The President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, yesterday, accused Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of blindly supporting President Muhammadu Buhari because he wants to succeed him as Nigeria’s president in 2023. Saraki also revealed that Tinubu had complained to him in their series of meetings towards reconciliation in the past, wherein the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) always expressed his displeasure with the style of Buhari and the disrespect he had suffered from the government. Saraki made these declarations in a statement he personally signed, in reaction to Tinubu’s Sunday statement wherein he stated that the Senate President defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), because of his failure to get automatic ticket back to the Senate in 2019 and refusal to sharing national wealth. He said contrary to his concerns, Tinubu had always expressed his unflinching support for Buhari because he was certain that power would shift to the South-West in 2023 and that would obviously be an opportunity for him (Tinubu) to actualise his presidential ambition.
The Senate President said that his decision to quit the APC was based on protecting collective and national interest, while Tinubu would rather live with the identified inadequacies in the government for the sake of fulfilling and preserving his presidential ambition in 2023. He also alleged that the former governor of Lagos State had been fighting him because he vehemently opposed the Muslim-Muslim ticket Tinubu plotted to foist on the APC at the level of presidency in 2014. On the misgivings Tinubu have about Buhari, he said: “Tinubu himself will recall that during the various meetings he had with me at the time he was pursuing reconciliation within the party, I raised all the issues.
I can also vividly recall that he himself always expressed his displeasure with the style of the government and also mentioned that he had equally suffered disrespect from the same government which we all worked to put in office. “I also made the point that whatever travails I have gone through in the last three years belong to the past and will definitely not shape my decisions now and in the future.
“However, during those meetings, the point of disagreement between me and him is that while I express my worry that there is nothing on ground to assure me that the administrative style and attitude would change in the next four years in a manner that will enable us deliver the positive changes we promised to our people, he (Tinubu) expressed a strong opinion that he would rather ‘support a Buhari on the hospital stretcher’ to get a second term because in 2023, power will shift to the South-West. This Tinubu viewpoint was not only expressed to me, but to several of my colleagues. So much for acting in national interest. “It is clear that while my own decision is based on protcollective, national interest, Tinubu will rather live with the identified inadequacies in the government for the sake of fulfilling and preserving his presidential ambition in 2023.
This new position of Tinubu has only demonstrated inconsistency, particularly when one reviews his antecedent over the years.” Saraki recalled the genesis of his frosty relationship with Tinubu. According to him, “Again, let me reiterate my position that my uncertain and complex relationship with Tinubu has been continually defined by the event of 2014 when myself and other leaders of the APC opposed the Muslim-Muslim ticket arrangement about to be foisted on the APC for the 2015 polls.
“It should be noted that he has not forgotten the fact that I took the bull by the horns and told him that in the interest of the country, he should accept the need for the party to present a balanced ticket for the 2015 general elections in terms of religion and geo-political zones. Since that time, he has been very active, plotting at every point to undermine me, within and outside the National Assembly. “It is a surprise to me that Asiwaju Tinubu is still peddling the falsehood about the fact that my defection is about automatic ticket and sharing of resources. Members of the public will recall that when the issue of my decision to quit APC came to the fore and many APC leaders were holding meetings with me, a newspaper, owned by the same Tinubu, published a false report about the promise of automatic ticket, oil block and other benefits.
“I immediately rebutted their claims and categorically stated that I never discussed any such personal and pecuniary benefits with anybody. My challenge that anybody who has contrary facts should come forward with them still remains open. “It should be known that democracy is a system which allows people to freely make their choice. It is my choice that I have decided to join others to present a viable alternative platform for Nigerians in the coming elections. Tinubu and leaders of the APC had better respect this decision or lawfully deal with it. As for me, Allah gives power to whom He wishes. Human beings can only aspire and strive to fulfill their aspirations.” The President of the Senate, however, reiterated that his defection was propelled by the failure of the Buhariled APC government to fulfill its campaign promises to the people of Nigeria, and also the politics of exclusion, which characterised the party since it saddled the mantle of leadership in 2015. He stressed that democracy provides opportunity for people to make choices and that it was his choice that he decided to join others to present a viable alternative platform for Nigerians in the coming elections, urging Tinubu and leaders of the APC to respect this decision or lawfully deal with it. Saraki pointed out that he would have ignored the uncomplimentary comments of Tinubu about him, but decided to react in order to put the record straight so that Nigerians would not take false accusations of Tinubu against him for truth.
He said: “I have always restrained from joining issues in the media with Asiwaju Tinubu and this is based on my respect for him. However, I will not allow him to create a wrong, false and mischievous impression about the reasons for my decision to exit APC and present his prejudices as facts for public consumption. “I have been consistent in my complaints to all leaders of the APC, including Tinubu, that a situation where the National Assembly is not constructively engaged or carried along in key policy decisions, particularly those that will eventually require legislative approval, is not in the best interest of the nation. “No genuine leader of the legislature will be comfortable that the Presidency will simply write a terse letter to the National Assembly on key issues which the federal legislature is expected to later deliberate upon and give its approval. “The Buhari administration consistently treats the legislature with contempt and acts as if the lawmaking body should be an appendage of the Executive. To me, that is unacceptable.
“In the same way, I find it very objectionable that many stakeholders who worked strenuously to get the administration into office have now been excluded in the government and not consulted on key decisions as necessary and expected. “In fact, some of them are treated as pariah. A party which ignores justice, equity and inclusion as basic pre-condition for peace, unity and stability cannot sustain its membership and leadership.”
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