Senator Ahmad Lawan Wednesday declared that his aspiration for the President of the Nigerian Senate is not a do-or-die affair, pledging to accept whatever role he may eventually play in the soon to be inaugurated 9th Senate.
He also dismissed insinuating comments that his would be a puppet senate, vowing to disagree with the executive arm of government whenever necessary, and without breaking bones.
The senate leader spoke at an interactive session in Abuja where also hinted of a blueprint to stymie the intractable budgeting crisis in the national assembly.
Accompanied by his campaign organization, Senator Lawan said his desire to lead the senate as its President is not at all cost, noting that his failure in 2015 to clinch the exulted office did not stop him from loyally servicing his people and contributing his quota eventually as Leader of Senate.
“My becoming senate President is not a do or die affair. We contested for this seat in 2015, just by way of reminder, and it was the will of God that I will not be senate president. And you can bear me witness that that did not stop me from going to the national assembly to participate in the activities of the senate, represent my people. I was a committee chairman and conducted myself as such and eventually elected Senate leader and continued to serve up till now,” he said, pledging to accept the will of God on the matter, and continue to serve his people and support the National Assembly.
He decried accusation that he will lead a rubber stamp Senate saying the claim does not fit his disposition. He insisted that the senate under his watch will disagree whenever necessary and carry to the letter its oversight responsibility over the executive arm.
The difference he said is that he will not sound it out in the market place, but instead will dialogue with the executive arm to resolve difficulties.
He said: We are going to be that senate, that national assembly that the 1999 constitution (as amended), says we should be. We are going to be that national assembly that oversights the executive arm of government; that national assembly that legislate to make life better for Nigerians, the national assembly that each member, each senator represents his or her constituency very well.
“But we also will be that national assembly that support the executive arm of government for good governance.”
As legislators, he noted that their perspective may differ from that of the executive from time to time but that such disagreement need not cause disaffection.
On the lingering budget passage crisis, which sometimes stretch up to seven months, Senator Lawan said the issues can be addressed with a change of attitude on the part of the national assembly and the executive arm.
He said that his approach to halting the problem is for both chambers of the national assembly to agree to set a time limit of three months within which the budget will be passed, and getting the executive to key into the arrangement.
His word: We believe we can turn this around with the right attitude. In this case both the national assembly and executive arm of government. If in the National assembly we agree within ourselves that we are going to pass the budget within three months ,we also agree with the executive, so that within that period, nobody goes out except on health grounds . We must be around to ensure a time-framed passage of the budget.
“We devote one whole month on budget defense, absolutely. No plenary, just budget defense, except the issue is absolutely necessary.”
He stressed that if accepted no heads of MDAs will leave the country during the budget defense window without defending his budget, except on health grounds. Senator Lawan was of the view that Nigerians will support the arrangement as it will put paid to the bickering, accusations and counter accusations that always trail budget passage in the country.
He added that after the budget defense the senate and House will have two solid months for analysis and the various committees to submit their reports as he stressed urgency for the 9th National assembly to returned to January-December budget cycle.
Lawan who said he will work senators in the PDP, maintained that he can do so with flouting the mandate of PDP. He stated that he has the support of his party to consult the opposition, adding that as a progressive party, he perfectly understands what his party requires of him.
“What the party wants to do is to support the government in whatever lawful way we can for us to provide the raw materials, legislative interventions that the executive arm of government requires to ensure the economy works for every Nigerian, especially in the area of generating employment for the youth and troublesome security situation that we face. It is our duty to come up with the mechanism that will bring stability, unity and keep us focused on those issues that make life better for Nigerians “