FREEPRESS – A key member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has seen danger in Senate President Bukola Saraki’s alliance with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
It is dangerous for President Muhammadu Buhari, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso said yesterday.
In his view, the political romance will create inhibitions for the Buhari administration .
Dr. Saraki was elected Senate President on June 9 after he rejected the APC’s choice, Ahmed Lawan and struck a deal with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The pact produced Ike Ekweremadu as Deputy Senate President.
To Kwankwaso, this happened because the APC leadership missed some vital steps and gave ample opportunity to Saraki’s group, which used it effectively.
He described Ekweremadu’s election as “unacceptable” to APC.
Ekweremadu has linked his election to the integration of the Southeast, but to the former Kano State Governor, that is “sheer rubbish.”
Kwankwaso in an interview in Abuja, said: “To the best of my knowledge, the Saraki group is yet to reach out to the Unity Forum of Senator Ahmed Lawan and Senator George Akume.”
He said although APC was divided, it is not too late to correct things.
Kwankwaso said Saraki became the President of the Senate because of some factors including conspiracy against Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the failure of the APC leadership to act on time, the plot by G-5/G-7 members who were interested in seeing one of them occupy a position; and some groups who believed that Saraki had given them so many things and it was pay-back time.
Kwankwaso said: “On the issue of what went wrong, I think there were so many things having to do with time. This election had to do with time. We had so many weeks before the election to address this issue. This is not the time to say I told you or I told them, but many of us tried to tell our leaders to do the right thing at the right time.
“I think the party missed the crucial opportunity to address this challenge. I think time was crucial of which the party missed some important steps and therefore things went wrong. I told you the party missed some vital steps and gave an ample opportunity to Bukola Saraki’s group and they used it effectively and took all the advantages that had to do with the mistakes of our leaders.”
Kwankwaso said some forces in APC also contributed to the “sad” development in the Senate, especially those who conspired against Tinubu.
His words: “I am aware that members of the G-5/G-7 group were interested in seeing one of us occupying one of the strategic positions. I am also aware that there are some people in the party who believed Tinubu had taken so many things and it was time to take a break. They had a perception that Tinubu was trying to take it all. There are other groups that believed that Saraki had given them so many things and they had to pay him back. Many senators believed that they were supported by Saraki.”
Kwankwaso raised the alarm that the PDP will use the opportunity of the alliance with Saraki to create hurdles for Buhari.
He said: “You see, first of all, the President will face a lot of irritations in the sense that these people must be very angry with themselves, they must be very angry with Nigerians and, therefore, will do everything possible to put all sorts of hurdles on the way of Mr. President. That is obvious.
“I can always read their mind. I was one of them, I was part of them, I was part of the party but we had to leave the party because of this attitude. So, in some of the books that I read, especially Islamic books, there are things that we call Sadaqatuljariya (doing charitable deeds like building schools, hospital, throughout your life) and you will be getting reward and even after you die.
“These sorts of mistakes are what we call Musibatuljariya. It is so bad and it is a bad thing that will continue to occur until the system goes to end because they have their own agenda to tackle the APC, to tackle the APC government, they are angry with themselves, they are angry with the people and Nigeria because they feel Nigeria belongs to them and they wanted to take everything and Nigerians rejected them.”
On the feeling of President Buhari, he said there was no way he would be a happy man with the development in the Senate.
He said: “I think the position of Buhari was that the party should handle it. I don’t think he wants to put his fingers there. I am not sure his fingers are in it but what I know is that I am not sure if he is happy that members of our party could not be loyal to it. They could not go by the dictates of the party. I am not sure if Buhari is a happy man even though he did not put his fingers but he was expecting that members of his party will be loyal to the party.
“ I don’t know his mindset, I have not seen him since the election but I am sure that he cannot be a happy man with his party, where he is the national leader, has set up position and some members decided to go against it to the extent of bringing people who should not be in those positions.”
The former governor was concerned that Saraki is neck deep in the alliance with the PDP, adding that the development might make reconciliation challenging.
He said: “I believe the party is doing something that will bring back the members together and have good understanding but what complicated the whole situation now is that more than 50% of Saraki is in PDP, if you take the condition of the position of the Senate President. I don’t know which percentage he will give and, therefore, it becomes more difficult.
