War Of Words Between Bola Tinubu And Bukola Saraki
There has been a war of words between President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and it doesn’t look like the war is about to stop anytime soon. In the past month, at least 12 senators, 36 members of the House of Representatives and two state governors have dumped the ruling party. And this has caused a lot of panic within the ruling APC party.
Tinubu seemed to have initiated the war on Sunday 19th August 2018, when he accused the duo of Saraki and Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal, of leaving APC because they both wanted the presidency ticket, and resource sharing. Tinubu stated this in an analytical piece titled “They Go Away Because We Go The Right Way,” said that because the APC party couldn’t give Saraki and Tambuwal what they wanted, they chose to leave. According to him, the defectors “left the party to return to a motley agglomeration that would promise them what true democracy could not: automatic tickets, sharing of the national wealth and other offices and privileges”.
“Nigeria is undergoing a historic transition. Sometimes awkwardly, tentatively, yet inexorably, we nurture political and governance reform. We steadily close the door on the old malpractices that have caused a rich nation to reside in the tenement of the global poor”. Mr Tinubu advanced a similar argument for the defection of Mr Saraki.
“Much the same for Senate President Saraki. Returning to the PDP, he harbours dreams of the presidency but Tambuwal’s ambition will dwarf Saraki’s when the two collide. If Saraki had remained in the APC, he would be unable to reclaim his Senate seat let alone the Senate Presidency. He thus bolted because he lusts for the presidency but was promised by the PDP, at least, a return to his position in the Senate”.
“For Saraki to talk about lack of governance is for him to deny who he is and the position he holds. This man stands as Nigeria’s Number 3 citizen. Clothed is he in ample power and influence. If he saw areas where government and the nation needed help, he could have easily applied his energies to these areas. He could have drafted legislation and easily got laws passed”.
“However, no progressive enactment bears his name for he cared not for progress. He has been more focused on changing the rules of the Senate to favour himself and changing the order of elections so as to coincide with his selfish designs”.
He maintained that other defectors were given assurances on their ambitions by their new parties, a step the APC refused to take. Mr Tinubu said the party is better off with the exit of the defectors.
“The rest of the defectors were given similar assurances by the PDP as to their offices. The APC refused to make such bargains as they are part of the ancient regime; these bargains are not of our democratic new way.
“There is nothing wrong with ambition. Without a degree of ambition, we would never strive to improve and develop ourselves. But ambition, restrained by nothing but itself, is a dangerous commodity. Unwed to social conscience, it leads to ruthlessness; it is the father of the deception that leaders are meant to lord over instead of to serve the populace.
“In the final analysis, the reason for the defections is as clear to see as it is crooked in its motives. The APC seeks to reform governance and politics. However, many powerful people believe the established system assures their maximum benefit. Progressive reform would defeat them. They must fight reform and never be allied to it. Thus, they had to leave the APC.
“In a fundamental way, the APC may be better for their exit. It would be untrue to say their departures did not generate concern. As the air clears and we can better assess what is lost and gained by their exit, I can truthfully say the APC will be better off because they are gone.”
Saraki, being one who is quite versed in the art of defending every allegation levelled against him, responded to Tinubu’s claims. Saraki described Tinubu’s analysis as ‘wrong and mischievous’, and insisted he is surprised that Tinubu is “still peddling the falsehood about the fact that my defection is about automatic ticket and sharing of resources.”
Saraki also stated that Tinubu had been publishing false claims about him through his newspaper. Saraki said, It was his choice “to join others to present a viable alternative platform for Nigerians in the coming elections and that, since democracy is a system that allows people to freely make their choices, then “Tinubu and leaders of the APC had better respect this decision or lawfully deal with it.” Below is the full response:
“I have always restrained from joining issues in the media with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and this is based on my respect for him. However, I will not allow him to create a wrong, false and mischievous impression about the reasons for my decision to exit the All Progressives Congress (APC) and present his prejudice as facts for public consumption.
I have been consistent in my complaints to all leaders of the APC, including Tinubu, that a situation where the National Assembly is not constructively engaged or carried along in key policy decisions, particularly those that will eventually require legislative approval, is not in the best interest of the nation. No genuine leader of the legislature will be comfortable that the Presidency will simply write a terse letter to the National Assembly on key issues which the federal legislature is expected to later deliberate upon and give its approval.
