Senate president Bukola Saraki has now responded to the statement released on SUnday by the APC national leader, Bola Tinubu, in which Tinubu accused those who left the APC of doing it for their personal interest and because they could not abide by the change being effected by the APC.
Summary: Saraki showed a willingness to fight and push back against Tinubu, while making unsubstantiated allegations of his own. He continued to take the stance that his defection was not just about him.
Below are five takeaways:
1. Even Tinubu complained about Buhari:
“Tinubu himself will recall that during the various meetings he had with me at the time he was pursuing reconciliation within the APC, I raised all the above 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,” Saraki said.
If true, this claim by Saraki should not come as a shock to anyone. For a very long time, Tinubu was not a happy man – his nominees for positions were rejected by the president, his larger-than-life persona within the APC was being threatened even in the South West as Rotimi Akeredolu got the Ondo governorship ticket without his blessing. At some point even his wife had to publicly protest. Tinubu basically went silent, hardly making contributions to national issues.
2. Tinubu is the one who is in this for his selfish interest:
Here is what Saraki said: “However, during those meetings, the point of disagreement between Tinubu and I is that while I expressed my worries 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 to 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 viewpoint of Tinubu’s 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 protecting the collective national interest, Tinubu will rather live with the identified inadequacies of 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 antecedents over the years.”
This is another unsubstantiated allegation by Saraki. It seems rather unlikely that Tinubu would open up to Saraki, an arch-rival of his, that he is supporting Buhari just because he wants the presidency back to the South West in four years. In times like this we wish someone has a recording because it is hard to really believe the words of a Nigerian politician. However, the reason this allegation strikes a chord is because everyone knows that Tinubu has always and continues to harbour hopes of becoming Nigeria’s president someday. Such an ambition can be a big motivation to support a president even when you hate his style and his disrespect to you.
3. The national assembly is not here to be a rubber stamp for the president:
“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, this is unacceptable.”
This point is clear enough.
4. Why Tinubu is still angry with 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, both within and outside the National Assembly.”