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Sunday, June 28, 2015

I dropped my presidential ambition for Buhari — Saraki

SARAKI
The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has denied reports that he is nursing the ambition for presidency in 2019, saying he actually quit his presidential bid in the 2015 election for President Muhammadu Buhari.

Saraki stated that he contributed immensely to the emergence of Buhari as President and contributed greatly to his victory in the presidential election held on March 28, 2015.

The Senate President, who spoke to select journalists in an exclusive interview in Abuja on Saturday, also denied having plans to dump the All Progressives Congress due to the ongoing crisis in the party over his leadership of the Senate.

Rather, he said what remained paramount in his mind at the moment was how to support the Buhari-led administration to tackle the various social and economic problems confronting the country.

Saraki said, “I was the first person that stepped down his political ambition, once General Buhari announced that he was going to contest the presidential election. And since then, prior to the period of election, I worked tirelessly to support his emergence.

“Even some of my friends who are not supporting me now are doing so because I did not support them in their presidential ambition and that I supported President Buhari. That is why I find it funny that the same people are now claiming to love Buhari more than me. It is a very funny world.

“These are people that I was begging to leave the stage for Buhari to run since all of us are young. They are now the one going round to say that Saraki did not like Buhari but time will tell.”

The Presidency, however, faulted Saraki’s claim of stepping down for Buhari ahead of the presidential election.

Saraki had on October 13, 2014, announced the suspension of his presidential bid in the interest of the country and his party. He, however, did not state which of the other aspirants he was going to back.

Saraki’s statement then partly read, “I decided to step down my ambition because Nigeria’s political outlook for 2015 is very complicated and this is the time for every patriotic politician to situate his personal ambition in the context of the country’s overall interest.

“I don’t think our party can afford too much internal rancour going into next year’s election. I, therefore, think some of us need to make the sacrifice and be part of the solution rather than part of the problem of the party.”

This will be Saraki’s first personal response to the ongoing crisis that is trailing his controversial emergence as the President of the Senate on June 9.

Saraki had led a faction of APC senators, under the auspices of the Like Minds Senators, to defy the party’s choice of Ahmad Lawan as the Senate President.

In what many have described as a ‘coup’, the pro-Saraki group had allied with the opposition lawmakers in the Peoples Democratic Party to make Saraki leader of the upper chamber of the legislature in the absence over 50 APC senators.

A similar scenario had also played out in the House of Representatives where Yakubu Dogara opposed Femi Gbajabiamila, the choice candidate of his party, to emerge Speaker of the House.

Explaining what happened on the National Assembly leadership election day, Saraki said he smuggled himself into the chamber on the day the 8th Assembly was inaugurated when he became aware of an alleged plan to abduct and prevent him from standing for the Senate presidential election

The Senate President also defended his absence from the International Conference Centre venue of a proposed meeting between President Buhari and APC lawmakers on the day of the election.

He insisted that he did not receive any invitation for the meeting.

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