Senate President Bukola Saraki has accused the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, of supporting President Muhammadu Buhari for selfish reasons.He was reacting to Sunday's statement by Tinubu who claimed Saraki defected to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) because he wanted an automatic return ticket.
"I will not allow him (Tinubu) to create a wrong, false and mischievous impression about the reasons for my decision to exit the APC and present his prejudice as facts for public consumption," Saraki said in a counter statement yesterday. Tinubu had said: "If Saraki remained in the APC, he would be unable to reclaim his Senate seat let alone the Senate presidency. He thus bolted because he lusts for the presidency but was promised by the PDP, at least, a return to his position in the Senate."
"For Saraki to talk about lack of governance is for him to deny who he is and the position he holds. This man stands as Nigeria's Number 3 citizen. Clothed is he in ample power and influence. If he saw areas where government and the nation needed help, he could have easily applied his energies to these areas. He could have drafted legislation and easily got laws passed.
"However, no progressive enactment bears his name for he cared not for progress. He has been more focused on changing the rules of the Senate to favour himself and changing the order of elections so as to coincide with his selfish designs." Tinubu said others who defected alongside the Senate president received "similar assurances by the PDP as to their offices." He said the APC, however, "refused to make such bargains," because they were undemocratic vestiges of an old political dispensation.
"There is nothing wrong with ambition. Without a degree of ambition, we would never strive to improve and develop ourselves. But ambition, restrained by nothing but itself, is a dangerous commodity. Unwedded to social conscience, it leads to ruthlessness; it is the father of the deception that leaders are meant to lord over instead of to serve the populace.
"In the final analysis, the reason for the defections is as clear to see as it is crooked in its motives. The APC seeks to reform governance and politics. However, many powerful people believe the established system assures their maximum benefit. Progressive reform would defeat them. They must fight reform and never be allied to it. Thus, they had to leave the APC," Tinubu declared.But Saraki argued there was more to Tinubu's denunciation than met the eye.
"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.
"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 southwest. This viewpoint of Tinubu's was not only expressed to me but to several of my colleagues; so much for acting in national interest."
He said while his decision to leave the APC was hinged on "protecting the collective national interest," Tinubu stayed back, preferring to "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."
Challenging anybody to produce facts showing his defection was all about "automatic ticket and sharing of resources," he added: "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."Unmoved by Saraki's self-defence, the APC fired another salvo yesterday, declaring him unfit to govern the country on account of alleged corruption and selfish ambition.
In a statement by National Publicity Secretary Yekini Nabena, which listed the alleged sins of the lawmaker, the APC warned Nigerians to be "wary of a man whose personal ambition will always supersede the interest of the majority and national interest as currently displayed in the National Assembly.
"While Saraki refuses to reconvene the National Assembly, the 2019 election budget of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is dangerously delayed, an action deliberately taken to sabotage INEC's ability to conduct free, fair, transparent and credible elections in 2019."The party was reacting to a recent interview granted by Saraki to international news organisation, Bloomberg, where he expressed an intention to seek the nation's highest office on the platform of the PDP.
According to the APC, the only politics Saraki plays is "self, himself only and only himself." It said: "Now, it is the presidency Saraki wants. And we ask with what antecedents is he doing this? Conspiracy, blackmail, treachery and vaunting ambition, which overleaps itself and falls on the other, as rightly captured by William Shakespeare. Bukola Saraki will rather rule in hell than serve in paradise."