records, before the eighth national assembly, there was no time before then that the budget of the national assembly was a public document.
“We made it public for the first time in the history of the national assembly, that is one of our achievements. The time she was talking about was maybe at the beginning of the process.
“Not only that, The budget process for the first time had public hearings, it has never happened in the history of this country.
“In the history of the national assembly, go and check, loans that were being requested by governors were being asked questions. We say ‘tell us what these specific loans are for’. It has never happened, it is not happening now. Is it?
“When you talked about ‘curry’ favour. One of the things we went through is because we were not currying favour. All the personal prosecutions I went through was because I did not curry favour.
“All I went through for four years is because I was standing for the independence of the national assembly.
“We made sacrifices for the national assembly. If you go and look at appointments, we stood our ground for the appointments that we felt were right or wrong. That is standing for the independence of the national assembly.
”Today, the most important bill in the health sector where we allocated 1% of CRF for health insurance had never been done before. It was the 8th national assembly. Take all the national assemblies together, add all the bills they’ve passed, till today, we have passed the most bills since the history of the national assembly. I will defend those records any day because I’m proud of what we have been able to do.”
Last month, Saraki declared his intention to run for president in 2023 on the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
During the online conversation, participants asked him questions regarding the 2023 general election and his cross carpeting within parties.
In response to why he left the APC, Saraki said the failure of President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime under the ruling All Progressives Congress to bring about the needed change made him leave the party.
He said he had thought the party’s change vendetta was going to help him achieve his agenda for the good of all Nigerians.
On why he supported Buhari for the presidency in 2015, the former senate president said he supported the president with good intentions for change in the country.
The former Kwara governor said he left the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) when he realised that the change agenda promised by the party to Nigerians was not being achieved.
“My view in 2015, honestly, was that there was an issue of security and the level of corruption at that time and the issue of integrity, ability to lead the country with honesty and good intentions a lot of us felt that there was going to be a change,” he added.
“There was nothing personally one was gaining out of it. It wasn’t that one was doing it out of any personal gain at all.
“You could see that when I realised that what we hoped to achieve and deliver for Nigerians was not happening, we parted ways.
“I think that that was an acceptance for me to say that this was not what we bargained for. That is the truth, I am speaking from the heart about what happened.
“We had great hopes and intentions. It did not happen. I, unlike others, said look this is not what I promised Nigerians, and I can’t continue, and we parted ways, and that is the truth about that.”