The Buhari administration consistently treats the legislature with contempt and acts as if the law making body should be an appendage of the Executive. To me, this is unacceptable. In the same way, I find it very objectionable that many stakeholders who worked strenuously to get the administration into office have now been excluded in the government and not consulted on key decisions as necessary and expected. In fact, some of them are treated as pariahs. A party that ignores justice, equity and inclusion as basic pre-conditions for peace, unity and stability cannot sustain its membership and leadership.
Let me redirect the attention of the former Governor of Lagos State to the aspect of my July 31, 2018, statement announcing my exit from APC in which I emphasized that the decision “has been inescapably imposed on me by certain elements and forces within the APC who have ensured that the minimum conditions for peace, cooperation, inclusion and a general sense of belonging did not exist”. In that statement, I further noted that those APC elements “have done everything to ensure that the basic rules of party administration, which should promote harmonious relations among the various elements within the party were blatantly disregarded.
All governance principles which were required for a healthy functioning of the party and the government were deliberately violated or undermined. And all entreaties for justice, equity and fairness as basic precondition for peace and unity, not only within the party, but also the country at large, were simply ignored, or employed as additional pretext for further exclusion. The experience of my people and associates in the past three years is that they have suffered alienation and have been treated as outsiders in their own party.
Thus, many have become disaffected and disenchanted. At the same time, opportunities to seek redress and correct these anomalies were deliberately blocked as a government-within-a-government had formed an impregnable wall and left in the cold, everyone else who was not recognized as “one of us”. This is why my people, like all self-respecting people would do, decided to seek accommodation elsewhere”.
Tinubu himself will recall that during the various meetings he had with me at the time he was pursuing reconciliation within the APC, I raised all the above issues. I can also vividly recall that he himself always expressed his displeasure with the style of the government and also mentioned that he had equally suffered disrespect from the same government which we all worked to put in office. I also made the point that whatever travails I have gone through in the last three years belong to the past and will not shape my decisions now and in the future.
However, during those meetings, the point of disagreement between Tinubu and I is that while I expressed my worries that there is nothing on ground to assure me that the administrative style and attitude would change in the next four years, in a manner that will enable us to deliver the positive changes we promised to our people, he (Tinubu) expressed a strong opinion that he would rather ‘support a Buhari on the hospital stretcher’ to get a second term because in 2023, power will shift to the South-west. This viewpoint of Tinubu’s was not only expressed to me but to several of my colleagues.
So much for acting in national interest. It is clear that while my own decision is based on protecting the collective national interest, Tinubu will rather live with the identified inadequacies of the government for the sake of fulfilling and preserving his presidential ambition in 2023. This new position of Tinubu has only demonstrated inconsistency — particularly when one reviews his antecedents over the years.
Again, let me reiterate my position that my uncertain and complex relationship with Tinubu has been continually defined by the event of 2014, when I and other leaders of the APC opposed the Muslim-Muslim ticket arrangement about to be foisted on the APC for the 2015 polls. It should be noted that he has not forgotten the fact that I took the bull by the horns and told him that in the interest of the country, he should accept the need for the party to present a balanced ticket for the 2015 general elections, in terms of religion and geo-political zones.
Since that time he has been very active; plotting at every point to undermine me, both within and outside the National Assembly. It is a surprise to me that Asiwaju Tinubu is still peddling the falsehood that my defection is about automatic ticket and sharing of resources. Members of the public will recall that when the issue of my decision to quit APC came to the fore and many APC leaders were holding meetings with me, a newspaper owned by the same Tinubu published a false report about the promise of automatic tickets, oil blocks and other benefits.
I immediately rebutted their claims, and categorically stated that I never discussed any such personal and pecuniary benefits with anybody. My challenge that anybody who has contrary facts should come forward with them still remains open. It should be known that Democracy is a system that allows people to freely make their choices. It is my choice that I have decided to join others to present a viable alternative platform for Nigerians in the coming elections. Tinubu and leaders of the APC had better respect this decision or lawfully deal with it.
As for me, Allah gives power to whom He wishes. Human beings can only aspire and strive to fulfill their aspirations.”
What do you think of these exchanges between Tinubu and Saraki?