The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on Thursday said the meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the National Assembly was to ensure “smooth relationship between the two arms of government.”
Mr. Saraki, who stated this while addressing reporters in Abuja, confirmed that the meeting was at the instance of Mr. Buhari in order to have a smooth relationship between the two arms.
“The meeting was an initiative of the President for an interaction with the leadership of the National Assembly. It was a very useful session, being the first one. This kind of interaction helps in ensuring smooth relationship between the two arms of government.
“We discussed a number of issues: some of the plans. The general commitment is that yes, the National Assembly has legislators from different parties but now we are representing Nigeria. We have a common goal to see that we work together for the interest of the country as a whole,” said the Senate president.
Mr. Saraki denied that the meeting was related to his ongoing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
“We are talking about what will make Nigeria work, we are talking about the promises we made during elections. Those are the big issues we are talking about and to ensure that there are no distractions. The focus is to ensure that the executive arm does things in the interest of the county.
“It is normal in democratic setting, from time to time, you see the parliament talking with the executive. That is how to make things work.
“What we are taking away is for Nigerians to be confident that government is working. We are committed to work together and it is going to be for the good of Nigerians at large. It is a good development. We are all committed to what we are all elected to do: to make Nigeria work,” Mr. Saraki said.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt some senators might hold on to the trial of Mr. Saraki and non-release of constituency funds as bargaining chips with the executive.
It is, however, unclear if the senators who perceive the trial of the Senate president as an affront on the institution would accept the presidency’s olive branch and give the ministerial nominees a soft landing during screening.
Senators had on September 29 passed a vote of confidence on Mr. Saraki, who is being tried for false declaration of asset. Mr. Saraki is standing trial on a 13-count charge of false assets and anticipatory declaration at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
The trial is seen by allies of Mr. Saraki as being politically-motivated, owing to his emergence as the Senate President against the wish of the presidency and ruling All Progressive Congress, APC.
A presidency source, however, told PREMIUM TIMES that the meeting with the leaders of the National Assembly was at the instance of some notable Nigerians towards ensuring a harmonious relationship between the two arms.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that the Presidency backtracked when it realised that being at odds with the legislature might be detrimental to smooth running of government.
A presidency source, who preferred anonymity, said the President realised the danger of quarrelling with the legislature when the fate of the ministerial nominees was not decided.
“The meeting is very necessary. President Buhari needs the support of the National Assembly for the smooth running of his government.
“Fighting with the Senate leadership at this material time would not augur well for the administration. Mr. President realised this danger and decided to extend olive branch to Saraki,” the source said.