By Mumini Abdulkareem
From the Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, came one of the most anticipated responses about his political ambition as he hinted on the possibility of contesting the 2019 presidential race.
Saraki’s eventual entry to challenge President Muhammadu Buhari for the ticket under the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will seriously alter the political narratives for next year’s election.
The Senate President is expected to contest the sole ticket of the PDP with other party bigwigs like the former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, who also defected from the All Progressives Congress (APC), among other leaders.
The PDP had reportedly zoned the presidential ticket to the north.
Saraki was said to have dropped the hint on his 2019 ambition during an interview with Bloomberg at his Abuja residence on Tuesday.
The Senate President who visited ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo this week and former military president, Ibrahim Babangida last week in what reports claimed were not unconnected with his ambition noted that he can make the change“ to put the country on the right track.
Saraki however acknowledged he would need to win the ticket of the PDP first to actualise his objective of leading the country.
The former Kwara State governor had accused the APC of not managing its victory well adding that PDP had learnt more from its defeat than the ruling party following its victory in 2015.
He said his discussion with the opposition party to do things differently and better were listed and agreed upon adding that PDP has a good opportunity to lead the country in the right direction.
“I am consulting and actively considering it… I believe I can make the change”, he added.
“While negotiating with the PDP, we listed a number of issues. We talked about how to sustain and improve the fight against corruption; the issue of providing more powers to the states; inclusion and having a more nationalistic approach on things we do; to continue to improve the environment that will ensure investments. We listed a number of items during the discussions with the PDP, and there is a written agreement to that. We trust that we can hold them to that.
“We would ensure that the party is strong on security. The APC too have not done well on the issue of security. We have the opportunity with the right kind of presidential candidate and president to provide the leadership for the party. The party has a good opportunity to lead the country in the right direction.”
On the blockade of the National Assembly by the Department of State Services (DSS), Saraki said such action was a dangerous signal to next year’s elections.
“If a government can go and lock up an arm of government — and it’s never happened in our history — we should all be very concerned… we should not be surprised that they would use security agencies for elections.
“There has been a persistent disregard for due process and a lack of neutrality for some of these issues. For you to have credible elections, you must have safe elections. Security agencies are actively getting involved in the politics.
“The fundamental of whatever we are going to develop is going to be based on sound democracy, credible elections, freedom of choice of Nigerians. If we don’t have that as a foundation, then everything else cannot happen”, he added.
Saraki alleged that investors have lost confidence in the Buhari government, criticising the current administration’s handling of fuel subsidy.
“Most of the inflows that have come in are merely hot money, and that is because the oil price has gone up. Investment in the real sector is not seen. The private sector, in my view, has probably taken a position that the confidence is not there in the government. The country requires a government that is truly pro-business, and a president that sees himself as a chief marketing officer.
“If we are going to have a subsidy, we should have a budget for subsidy. Because once we have a budget for it, the private sector can also play a role in the importation of petroleum products. And if the private sector plays a role, definitely the cost of the subsidy will go down and there will be more efficiency in the delivery of products. But in the environment we are in today, where it’s only the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation that’s doing that, it’s going to be inefficient, it’s not going to be transparent”, he submitted.
…Prophet Ayodele discloses who wins poll
A renowned seer, Primate Elijah Babatunde Ayodele, has warned that Nigeria is on the brink of disintegration as the nation gears towards the 2019 general elections.
Ayodele, who is the founder of INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church, warned that the ‘political coup’ being allegedly hatched by politicians over the raging National Assembly crisis may lead to the collapse of democracy in Nigeria.
He predicted that the 2019 general elections will be tougher than the 2015 polls, saying he foresees a storm ahead of next year’s election.
The clergyman predicted that embattled Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki will win the presidential election if he grabs the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Ayodele spoke on Wednesday in his native Ikere-Ekiti at an empowerment programme he organised in memory of his late father, Elder Olalekan Oluwadare Ayodele, who passed on 15 years ago.
Ayodele also advised Ekiti State governor-elect, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, to listen to the people for him to succeed in his administration.
He advised Fayemi to carry the people along in his day-to-day running of the government, promising to be part of the people to checkmate the governor-elect when his regime takes off.
Ayodele advised the All Progressives Congress (APC) to put its house in order in Osun State to achieve victory at the September 22 governorship election.
He said the Osun APC has the “right candidate” adding that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has to take lots of drastic action before making headway.
Commenting on the state of the nation, Ayodele said: “We need somebody to restructure this country; it is either we restructure or we disintegrate. The government in power hates the truth.”
On the National Assembly crisis, he said: “Whatever they are doing in the Senate or in government that is their own problem.
“I had said that nobody can remove Saraki, I don’t know Saraki, I have not met Saraki and I don’t know Akpabio. The issue of Saraki, I am not interested because I am not a politician.
“Who is that politician that is not corrupt and who is that politician that does not steal money? Saraki is one of the anointed persons in this country. I don’t see Atiku going too far.”
“I am not defending Saraki but if Saraki is removed, PDP will sink and if PDP wants to move forward and Saraki have the ticket, PDP will win.”