The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has renewed his pledge of loyalty to the governing All Progressives Congress, APC, after defying the party’s directive not to contest elections for the National Assembly leadership.
The APC had propped up Senator Ahmed Lawan as its consensus candidate for the position of Senate President in the 8th National Assembly but Saraki insisted on contesting against his party’s choice by teeming with Senators of his former party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
He won unopposed, while 51 senators loyal to the party leadership were at the International Conference Centre, waiting to hold a purported meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Mr. Buhari did not attend the meeting eventually and later acknowledged that due process seemed to have been followed in the emergence of Mr. Saraki as well as that of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, who also defied the party’s leadership not to contest against its anointed candidate, Femi Gbajabiamila.
The alliance between Mr. Saraki and Senators loyal to him fuelled speculations that they may have reached a deal with the PDP to return to the opposition party.
Debunking the insinuation as “absurd and laughable” on Wednesday, the Senate President said he was not going anywhere just as he vowed not to succumb to the antics of his political adversaries, who have resorted to cheap blackmail.
According to a statement personally signed by him, Saraki said “It is just cheap blackmail by political adversaries who want to call a dog a bad name in order to hang it. And those making such desperate allegations should remember that I willingly left the PDP on matters of principles when the party was in power. Is it now that the party is out of government and in opposition that I will now return having worked so hard for my party in the last general elections?”
He affirmed his commitment to the APC, saying he remains “a loyal party member and a leader of the party, committed to contributing my quota to building the party and helping it to deliver its promise of change to the people of Nigeria”.
He also commended Mr. Buhari for resisting pressure to interfere with constitutional legislative business of the National Assembly.
He described the president’s reaction to Tuesday’s election of National Assembly leaders as a “great mark of leadership” and “a demonstration of the President’s commitment to democracy”.
“I commend President Buhari for remaining steadfast in his commitment to the principle of non-interference in National Assembly politics even in the face of great pressure on him to act otherwise. This shows that Mr. President is a man of great conviction who, in his own words, belongs to everyone and to no one”, he said.
Stating further, he urged all members of the National Assembly to put politicking behind them and settle down for the proper business of lawmaking.
Mr. Saraki expressed readiness to embrace every member of the Senate regardless of their political leanings in the leadership elections just concluded.
“Our country is going through a very trying time. We have the challenge of insecurity in the North East; the massive problem of youth unemployment; and general economic challenges occasioned by fall in revenue. All these are against the huge public expectation that propelled our party into office.
“We have pursued our legitimate aspirations appropriately. Now that the issues have been settled, we need to move on in the larger interest of our people, whose mandate made us to be in a position to aspire to these positions in the first place”, the Senate President said.