Senate will probe February 16 election delay – Senator Gaya

A principal officer of the Senate has disagreed with Senator Kabiru Gaya over the latter’s declaration that the upper chamber of the National Assembly will investigate the postponement of the February 16 Presidential and National Assembly elections by INEC.

Gaya, a member of the APC from Kano State, had told State House correspondents in Abuja on Sunday that lawmakers would probe the postponement by summoning INEC’s top managers for questioning.

The polls, originally scheduled for February 16, were shifted by one week to February 23 by INEC just hours to the start of voting.

The elections eventually held on February 23.

He stated that the investigation would be conducted after the legislators would have reconvened in Abuja on March 12.

Gaya noted that the postponement was the major reason the turnout of voters during the elections was poor.

But a principal officer of the Senate said that the red chamber had not taken any decision to probe INEC over the postponement of the February 16 elections.

The principal officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said no committee had been set up by the leadership to Senate to handle such assignment.

“I am a principal officer of the Senate. I am right now in my senatorial district, campaigning for my governorship candidate for next Saturday’s elections. If Senator Kabiru Gaya said that, it is his opinion. I am not aware of such decision and I have nothing to say on it.”

Meanwhile, attempts to get the reaction of the Senate leadership to the issue failed on Sunday as the Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, and the spokesperson for the red chamber, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, could not be reached on phone.

They had also yet to respond to the text messages sent separately to their mobile phones as of the time of filing this report.

By legislative procedure, a member will first have to move a motion seeking a resolution of the Senate to investigate the postponement.

The motion will have to be passed by a majority vote of senators resolving to probe INEC.

But Gaya, who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Works, said, “I was not happy when they shifted the elections and I said after shifting the elections we will call them and we will investigate INEC for shifting the elections because it caused poor turnout of voters on February 23.

“We will find out the reason – if it is funding, we gave them enough funding; if it was the issue of security, the security agencies were ready.

“So, why should INEC shift the elections? We are going to investigate that when we come back after the governorship election.

“But, generally, they did what they could do, I would say, it is a pass mark.”

The former governor of Kano State, who first came to Senate in 2007, praised Buhari for his re-election, saying that he deserved it on account of the work he did between 2015 and this year.

He added, “I remember when I was inspecting one of the roads in Nigeria here, at that time, President Buhari was abroad, I said Buhari will, Insha Allah, commission that road in his first term and also in second term, he will do the second part of the road.

“People doubted me, but thank God, God has done it – Buhari has run for election and he has won the election.

“I am not surprised he won because he has done so much for this country. Take for example, in terms of road, I am the Chairman, Senate Committee on Works, so I know that the budget for the 2014 before President Buhari came in was N22bn.

“But, when he came into office, the budget moved up to N220bn and you can see now the budget is between N300bn and N400bn in 2019. Therefore, the roads that were neglected for 19 years are now motorable. Also, in the agricultural sector, the importation of rice has dropped by 95 per cent.”

Giving his assessment of the voter turnout, the senator stated, “We had just between 30 and 40 per cent turnout all over the country. But, be that as it may, Kano has delivered, we have the highest number of votes and I think we can say that we are part of the determining factors for Buhari’s re-election because he has really done so much for us including the dualisation of the Kano-Abuja Road and the railway projects and so on.”

(The Punch)