Senate President Bukola Saraki said on Monday that the former Governor of Lagos State, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s comments on Sunday indicating that he (Saraki) left the ruling party because of the fear of automatic tickets were driven by self-centred ambition.
Saraki, in a detailed reply to Tinubu’s statement on Sunday in which he lambasted Saraki and the Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal for leaving the All Progressives Congress (APC) because of the fear of President Muhammadu Buhari, said that Tinubu was blinded by his 2023 presidential ambition, adding that the former Lagos Governor has decided to stomach every wrongdoing by Buhari so as to achieve his 2023 ambition.
Tambuwal, who also replied Tinubu in a tweet on Monday said that he did not leave the APC for fear of President Buhari, adding that he could have contested in the APC against Buhari and won.
Tambuwal said: “If I wanted to and if the Presidency is what Ahmed Tinubu thinks I defected, I could contest with President Buhari under the APC. I have what it takes to have contested with Mr President.”
Saraki, who issued a detailed reply titled “The Bola Ahmed Tinubu Rhetoric: My Response,” said that whereas Tinubu had equally expressed displeasure over happenings in the APC at several meetings he had with him, the lure of the 2023 presidency had forced the former Lagos helmsman to swallow every bite of the pill he is given in the APC.
He stated that he had remained consistent with complains that the legislature was being treated with levity by the Buhari administration, adding that the government wanted a rubber stamp legislature.
According to him, no leader of the legislature would be comfortable with a situation where no consultations are held with the legislature on matters that would be presented to the chambers.
He said: “I have always restrained from joining issues in the media with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed 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 the All Progressives Congress (APC) and present his prejudice 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, this is unacceptable.”
Saraki added: “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 pariahs. A party that ignores justice, equity and inclusion as basic pre-conditions for peace, unity and stability cannot sustain its membership and leadership.”
He also referred to his speech on July 31, when he defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to correct the impression that he ran away from the possible contest with Buhari in the APC.
According to him, the decision to quit the APC was imposed on him by “certain elements and forces within the APC,” adding that the said forces made sure that the minimum condition for peace, cooperation, inclusion and a general sense of belonging did not exist.
The Senate President stated further that Tinubu himself had expressed displeasure with the style of governance as well as the fact that he himself (Tinubu) had been disrespected by the government.
He said: “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.”
He noted, however, that while he has expressed his disappointments and noted that the administration was not about to change its style, Tinubu had expressed a strong opinion that he would support Buhari because of his 2013 Presidential ambition.
He 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.”
He added that while his own decision was based on “protecting the collective national interest,” Tinubu had decided to live with the identified inadequacies of the government so as to achieve his 2023 presidential ambition.
He also recalled that his sour relationship with Tinubu developed following his (Saraki’s) decision to stop the former Lagos state Governor’s ambition of imposing a Muslim-Muslim ticket on the APC in 2015.
“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 geopolitical zones.
“Since that time he has been very active; plotting at every point to undermine me, both within and outside the National Assembly,” the Senate President stated.
he added that it was a surprise that Tinubu was peddling stories that he left the APC because of the automatic ticket when a newspaper owned by the same Tinubu had earlier reported that he was being promised oil blocks and other benefits in order not to defect.
He further submitted: “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 fulfil their aspirations.”