Tinubu’s support for Buhari self-serving–Saraki

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*Saraki, Tinubu

The senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has replied the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu saying his support for support for President Muhammadu Buhari is not welled up from the heart.

Saraki made the declaration in response to the allegation by Tinubu that he (Saraki) and the governor of Sokoto State, Mr. Aminu Tambuawal, decamped from the APC to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) because they were not guaranteed automatic tickets by the ruling party.

In a statement entitled: ‘They go away because we go the right way’, Tinubu had said “they left the party to return to a motley agglomeration that would promise them what true democracy could not: automatic tickets, sharing of the national wealth and other offices and privileges.”

On Tambuwal, he said: “Governor Tambuwal’s exit can be distilled to one cause. He covets the presidency. However, he had not the stomach to challenge President Buhari in a primary. Tambuwal felt further insulted that he would be compelled to face a direct primary just to retain the governorship nomination.

“But for the promise made by PDP headliners like Rivers State Governor Wike that he would have the PDP presidential nomination, Tambuwal would not have left. His exit had nothing to do with governance of the nation. It was about forging a personal ambition predicated on the defeat of progressive reform not the advancement of it.”

On Saraki, he said: “Much the same for Senate President Saraki. Returning to the PDP, he harbors dreams of the presidency but Tambuwal’s ambition will dwarf Saraki’s when the two collide. If Saraki had 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.”

Responding, Saraki said in a statement he personally signed that Tinubu was pretentious adding that the APC national had complained a private conversation with him that he (Tinubu) was not happy with President Muhammadu Buhari’s style of governance.

Besides, he said Tinubu had “expressed a strong opinion that he would rather ‘support a Buhari 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,” he said.

Below are full texts of the two statements:

Saraki: 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.

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.

Let me redirect the attention of the former Governor of Lagos State to the aspect of my July 31, 2018, statement announcing my exit from APC in which I emphasized that the decision “has been inescapably imposed on me by certain elements and forces within the APC who have ensured that the minimum conditions for peace, cooperation, inclusion and a general sense of belonging did not exist”.

In that statement, I further noted that those APC elements “have done everything to ensure that the basic rules of party administration, which should promote harmonious relations among the various elements within the party were blatantly disregarded.

All governance principles which were required for a healthy functioning of the party and the government were deliberately violated or undermined. And all entreaties for justice, equity and fairness as basic precondition for peace and unity, not only within the party, but also the country at large, were simply ignored, or employed as additional pretext for further exclusion.

The experience of my people and associates in the past three years is that they have suffered alienation and have been treated as outsiders in their own party.

Thus, many have become disaffected and disenchanted. At the same time, opportunities to seek redress and correct these anomalies were deliberately blocked as a government-within-a-government had formed an impregnable wall and left in the cold, everyone else who was not recognized as “one of us”. This is why my people, like all self-respecting people would do, decided to seek accommodation elsewhere”.

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 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.

Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, CON

President of the Senate

Tinubu: ‘They go away because we go the right way’

The defections of some people from the APC have generated sensational headlines and exaggerated talk as to what their departures foretell for the APC, the party to which I belong. Some have predicted the demise of the APC. Those who hope for our decline will be disappointed by the inaccuracy of their desires. The days, months and years ahead will bury such errant forecasts for these predictions are born more of bitterness than of objective analysis.

Much of the attention has centered on which party now controls this or that state and which party maintains a majority in the National Assembly. These considerations are important to members of the political class and the electoral calculations of the political parties. But these calculations cannot be all there is. We must be careful not to reduce our horizon to a mere accounting of elected officials moving from one party to another.

“Many in the political class believe this score keeping between the parties encompasses all that is important. For such people, the mere holding of office is the sole objective. The quality of governance they provide means little to them. Yet, there are greater things at stake than the fortunes of individual politicians. The people of Nigeria focus their attention on something materially different than this narrow political game.

The people are more deeply concerned with the quality of governance they experience than with the intense cunning by which the political game is played. They are more interested in helpful policies than in the tempests created by politicians in pursuit of personal ambitions. That which provides a better life in a more prosperous nation is what beckons to them. That which shines in the eye of the political opportunist is dross to the average person.

We must pull back from the shallow headlines to recognize that something fundamental is at stake.

Nigeria is undergoing a historic transition. Sometimes awkwardly, tentatively, yet inexorably, we nurture political and governance reform. We steadily close the door on the old malpractices that have caused a rich nation to reside in the tenement of the global poor. The corruption of the past is ending; for it must end if we are to fulfill our collective purpose. With this correction, less public money will be diverted to private benefit. More will be afforded to the causes of the people. The economy is being transformed so that the average person will have a better chance of finding a better life.

We move toward a more democratic union. The old days where a handful of uninformed men and those with deep pockets decided everything for everybody are being swept away. The will of the people can no longer be ignored. Those who would be the masters over the people must now be public servants. A party or elected official may no longer rule over the people. They must govern for the benefit of the people.

