By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, SAN, the leader of the Senate in this interview asserts that senators irrespective of political leanings would not be moved by party sentiments in consideration of their duties.
What is your reaction to the directive of the APC to its senators not to give passage to the budget?
My immediate reaction is that the Senate as an institution sees issues from just one prism, and that is the prism of national interest.
My experience of the Senate for the years that I have been there is that it is not a partisan institution. Yes, we were elected on the platform of political parties, but the moment you assume your seat on the floor, it is Nigeria that matters, that Nigeria that counts.
We have never been partisan and I don’t see us being partisan now, not at this critical time of our nation’s history.
You can say from outside that you would heed, but when you are on the floor, you are a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, not a PDP senator or an APC senator. It is the national interest.
If the APC senators decide to heed, what would you as the Senate Leader do? The House majority leader has said they would heed. Are you not frightened?
Are they saying that the security challenges that we have, that we shouldn’t have heads of the respective armed forces?
But what of the budget? They are so determined on that?
They said they should stop everything.
Budget for Nigerians
You see the budget is not for PDP members only, Labour Party members or APGA members only. The budget is for Nigerians.
It has been said that it is an act of frustration on the part of the opposition with the government in checking the acts of impunity in Rivers State?
The Rivers situation has become partisan. Hasn’t it? It has become partisan.
But they blame the PDP administration for the partisanship, that security men protect some rallies and breakup those against the PDP?
Ogun State is not PDP but is it any different?
But Rivers State is the issue now. The State House of Assembly cannot meet in its designated building?
The issue of Rivers State is a bit more complicated than you are making it sound.
First of all, don’t forget that at one point in time, the National Assembly took over the affairs of the House of Assembly of Rivers State. Has the National Assembly been properly notified of the circumstances under which its functions were reverted to the Rivers State House of Assembly?
But don’t you feel worried by suggestions that elements in the PDP are manipulating the crisis in the state to favour their goals?
I don’t want to dwell on the issues of Rivers State because having taken over the functions of the Rivers State House of Assembly, there are a number of issues that haven’t been resolved and if I make any comment now it would be pre-empting or prejudicing those issues, so I wont want to dwell on Rivers State House of Assembly. But the core of the APC statement is that government and governance should be grounded and my simple reaction to it is that as senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria we are elected on the platform of political parties, but the moment you are on that floor, there is only one prism through which you see Nigeria, and that is the prism of Nigeria.
So, if the APC members in the House of Representatives stop the passage of the budget, what would you do?
I can only talk for the Senate and in the Senate, we see Nigeria through the prism of Nigeria, not through the prism of partisanship.