“And the implication of this now is that very soon, the leadership of the Senate will start Tambuwalising the party and, of course, the government as we have seen in 2011.”
Saraki has said he will not return to the PDP.
Kwankwaso admitted that Saraki’s election has divided the party.
“I think the party, unfortunately, is divided but it is not too late to correct many things but the party should take certain steps to ensure that such things will never happen again in the party and I am one of those who advised or tried to advise my brother, Saraki that he should not go too far with that ambition under this circumstance.
“At this level and his level, people should be more careful and cautious in what they do and what they don’t do and especially that the situation is even worst than the case of Tambuwal during the House of Representatives election of principal officers in 2011.
“Of course, Tambuwal’s case was a case of going out of zoning but all the positions went to members of the party. But this time around, because of the ambition of our members, I think they went and connived with people who are not only opponents of the party but enemies of the party to fight the party after the people of this country have discarded these people.
“And now because of ambition, these people were made in a way relevant and I don’t think that is the best way to go. Members of the party should have certain limitations, they should know when to start and when to stop and I think this is going too far in romancing members of the PDP.
“As far as we are concerned, PDP was dead until recently when this ambition brought certain people to do what they should not do in democracy and party politics and how they are just about to create unnecessary life for them to the extent that some of them are servicing again and making all sorts of statements.”
Kwankwaso faulted Ekweremadu’s election and his assumption that the slot was meant to integrate the Southeast.
He said: “Just yesterday, I was reading, I don’t know whether it is true or not, that Ike Ekweremadu was talking rubbish, nonsense. It is like they have reasons to speak again and I think it is because of the mistakes of our members. I believe that at the end of the day, the party and members must get a way of coming together and behave well, I think that is the only way we can make progress.”
“I don’t think I should be in a hurry to say that he should resign but all I know is that many things have gone wrong to the extent that the party has to put its acts together to make sure that things that are done in that way are stopped and from there, we will build the party again.
“It (Deputy President of the Senate) does not belong to them. I have been in PDP from 1999 until 2014 or so. You see, it was unthinkable in PDP for you to allow any other party to take any of those positions. They have done it five times and they never allowed any member of any party to go near those positions, so I think it was unfair and not correct and they took it shamelessly and I am sure our party will look at it and take what belongs to our party back.
“Maybe there are ways APC can accommodate the Southeast by way of appointment but certainly, we have not seen PDP in the five times that they had reasons to select leaders in the National Assembly, they never considered other parties in terms of giving them position but I am sure that our party had it in mind that it will carry the Southeast but not in the position of the Senate President.
“The Senate has Deputy Senate President; that position does not belong to the PDP and that is the mistake Ekweremadu is making. Now he said he was elected deputy Senate president, yet he reduced himself to a zone and a tribe, which is not good enough.
“We are not saying he should step down or stay; what I am saying is that what they have taken does not belong to them and all those who supported him and his party to get it have made a big mistake for themselves, the party and indeed for the country and they should be ashamed of themselves.”
Asked of the way out, Kwankwaso asked the APC leadership to enforce discipline.
He added: “I don’t know, the party must be doing its own bit but if I were the national chairman, I would either write to these members individually a letter of displeasure or call them and tell them because there has to be discipline.
“It does not matter whether you are 10 or 20 or even 1,000, whatever your number is in a party, as long as there is no discipline, definitely there will be problem. I am one of the senior senators by any standard in this country but because of the consideration of the fact that Buhari is from the Northwest, of course not from Kano, you are not seeing me going round to say I want this position or that position.
“I have president in my zone and I have to be considerate in the sense that other zones should get it. It is not like you will come by all means and you must take it whether it favours the zoning, the party or not. So, all these things must be respected by the party and the members.
On the likelihood of the Saraki reaching out to Lawan’s Unity Forum for reconciliation, Kwankwaso said: “I think it is good to have reconciliation but I am not aware of it, nobody informed me.
“I am just watching the development and, in fact, on that very day immediately after the so called election, I had to travel to Paris to receive an award . . . I learnt that some members were sworn in; well I will wait till they come back from their break.”
By Ajide Kolawole