Battle of the Presidents: How Saraki Outsmarted Buhari

By Uche Mbah

The Battle between the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the reformed APC, took a new turn with an attempt by the Presidency to engineer an impeachment of Saraki and the entire Senate presidency. Trouble started when the group that called themselves the rAPC was formed, spearheaded by Buba Galadima. Since then, the Presidency has had no peace. The new APC Chairman-now regarded as a factional chairman, Adams Oshiomhole,-started doing shuttle diplomacy at night while talking tough during the day. He openly declared that they are inconsequential people who want to leave the party. The formation of the rAPC was meant to satisfy constitutional requirements  that requires a crisis or split in a party before anybody can decamp from the party. Already, a group that has been described as the new PDP, or nPDP, have indicated that they needed to decamp to PDP. This was the core of those that decamped from PDP to APC in the wake of the 2015 presidential elections.

Oshiomhole’s approach seemed not to be yielding results. Hence, president Buhari, known to be disdainful of begging anybody, was said to have condescended to invite Bukola Saraki to beg him not to decamp to PDP. He was said to have dangled automatic ticket back to the Senate and the Senate Presidency to him, which Saraki turned down. Unconfirmed reports indicate that he went as far as offering him an oil block if he will jettison the idea of decamping. Though Saraki has debunked the allegations, insider information indicate that there may have been some truth in the allegations.

As they are talking to Saraki, so are they also hounding Buba Galadima, the rAPC leader. He plainly told them that “the train has already left the station”, adding that if Saraki decides not to go with them they will go without him-an indication that Saraki may have been tempted by the mouth watering offers. But in the final resolution Saraki was said to have given his final answer as a resounding no. And, of course, this was not acceptable to Buhari.

In a last ditch efforts, Buhari invited Rabiu Kwankwaso, a senator and former governor of Kano state, who also has an eye for the presidency as part of the consultations. At the same time, Oshiomhole and his group were to talk to Galadima again. They met in the night at a hotel-Oshiomhole group and Galadima-in the night/early morning of July 22, 2018. By day break, Galadima had an accident, where his car somasaulted several times. He has since been hospitalized.

Meanwhile. Buhari, in cohort with the DSS and the Police, hatched a plot on how to impeach the Senate President and his deputy. Members of the remaining APC, led by Ahmed Lawan, were quartered in the Nicon Hotel, waiting for the right moment. The plan was for Saraki and his Deputy, Ekweremadu, to be detained while Lawan and his group will go to the Senate and effect an impeachment of the duo. It was a variation of the earlier attempt by Senator Omo Agege, who walked into the chambers with thugs suspected to be Directorate of Security Services, DSS officers to hijack the mace, expecting Ike Ekweremadu, who was presiding, to adjourn plenary so they will come back for a minority impeachment. Ekweremadu stayed put, and with the belt of Senator Shehu Sanni used temporarily as mace, until the Lower House closed hurriedly and provided their own mace. Later the mace was found, and Senator Agege was not prosecuted.

This time around, the Inspector General of Police invited Saraki to answer charges on the Offa robbery case, where he was linked as a sponsor of the robbery in a curious twist. He was meant to appear at the station by 8.00 am, which will distract him until the impeachment is perfected. But not wanting to leave anything to chance, a contingent of Police and DSS officers were at his house before seven o’clock. His convoy was already leaving the house when they were stopped. Not only that, they proceeded to seal off the house of the Deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, and the house of senator Dino Melaye. They were never served with any letter.

Meanwhile, Senator Lawan left the Nicon Hotel with his colleagues in three Hilux buses to the senate. They were said to be given special identification tags to admit them to the National Assembly complex. But unknown to them, Saraki and co were aware of the impending impeachment. Different versions fly about on how Saraki was able to get to the Senate Chambers. It was said he outsmarted the Police and escaped in a rickety taxi. But this magazine was told that he was already at the Senate chambers before the siege, that he never was in the convoy. Which explains why they barricaded his house to prevent him from escaping, since they thought he was still there.

Saraki himself did not tell how he escaped. But he gave an insight into what hapened. “The road leading to my place was cordoned off and all cars coming in and out as early as 6:30 were being stopped and you have to come down.”, he said.“My convoy was stopped from moving. Given something that one was prepared for, I had my own car too. So the deputy senate president called me and said he could not come here.And as you are all aware, very late yesterday, at about 8 p.m., I received a letter asking me to report to the police on a case of this Offa robbery which had been concluded before now. That’s the situation why the DSP could not come here and I was already going somewhere else. If not, this plenary would not have been able to hold today. So I had to come here.”

Mr Saraki condemned the siege saying it was God that made him escape it.

“But as you all rightly said, if one of our colleagues cannot come out for no fault of his, I don’t see how we can continue to sit and ignore the fact that a presiding officer cannot be here.“And if it was by the plan, I too, would not be here. It was just by the intervention of the almighty God that I was able to get myself here.”

His sudden appearance at the chambers was a shock to coup plotters. Immediately, he went into action, after voiding the order of special recognition of senators at the gate. PDP senators were all present at the chambers, which saw a level of fullness not seen in recent times. Then the defections began.

The first tranch of senators to defect were Sen. Tejouso , Sen. Shaaba, Sen. Gemade,Sen. Melaye, Sen. Shittu,Sen. Rafiu, Sen. Shitu Ubali,Sen. Isa Misau, Sen. Hunkuyi, Sen. Monsurat ,Sen. Danbaba, Sen. Nafada, Sen. Nazif  and Sen. Kwankwaso. Others were expected to follow suit. It is expected that at the end of the exercise, 25 senators will have defected, including senator Bukola Saraki.

Meanwhile, police still laid siege on Ekweremadu’s house. Faced with public outcry, they hurriedly searched for a reason to justify their siege. EFCC then came up with a letter, hurriedly cobbled, and sent to him. This was after Ekweremadu wrote about the siege on his Facebook page.

The implication of the defections means that the PDP now has an overwhelming majority in the Senate. With this, it will be easy for the impeachment of president Buhari. But this may likely not be so. This is because if Buhari is impeached, chances are that the Presidents men in Security might stage a coup to prevent Vice president Osinbajo from taking over. The next option, more favorable to Saraki, will be a clean sweep of the President and his vice, paving way for Saraki to become President to organize an election within three months. A lot can happen within the three months. It will also throw up Ekweremadu as the Senate president.

In all these, the APC leader, Asiwaju Tinubu, has been silent.

The next days will unfold the direction the country will move towards.

 

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