President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, on Thursday in Abuja paid a condolence visit to a national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, who lost his first son, Jide.
Saraki described the incident as “unfortunate” and said the senate is “pained by his demise.”
Saraki also signed a statement on behalf of the senate to console with Tinubu.
“All of us in the Senate are deeply saddened by the untimely passage of Mr. Jide Tinubu, the son of former Senator and top political leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Jide was not only a promising young man but had what it takes to contribute to the overall wellbeing of his family in particular and the nation in general,” Saraki said.
The difference: Saraki’s wording of the statement was very careful. To understand what he did there, it’s important to look at how the other top leaders of the executive and national assembly addressed Tinubu in their own condolence messages.
Speaker Yakubu Dogara: “I commiserate with our national leader, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu over the demise of his son Jide. I was shocked to receive the sad news of the sudden death of Jide Tinubu.”
Pres. Muhammadu Buhari: “President Muhammadu Buhari is deeply grieved to learn of the passing away of Jide Tinubu, eldest son of the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu.”
Now look at Saraki’s statement again: “All of us in the Senate are deeply saddened by the untimely passage of Mr. Jide Tinubu, the son of former Senator and top political leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.”
For others, Tinubu is “APC national leader.” For Saraki, he is a “top political leader.” The difference is significant. Saraki has resisted giving the appellation of “APC national leader” to Tinubu ever since the conflict between the two men blew into the open with Saraki’s emergence as senate president.
In a famous exchange between the two in October 2015, Saraki said there had been no meeting between him and Tinubu since he was elected senate president.
“I recognize Tinubu as one of the leaders of the APC who contributed so much to the victory of the party in the last election. Some other people also contributed and I believe the collective efforts made it possible for the first time in the history of our party for an opposition party to win the general elections,” the senate president said.
Since then, the men have met in different occasions, most recently at last week’s wedding of Saraki’s daughter in Lagos, but they do not appear to be anything close to political allies still.