By so doing, the arc of our national progress is shaped. Not everyone is happy with this trajectory. As a whole, the political class must relinquish some of its power and wealth so people can enjoy a more equitable portion of the national enterprise.

This is the correct and perhaps inevitable course Nigeria must pursue. To their credit, many politicians see the need for reform and even champion it. Yet, there are those in the political class who scheme against collective improvement. They seek to halt progress toward a fairer nation. They seek to hold to the old ways. The difference between the two parties and why some people returned to their PDP conclave must be seen in this light.

This is more than competition over numbers. What rests in the balance is not whether one party has more elected officials on its roster, but which party has the right mindset and policies to reform Nigeria that she may become what goodness demands of her. We are in locked battle to define the future of this nation and the quality of its governance. This battle pits one party, the APC, with all of its imperfections, that seeks national reforms against another party, the PDP, which symbolizes the perfection of the most selfish designs of the most selfish politicians among us.

This moral battle informed the recent defections. Those who belong to that PDP mode of thought could find no permanent comfort in walking the path of progressive reform and progress. All the things we have inaugurated such as school-feeding programs for poor pupils, social security for poor families, affordable housing programs, greater access to credit for small businesses and greater access to education and health care, these things the defectors could not well abide. They detested President Buhari’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) innovation because it barred them from mis-directing funds into a maze of unaudited accounts from which they could siphon as they pleased. Buhari cut off their clandestine illicit spigot.

These politicians see accountable good governance and lifting of the common person as the tearing down of their quest for great riches and power.

Even more so, they detested the APC drive toward greater internal democracy. They bristled when we demanded that congresses and conventions be held; they had demanded giving themselves automatic extension in their positions. They privately erupted as the APC decided that direct primaries where all party members vote on the party’s nominations should be the way of the future. The injection of greater democracy meant a decrease in their ability to manipulate end results. Politics will be ushered out of the backroom and given to the people to whom sovereignty genuinely belongs. These men could not countenance such transformation. They saw it not as the gift of democracy but as an obstacle that complicated their self-interest. They left the party to return to a motley agglomeration that would promise them what true democracy could not: automatic tickets, sharing of the national wealth and other offices and privileges.

Their defection statements swell with high-sounding words and the attempted grasp of lofty ideals. While I shall refrain from being so coarse as to call these statements counterfeit, I must invoke a sufficient level of common sense for the protection of all. Anyone who accepts their statements at face value will quickly experience buyer’s remorse. Their attempt at fine notions aside, what compelled these people was galloping yet blind ambition.

Governor Tambuwal’s exit can be distilled to one cause. He covets the presidency. However, he had not the stomach to challenge President Buhari in a primary. Tambuwal felt further insulted that he would be compelled to face a direct primary just to retain the governorship nomination. But for the promise made by PDP headliners like Rivers State Governor Wike that he would have the PDP presidential nomination, Tambuwal would not have left. His exit had nothing to do with governance of the nation. It was about forging a personal ambition predicated on the defeat of progressive reform not the advancement of it.

Much the same for Senate President Saraki. Returning to the PDP, he harbors dreams of the presidency but Tambuwal’s ambition will dwarf Saraki’s when the two collide. If Saraki had 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.

The rest of the defectors were given similar assurances by the PDP as to their offices. The APC refused to make such bargains as they are part of the ancient regime; these bargains are not of our democratic new way.

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.

In a fundamental way, the APC may be better for their exit. It would be untrue to say their departures did not generate concern. As the air clears and we can better assess what is lost and gained by their exit, I can truthfully say the APC will be better off because they are gone.

We can now focus more wholly on democratic governance inside and outside the party. Inside the party, we have adopted direct primaries to discourage corruption of the democratic process. Regarding public policy, we can now better articulate our progressive stance without having naysayers among complaining that we are going too far or that the good we seek for the people ought not to be done.

We can more decisively push for the jobs program, expansion of social security for the poor, affordable housing programs and a viable mortgage system, national infrastructural program that will provide adequate power and potable water, basic health care for all, and educational reform. Each of these is important in itself. In combination, these objectives shall reshape the very landscape of our political economy. They shall bring fairness and prosperity where none has been. They will give the average person a government that serves them and the land that they deserve.

But this prospect means a large segment of the political class will oppose the APC. We, as a party, must have the courage to accept this reality. Having decided to place the public welfare above the private welfare of the few, we must forge ahead no matter the foes aligned against us.

This struggle toward a better Nigeria is hard, described more by difficult obstacles than by smooth passages. Had reform been easy, the task would have already been accomplished. Powerful hands have gathered to halt our collective move forward. Not everyone wants a better Nigeria for all. Those who profit from the imbalances of the past are those who fear a fairer tomorrow.

Come the general election, the people will face a stark choice. If they want to relive the certain failure and inequality of the system the PDP had erected against their very interests, the people will walk the way of the defectors. If the people want to give themselves a better chance at an excellent nation they will adhere to the path elected in 2015 when they voted for reform and the APC.

I believe in the collective wisdom of the people. They will choose the right way for they are Nigerians which means they shall do what is right and just.

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu

August 19, 2018.

 

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