President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to meet one-on-one with Senator Bukola Saraki two weeks after the latter connived with top officials of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to win the post of Senate President in a move that both stunned and angered the hierarchy of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
SaharaReporters learned that Senator Saraki had made several overtures to get a private meeting with Mr. Buhari, to no avail. One source revealed that Mr. Saraki’s latest attempt was to follow the president to his hometown of Daura in Katsina State to take in the commencement of the Islamic Ramadan period. The president reportedly rebuffed the move.
Following President Buhari’s rebuff, Mr. Saraki reportedly arranged a quiet visit to Vice President Yemi Osibanjo to apologize for an insulting remark he had made in the heat of his high-stakes maneuver to win the leadership of the Senate by striking an alliance with the PDP. Top APC officials claimed that Mr. Saraki had turned down an invitation by VP Osibanjo to discuss his contentious pursuit of the Senate Presidency by stating contemptuously that “a mere commissioner” could not summon him to a meeting. Mr. Osibanjo, a former commissioner in Lagos State, had sought to meet with Senator Saraki in order to resolve a crisis that arose from the latter’s scheme to outmaneuver his party, the APC.
Following Mr. Saraki’s emergence as Senate President in an election described by officials of the APC as irregular, Mr. Buhari had publicly accepted his triumph. Even so, the president has refused to do anything that would amount to a public validation of Mr. Saraki’s victory.
Two associates of Mr. Buhari told SaharaReporters that the president shared the APC’s dismay with Mr. Saraki’s alliance with the PDP to snatch up the top Senate post. “The fact of the matter is that the president [Mr. Buhari] will not abandon the party’s position altogether,” one of our sources said. Another added, “Mr. President [Buhari] has never been comfortable anyway with Dr. Saraki since [Mr. Saraki] is well known as a corrupt person who will try to hinder the administration’s fight against corruption.”
One source in the Senate told SaharaReporters that Senator Saraki, troubled by President Buhari’s refusal to meet with him, reached out to former President Olusegun Obasanjo to broker a truce with the president. The source said Mr. Saraki had used a personal friend, Andy Uba, a senator from Anambra State, to seek Mr. Obasanjo’s intervention to mend the cold rift with President Buhari. Mr. Uba, who served as a senior aide on domestic matters to Mr. Obasanjo, was one of the closest and most powerful associates of the former president.
A source at the Presidency told SaharaReporters that President Buhari was not impressed by Mr. Saraki’s reasons for colluding with the PDP to gain power as Senate President. “The way Senator Saraki colluded with the PDP to gain power through the backdoor, what prevents him from colluding against Buhari in the future? What prevents him from even working with certain political interests to get Mr. President impeached?” the source stated.