I Disagree With APC On Some Issues – Saraki | Independent Newspapers Limited
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I Disagree With APC On Some Issues – Saraki

Posted: Jul 6, 2015 at 12:01 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, spoke to journalists, including IGNATIUS OKOROCHA, last week, on a number of issues which form the core of the crisis in the National Assembly. The first part of the interview was published in Sunday Independent. This is the second and last part.



We are supposed to have a situation of give and take but people are reading meaning to what is happening as a situation of winner takes it all?

I think you are very right and that is what I was saying. If you check, you will find out that I made a plea. There was only one particular zone that had issue and that was North-East zone. In the other zones, there was a general consensus on the direction they were going. But in a scenario where you have over 75 per cent of the senators holding on to a very strong position, it makes things very difficult and I appealed to them to review it. I also had the opportunity to sit with Senator Ahmed Lawan as part of my reconciliation efforts – although some of the good news that have come out of the reconciliation is not in the public domain or reported, because I am confident that this matter will fizzle out and blow away because we are making effort to begin to engage ourselves because these are two groups that never had problems. I did say to Lawan, when we sat down to talk, that he should try and reach out to his members in the North-East so that they can come together to begin to engage themselves. The idea is that beyond the issue of leadership, they must work together as a caucus because there will be many issues that would be sent to the caucuses to go and discuss and there must be unity there. I must say that on Lawan’s own part, too, I could see that efforts are being made. I want you also to understand that it is just two weeks after election. It is normal that after election for this kind of position that was fiercely contested for, there would be sentiments and emotions. If you can remember, after the Presidential primaries, for weeks, there were people today who are now pretending to love President Buhari more than us, they did not attend rallies. They sat in their houses and we were begging them. What I am saying is that two weeks, to me, is short in a healing process and I am sure that if you look at the mood the first day we resumed and the mood today, you will see that peace will come. As someone who has taken this position, I will not stop until I see a full healing process, a full reconciliation. I am a fair minded person and I will be fair to everybody because everybody has contributed for us to get here. Things have happened unfortunately but it cannot be a winner takes all. Everybody must be part of that process and we will get there. We are not entirely there but I believe that in the few weeks within this period of recess, by the time we come back, we would be able to get closer and closer as a united APC family. I am sure that by the time we come back with full leadership in place, we will be better off than where we are now and that responsibility is mine. I will prefer my actions to speak more than what I say. Just come back in two months time, I am confident that this will be a thing of the past.

Since your emergence, have you met with President Buhari, Senator Bola Tinubu, and if you did, what did they tell you?

First, it has been the view of some of us, senators, that what Mr. President wants to see, as a father, is a reconciliation among us and his position is that he will like us to unite so that he is not seen to be on one side or the other. I think those steps are going on. As regards Asiwaju Tinubu, as you know, he is one of the leaders of the party and I have great respect for him. Two of us have worked very closely together on major issues in the party leading to issue that were very important at different stages in the development of our party. Unfortunately, in this matter, as much as one wants to win the support of all forces within, it happened like that and I think at the end of the day, we will look at the things we have done together that have gone well. Yes, it is a setback but I do not think that that in any way was what will dictate the kind of relationship that we have. We (Tinubu and I) are both responsible and committed to the project of the party and Nigeria. We will overcome this and move forward. It is our intention, as part of the healing process, to be able to do that, and it will happen.

There is the general belief that Tinubu did not want to support you because as a Senate President, you will be too powerful, and also the issue of 2019?

I hear a lot about this 2019 and, honestly, I feel very sad that people are talking about 2019 now. The reason I am saying this is because the challenges ahead of us are enormous. We went round. I particularly spent less time in my state during our campaign. I was campaigning with Mr. President and I have the opportunity of going round parts of the country and the aspirations, expectations, of Nigerians are high. We have a lot of work and I cannot understand how responsible politicians, knowing the kind of challenges that we have, will begin to talk about 2019. First, the challenges that we have in meeting the expectations of the people, assuming we are even in a buoyant economy, is huge. Then, unfortunately, we are in a situation where the world economic recession, with the drop in oil price, is going to affect the challenges ahead. How then can we leave those challenges and be talking about 2019? I find that to be very irresponsible. I do not want to be part of it. It is not on my radar. What is paramount to me now is Nigeria. Some of us took a lot of risk, made a lot of sacrifices, left our own party, against everything, went round, campaigned, sold an agenda to the people. We have to deliver and that is my focus. I want people to desist from this because it shows that either we are not committed to what we want to do for Nigeria or we are not sincere if we are talking about 2019. Honestly, anybody that talks about 2019 must be very irresponsible.

In the course of this discussion, you said something about the President, about Asiwaju, but you have not said anything about the party, have you reached out to the National Chairman of your party?

Yes, we have had a meeting with the party chairman. A number of times, we’ve tried to find solutions but, unfortunately, we have not been able to make much progress and that is the reason I find it very funny when I read that the party chairman is either supporting me or that he has compromised. How has the party chairman helped me? If the party chairman was going to help me, most of you were there when we went to Ibeto Hotel for a retreat as early as May 23 and at that retreat, the party chairman was planning to hold mock election but the other group did not turn up and the party chairman could not hold the election that time. Nobody should say that the party chairman is trying to help or is dancing to Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki’s tune. I think that the party has taken some of the decisions based on what they think is their interest. I disagree with the way they have managed some of the issues. It was not to my own advantage, in any way. You talked about Mr. President, I want to assure the public that if you look at the time of the campaign, I was the first person that stepped down his presidential ambition the moment President Buhari announced he was going to contest for election and since then and throughout the time of the primary elections, I worked tirelessly.