•Adds: He’s attacking me because I opposed Muslim-Muslim ticket
•Discloses Tinubu after me for blocking his V-P ambition
•Rivers govt flays APC leader over allegations against Wike
By Clifford Ndujihe, Henry Umoru & Dapo Akinrefon
LAGOS — THE spat between the All Progressives Congress, APC, National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and Senate President, Bukola Saraki, got messier, yesterday, with Senator Saraki accusing Tinubu of attacking him because he opposed his proposed Muslim-Muslim ticket with President Muhammadu Buhari for the 2015 presidential election.
Claiming that Tinubu also confessed that President Buhari excluded him from the APC-led Federal Government, Saraki said personal interest was the main reason Tinubu was supporting Buhari’s re-election.
Tinubu’s media team refused to react yesterday when Vanguard called for its reaction to the Senate President’s claims.
This is even as the Rivers State Government, yesterday, flayed the APC leader for saying Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, defected to PDP because of the presidential ticket Governor Nyesom Wike promised him.
Saraki said: “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.”
Tinubu had on Sunday, accused Saraki and Governor Tambuwal of leaving the APC for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, because they were not guaranteed automatic return tickets.
Specifically, Tinubu said that Saraki had failed in his legislative duty of providing a suitable framework to push through issues he accused President Buhari of failing to address.
According to the APC national leader, Saraki harbours a presidential dream and if he had remained in the APC, he would be unable to retain his Senate seat, let alone the Senate presidency, adding that in a fundamental way, the APC might be better for Saraki’s exit.
Tinubu also said but for Governor Nyesom Wike and other PDP leaders’ promise of presidential nomination, Tambuwal would not have left the APC.
Tinubu also displeased with Buhari’s govt — Saraki
Replying Tinubu in a 1,100-word statement he signed personally, yesterday, Saraki said he had always restrained from joining issues in the media with Tinubu because of the respect he had for him, but “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 prejudices as facts for public consumption.”
The statement, titled The Tinubu Rhetoric – My Response, By Saraki, read in part:
“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 treat the legislature with contempt and act as if the law making body should be an appendage of the Executive. To me, that 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 pariah. A party which ignores justice, equity and inclusion as basic pre-condition 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 party, 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 definitely not shape my decisions now and in the future.
“However, during those meetings, the point of disagreement between me and him is that while I expressed my worry 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 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 Tinubu viewpoint 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 collective, national interest, Tinubu will rather live with the identified inadequacies in 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, 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 ticket, oil block 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.”
Rivers govt faults Tinubu on Wike, Tambuwal
Also reacting to Tinubu’s allegations, the Rivers State Government faulted his remarks that Governor Tambuwal left the APC for the PDP because of the promise of presidential ticket Governor Wike made to him.
In a statement issued in Port Harcourt, yesterday, Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Barr Emma Okah, said: “Governor Wike has not discussed the political ambition of Governor Tambuwal with Senator Tinubu any day and so Senator Tinubu cannot rely on mere rumour to speak unfairly about the governor in the way he did.
“When as Speaker of House of Representatives, Governor Tambuwal defected from the ruling PDP to the APC, why didn’t Senator Tinubu say that Governor Wike had a hand in it at that time or is it because it favoured Senator Tinubu’s APC?”