The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has alleged there was a plan to abduct him on June 9, the day the 8th Assembly of the Senate was inaugurated, with the aim of preventing him from running for the presidency of the Senate.
Mr. Saraki, who spoke to journalists in Abuja on Saturday, said he got wind of the plan and decided to smuggle himself to the chamber of the Senate as early as 6 a.m. as a way of frustrating the plot.
“As regards the meeting, on the morning of the inauguration, I didn’t finish meeting until 4am of that day and I had got information that efforts would likely be made to make sure that I didn’t get access into the chambers,” Mr. Saraki said.
“So, as early as 4:00am and 5:00am, I had made contingency plans that I must get into the National Assembly because the plan before was that Senators-elect should go to the Transcorp Hilton Hotel around 8:00clock and 9:00am to proceed to the National Assembly.
“But I was advised that it would not be safe or secure for me to do that because some people made sure that if I didn’t get into the chambers, it would not be possible for me to be nominated for the nomination to be seconded and for me to accept the nomination.
“I can tell you today that I was in the National Assembly Complex as early as 6:00 in the morning and I stayed in a car in the park from 6:00 in the morning till quarter to 10:00am.”
Mr. Saraki also claimed that contrary to reports he had no deal with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), whose members voted for him en-mass. He said he had nothing to do with emergence of Ike Ekweremandu of the PDP as Deputy President of the Senate.
Blaming the emergence of Mr. Ekweremadu on the tardiness of All Progressives Congress’ senators who were attending a meeting purportedly called by President Muhammadu Buhari at the International Conference Centre, Mr Saraki said he campaigned vigorously for the position and reached out to every Senator irrespective of his or her party and that there was no need for him to enter into a separate deal with the PDP for their support.
“Never in our wildest imagination did we envisage that some Senators would not be present on the day of the inauguration,” he said.
“In my own view, and in the view of some of those who worked closely with me, I worked hard for my election. I had direct contact with every single Senator, one on one; weeks leading to the election. I did not rely on anybody. I worked hard both in our party, the APC, and out of it. I approached every Senator, I talked to them…we built confidence, not only in the APC, but also, in the PDP. I talked to them.
“That was why I laugh when people said I had a deal with Ekweremadu or I had a hand in the emergence of Ekweremadu. I didn’t need any deal to win. I had penetrated…There was no deal; I didn’t need any deal in the first place. I had worked hard such that everybody who was a Senator, I campaigned hard and canvassed for their votes and won their confidence.
“One of the meetings held at Transcorp Hilton, which Senator Godswill Akpabio co-chaired with Senator Ibrahim Gobir and a few others had both APC and PDP members in attendance. At that meeting, if you heard most of them there, the position they took was that ‘this is the Senate President they want. Across party lines, they believe in me and that this is the Senate President that can lead us…there was no deal.
“It is unfortunate that we have a PDP man as deputy Senate President. It is painful. It is painful for any APC member because when we went through the struggle. That was not what we signed for,” he said.
Mr. Saraki’s defiance of his party’s directives that Ahmad Lawan be made Senate President has triggered a crisis that is threatening to tear the fold apart.
He however said he remains committed to using his position to support the Buhari administration to achieve its plans for the country.
I was not invited to the ICC meeting
Against the claim of the APC that all its senators were aware of the planned meeting with the president at the International Conference Centre (ICC) on the morning of the inauguration, and invited to attend,
Mr. Saraki said no one told him of the meeting and that he was indeed surprised when he got to the chamber of the senate and found almost all APC senators missing.
“So, anybody who said they spoke to me to go to the ICC was not true because I didn’t even know what was going on. All I was monitoring was how people were arriving at the complex. It was at quarter to 10:00am that I got information that the Clerk to the National Assembly had entered the chamber.”
“Sometimes, I wonder how some of our colleagues found themselves at the ICC. If it had been a case of the Clerk of the National Assembly making an announcement that the event had been postponed or it was no longer holding… There was no invitation. I’m sure some are asking now: what really happened?”
I dropped my presidential ambition for Buhari
He also dismissed reports that he was using his ascendancy as President of the Senate to shore up his political profile because of his ambition for the presidency in 2019.
He claimed he dropped his presidential ambition for Mr. Buhari and contributed immensely to his emergence at the March 28 presidential poll.
“I was the first person that stepped down his political ambition once General Buhari announced that he was going to contest the presidential election. And since then, prior to the period of election, I worked tirelessly to support his emergence.
“Even some of my friends who are not supporting me now are doing so because I did not support them in their presidential ambition and that I supported President Buhari. That is why I find it funny that the same people are now claiming to love Buhari more than me. It is a very funny world.
“These are people that I was begging to leave the stage for Buhari to run since all of us are young. They are now the one going round to say that Saraki did not like Buhari but time will tell.”