The Senate President, Bukola Saraki on Monday revealed that the support which a national leader of the All progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, is giving to the re-election ambition of President Muhammadu Buhari, even if on “a hospital stretcher”, has nothing to do with national interest, but stems from the former Lagos governor’s desire to be President in 2023.
This was as he stated that Tinubu had before now expressed his displeasure with the style of the President Muhammadu Buhari government and also mentioned that he had equally suffered disrespect from the current federal administration which he laboured to put in office.
The Senate President spoke in reaction to a statement issued on Sunday by the APC national leader where he claimed that Saraki and the Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal defected from the APC to the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, because they cannot among other things secure automatic tickets for the 2019 elections.
But in a riposte personally signed by him on Monday, Saraki insisted that Tinubu is not acting in national interest, adding that while he is focused 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.”
The Senate President also stated that his strained relationship with Tinubu dates back to 2014 when he advised against Tinubu being picked as running mate to President Buhari that would have seen the APC fielding a Muslim-Muslim ticket at the 2015 presidential election, adding that he had at that time told the former Lagos governor to “accept the need for the party to present a balanced ticket for the 2015 General Elections in terms of religion and geo-political zones”.
Part of Saraki’s statement read, “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. I also made the point that whatever travails I have gone through in the last three years belong to the past and will not shape my decisions now and in the future.
“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.
“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.
“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 tickets, oil blocks 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 that allows people to freely make their choices. 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.”