The race for 2019 became interesting recently when the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, confirmed his interest in the Presidential Race to a German medium, Bloomberg. -believing he can make the difference, Saraki is now busy consolidating his newly found position as the National Leader of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. And this has changed permutations.
This Magazine has earlier in the year noted that Saraki’s imminent declaration for the Presidency has already got the front-line contender, Atiku Abubakar, twirling his suspenders into a knot. In an earlier converse with Atiku, which was said to have taken place in Saudi Arabia, Atiku was said to have officially told Saraki about his ambition, seeking his support. Though Saraki was non committal, he did not out-rightly show his support.
Then came the buildup to the National Assembly siege, an event that did enough to shore up the popularity ratio of the Senate president. After the siege and the subsequent international and local outcry, Saraki held what he called a world Press conference, a masterstroke statement on the openness of the national Assembly. Then he went on consultation spree. First, he went to consult with Ibrahim Babangida, former military dictator, who is reputed to still have enormous influence on the political terrain. He was said to still have lots of loyalists within the army. Saraki spent hours with him in a closed door meeting in what was described as final consultations before declaration. Shortly after that, he hosted the chairmen of 35 political parties. Officially, they came to commiserate with him on the siege at the National Assembly, but this Magazine was reliably informed that the meeting was also to solicit support from them in his quest for the Presidency. Recall that the political parties has signed a pact to support one political party for the Presidency in their bid to unseat the incumbent, and that, in reaction, INEC decided to open the registration doors to more political parties, bringing the number to 91.
The next port of call was former president Obasanjo. The closed door meeting was said to have centered on his presidential ambition. Analysts believe that Obasanjo, suffused with the messiah complex, would never support a Yoruba presidency not wanting a competitor in that regard. The nearest to him was Ernest Shonekan, the interim president. This was also behind his reason for not wanting to support Moshood Abiola, the assumed winner of the election of June 12 1993.
Obasanjo is said to be comfortable with the presidency of Bukola Saraki. His thinking is that his current profile, if sustained, could be a plus for him. After the consultations, the indirect campaign started rolling in from Doyin Okupe, Obasanjo former spokesperson.
Meanwhile, his entrance into the race has sparked of a flurry of activities. The tentative favorite of the PDP inner caucus, Aminu Tambuwal. He is no longer too sure of the ticket. He has been meeting with Atiku, Kwankwaso, and Saminu Turaki to forge a common front. Atiku is particularly piqued that Saraki came from nowhere to become the party leader. Atiku was said to have presented the fact of political spread as the reason why they should rally round him for the elections.
Atiku’s position may not be far from the truth. In fact, one of the contenders was said to be worse than Buhari in tribalism and Islamic fundamentalism. To buttress this, sources close to the Northern Elders forum cited an incident that happened under the Presidency of Goodluck Jonathan. It was alleged that over eighty Boko Haram members were arrested. A number of Northern elders, including this aspirant, met Jonathan and demanded that the terrorists be unconditionally released.When the president was not heeding them, the particular aspirant insisted that if that is not done, the killing of Southerners will begin in earnest in the North. Jonathan later relesed them. “Today, the same person is crisscrossing everywhere as the champion of one Nigeria, and a lover of all Nigerians”, the source disclosed.
Whether the alliance will be consolidated remains to be seen. But one thing is certain: Bukola Saraki is leveraging on the euphoria. Recently, he took some senators to Akwa Ibom state to reassre the Governor that they are behind him. It was rumored that the governor may be overwhelmed by the pressures coming from the APC hierarchy. He went there with the newly appointed minority leader, Biodun Olujimi, who was selected as replacement and partly to assuage the Southwest in the senate. And despite the pressure from the APC chairman that he must resign, he has not budged.
Meanwhile, it has been the fear of the APC hierarchy that it will come to this. It is believed that the fight against him has been to reduce his political stature.B
That, according to analysts, has been behind Oshiomholes desperation to impeach him. It was gathered that Oshiomhole had vowed that before Buhari comes back he would have removed Saraki. It was gathered that most of the funding for the impeachment saga came from the so caaled returned Abacha loot and millennium development agencies. Their last attempt resulted in the sack of Lawan Daura, the former Department of State Services, DSS, boss. With the return of Buhari, there has been serious Pressures on Buhari to sack the National Security adviser, Monguno, who has not been in terms with Daura, and recall Daura. Since the sack of Daura, there has been no direct statement from Buhari on the issue.