• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
businessday logo


‘Let the poor breathe’: Utomi’s criticism misplaced, senate says

Akpabio’s 10th Senate breaks tradition, operates without legislative agenda

The Nigerian Senate has recently addressed comments made by Pat Utomi, a chieftain of the Labour Party, regarding their decision to halt the planned increase in electricity tariffs.

The Senate described Utomi’s comments as “misplaced” and clarified its position on the matter.

Pat Utomi, a politician and professor of economics had expressed disdain at what he described as mockery of the less privilege implied by the “let the poor breathe” joke by the lawmakers.

“I am traumatised by this mocking of the poor by our Senate. In a decent society, we should have had resignations by now,” he said.
“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 via a statement, the Senate spokesperson, Yemi Adaramodu, on Sunday in Abuja, said Utomi’s comment was an “insidious misinterpretation” by certain political figures, who, in their view, unfairly blamed the Senate for the country’s problems.

The joke in reference followed a decision to stop the planned increase in electricity tariffs after a motion was passed on Tuesday, July 25, proposed by Senator Akintunde Abiodun.

During the session, Senator Cyril Fasuyi (APC, Ekiti North) added the prayer “Let The People Breathe,” which quickly went viral on social media. Some interpreted this moment as the Senate President, His Excellency, Godswill Akpabio, mocking the poor.

Read also:Nigerians react as Senate president Akpabio, other lawmakers crack ‘let the poor breathe’ joke

But Adaramodu refuted the allegations and defended the integrity of the Senate members.

He pointed out that the phrase “let the poor breathe” was not intended to mock anyone, but rather, it was an expression of compassion and empathy for the masses, who would suffer the most from any increase in electricity tariffs.

“The personal tirades and character assaults hauled at the Senate President by Professor Pat Utomi are misdirected and uncalled for,” he said.

“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.”

Adaramodu stressed that the Senate is comprised of distinguished men and women elected by the Nigerian public to represent their interests. He cited the motion to halt the electricity tariff hike as an example of the Senate’s responsiveness to the needs of the people.

The spokesperson further clarified that the Senate’s actions were not meant to mock the masses but rather to protect their well-being. The Senate’s stance was driven by the recent memories of the fuel subsidy removal, and they deemed any further increase in electricity tariffs as suffocating for the populace.

The spokesperson also urged individuals involved in political manoeuvring not to exploit the situation for personal gain. Instead, he called for cooperation among all branches of government to improve the country’s economic situation and enhance the lives of Nigerians.

Adaramodu affirmed the senate’s dedication to serving the nation and urged all stakeholders to work together to uplift Nigeria from economic challenges, making life more abundant for all citizens.