The Senate has responded to criticism from a Labour Party (LP) leader, Professor Pat Utomi, regarding its decision to halt a planned increase in electricity tariffs, labelling the comment as misplaced.
This increase would have compounded the struggles of everyday citizens.
In a statement on Sunday, Senate spokesperson, Yemi Adaramodu, expressed concern over what he called the “insidious misinterpretation” by certain political actors, who he says “always leave the causes of their troubles to look for unnecessary scapegoats.”
Last Tuesday, July 25, Senator Akintunde Abiodun successfully moved a motion to stop the proposed tariff hike.
During the session, an additional prayer, “Let The People Breathe,” was moved by Senator Cyril Fasuyi.
However, a short video of Senator Godswill Akpabio laughing during the passage of these prayers sparked outrage online, with many interpreting it as him mocking the poor.
Professor Utomi was among those who commented on the clip, stating that he was “traumatized that the lawmakers were mocking the poor.”
Utomi said, “I am traumatised by this mocking of the poor by our Senate. In a decent society, we should have had resignations by now.
“To mock the poor is to mock God. I know where Godswill Akpabio was before Obong Victor Attah gave a hand. Better an honest poor than a rich thief politician.”
Responding to the social media comment, Adaramodu noted that insinuating that the President of the Senate, His Excellency, Godswill Akpabio, was mocking the Nigerian masses with the phrase ‘LET THE POOR BREATHE, is dressing falsehood and mischief in an undesirable garment.
He said, “The personal tirades and character assaults hauled at the Senate President by Professor Pat Utomi, are misdirected and uncalled for.
“The Senate is an assembly of Distinguished men and women, who are sent by the Nigerian public to the Hallowed Chamber to represent their interests. The public-interest motion to halt an increase in the electricity tariff for Nigerians is one of such instances that tests the Senatorial responsiveness of Distinguished members of the 10th Senate.
“With the fire of the fuel subsidy removal still smouldering, the Senate opined that any increase in electricity tariff would be suffocating and that whoever is desirous of doing so should allow the poor; all Nigerians to breathe.
“The Senate President compassionately hit the gavel with a stoic warning that any such attempts would be obnoxious, ludicrous and could only seize oxygen from the reach of the masses.
“Despite this open display of patriotism and sensitivity, some political irredentists and turncoats feel they could turn the omnipotent actuality on its head to gain their lost momentum.
“The Senate didn’t and would not mock the masses, without whom, there would be no Nigerian Senate. Digging into extreme partisanship to impugn on the image of the Senate and particularly the personality of the Senate President, is quite unfortunate and an exhibition of political superficialism, irreverent and opprobrious outburst.
“We believe that whoever is in the court to pursue a self-awarded electoral victory should not labour to assume that running expletives on the Senate and its leadership is the needed elixir to infuse legal blood into the dry veins of their case.
“The 10th Senate, under the leadership of Senate President Godswill Akpabio, has passed many life support resolutions in its short span, including the misinterpreted Senate’s No to Increase in Electricity Tariff.
“We thus advise political rolling stones and pretenders not to play politics with the lives of Nigerians and allow the National Assembly to join hands with other arms of government to pull out Nigeria from economic morass and make life more abundant for us all.”