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 Timi Frank to Akpabio: Don’t provoke Kenyan revolt in Nigeria

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IGNATIUS OKOROCHA, Abuja

Former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, on Monday, called on the President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, not to provoke a Kenyan-style uprising in the country through his highly condescending and degrading comments.

Frank gave this warning in a statement in Abuja in reaction to Akpabio’s recent comments where he gave parliament’s anticipatory approval to President Bola Tinubu for a new presidential aircraft worth billions of Naira.

Akpabio had while reacting to social media reports that he has allegedly vowed to approve the purchase of new aircraft for the president despite excruciating hardship, denied that there was no such request before the Senate.

He, however, added that if such a request is made, the Senate will approve it in order to forestall the the kind of air mishap that claimed the lives of the President of Iran and Vice President of Malawi.

“Akpabio has been talking recklessly and he has been talking down on Nigerians and making mockery of the Senate and National Assembly”.

He said: “One of the cardinal role of the parliament is to serve as as a check and balance on the other arms of government but Akpabio has derailed by deciding on and goading the executive on what expenditure to make irrespective of the economic plight of taxpayers.

“His effrontery and audacity in turning legislative procedures upside down notwithstanding, his verbiage at times rudely assaults our democracy, denigrates Nigerians as a public official in a position of trust and he is making a mockery of what the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly stands for.

“Akpabio can choose to be President Bola Tinubu’s cheerleader, praise singer and errand boy, but he must not reduce the National Assembly to an organ extending anticipatory approvals for requests yet to be made by the executive and justifying same.

“Akpabio must learn to limit his actions to those within the ambit of his constitutional role by ensuring diligent scrutiny of money bills before the Senate to prevent profligacy and waste and equally refrain from talking down on Nigerians and taxpayers who own the office he now occupies.

“Above all, he must be mindful of the uprising in Senegal that led to the election of 44 years youthful opposition Bassirou Diomaye Faye and the ongoing one in Kenya where the youths invaded the parliament to stop lawmakers from considering an anti-people Finance Bill and the attendant killings of scores by security forces which has sparked a call for President William Ruto’s resignation despite his hasty withdrawal of the Bill.”

He noted that according to reports in the media, the Presidential Air Fleet currently consists of six aircraft, namely, Boeing 737, Gulfstream G550, Gulfstream GV, Two Falcon 7Xs and a Challenger CL605. Also in the PAF are six helicopters made up of two Agusta 139s and four Agusta 189s.

According to him, media reports show that the average budgetary allocation for the maintenance of the Presidential Air Fleet in Nigeria from 1999 to 2024 amount to N214billion, as follows: 1999 to 2000 – N7billion, 2011 – N17.98billion and N3.54billion, 2013 – N7.5billion, 2014 – N7.97billion and 2015 – N5.19billion.

Others are: 2016 – N3.6 billion, 2017 – N4.37billion, 2018 – N7.26billion, 2019 – N7.297billion, 2020 – N8.51 billion, 2021 – N12.55billion, 2022 – N12.48billion, 2023 – N25.7billion, and 2024 – N20.5 billion.

He said: “It’s important to note that the age of an aircraft does not necessarily determine its safety or airworthiness. Aircrafts are subject to regular maintenance and inspections to ensure they are safe to operate, regardless of their age. So the question is: What happened to the about N214billion allocated in annual budgets for maintenance of the Presidential Fleet from 1999 till date?

“So, why can’t Akpabio launch an investigation into how the N214billion was spent or recommend that some of the aircraft or helicopters be sold to augment the cost of buying new ones instead of waiting for a hefty proposal from the executive for express approval?

“Akpabio must realise that being a Senate President is not a right but a privilege and being a privilege he must guard it with decency and decorum by doing the work of Senate President according to law with at least a modicum of respect and consideration for ordinary Nigerians on behalf of whom he claims to be there.

“He should not also forget that if not for a compromised Judiciary, he would not have had a seat in the 10th National Assembly. Nigerians are no fools! He must know that elected government officials are expected to serve the people and not to oppress them.”

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