Buhari, APC, govs woo Saraki with juicy offers

There were strong indications that President Muhammadu Buhari, All Progressives Congress and governors are considering juicy offers for Senate President Bukola Saraki to prevent his defection to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

It was learnt that some prominent leaders of the party, especially coordinator of the reconciliation initiative, Mr Bola Tinubu, might be involved in the negotiation with Saraki.

Tinubu was said to have been briefed about the President’s interaction with Saraki and others.

But Saraki, who bowed well for the President after a meeting at Presidential Villa, was frank in expressing his mind.

He said he felt humiliated by the party he co-founded and the government he jointly put in place with others.

He was solemn in expressing his disappointment to the President and some APC governors.

Investigation conducted by our correspondent revealed that the President and some APC governors met with the Senate President as a follow-up to the talks with New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) caucus of APC being coordinated in the past few months by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

It was gathered that most APC leaders, governors and other members were unhappy that the party was on the verge of losing Saraki to PDP.

They believed that the defection of such a ‘political heavyweight’ to the opposition might affect cohesion in APC for 2019 polls.

The consequences of a depleted APC impelled some governors and party leaders to broker understanding between the President and Saraki.

A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “At least, for the first time, there was a frank session between the President and Saraki.

“He expressed disappointment with his humiliation by the government he fought hard to put in place.

“We were all sober while he relived his travails, because none of us would pray to be in such a situation.

“We understood with him but we felt it was time to forgive and forget in order to move forward.

“As part of preventing Saraki’s defection, we may offer him juicy terms including:

• Automatic return as President of Senate in 2019

• More consultation and inclusiveness in key decisions henceforth

• Mutual Executive-Legislature relationship

• Revisiting all issues raised by nPDP Caucus which formed the basis of talks in the past few months

• Reconciling with all aggrieved leaders of nPDP

• Avoiding a repeat of past mistakes which led to his humiliation

“We also appealed to Saraki to shelve moves to defect to PDP or any other party. We agreed that he has a better stake in APC than any other party.”

Asked if Saraki made any commitment, the source added: “There was none yet, but the atmosphere was cordial and hopeful.

“After the meeting, he even bowed well to the President.

“The session was the climax of talks in the past few months. As one of our leaders, we leave the final decision to Saraki to take.

“But one thing was clear from Saraki: he will want all commitments put into writing and documented in case of any breach in the future.

“To some of us who have been wooing him, such a demand is in order. It is a case of once bitten, twice shy.”

Responding to a question, the source said: “The final stage of talks with Saraki will still involve some of our leaders, like Tinubu who is coordinating the reconciliation in the party.

“In fact, Tinubu has been briefed on the outcome of the meeting at the Villa and why he has to play a key role too.”

Some of the major complaints on nPDP are:

• Grudges on the conduct of state congresses

• Alleged refusal of the party leadership to stamp its feet on parallel congresses in some states

• In the constitution of Federal Executive Council, (FEC) New PDP block was generally sidelined as virtually no position was conceded to it. The only member of FEC that belonged to former New PDP block comes from a state that contributed virtually no vote to the APC in 2015 presidential election.

• There has been no significant patronage and appointments to executive positions in various government agencies such as Chief Executives and Executive Directors of government agencies and parastatals as members of our block of the party continue to helplessly watch as these positions are shared by the erstwhile CPC, ACN, ANPP and even APGA blocks of the party and those who have no party at all.

• In appointments into boards of various government agencies, very few former New PDP members were patronised. These are, however, not commensurate with our contributions to the growth and victory of the party.

• When members of the former New PDP block showed interest in running for the offices of President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives, they were subjected to a vicious and relentless political opposition as if they were not legitimate members of the APC family.

• During the party primaries preparatory to the 2015 general elections, most of the promises made to sitting members of the National Assembly, who belonged to the former new PDP in terms of a level playing field were reneged upon or observed more in breach.

• There has been general lack of consultation, non-recognition and even persecution of former New PDP members and leaders by the party and government. For example, some of our leaders are denied the security cover necessary to visit their constituencies even though they are elected representatives of the people in a government they sacrificed so much for.

• Harassment, intimidation and persecution of former New PDP leaders by the government is still an ongoing affair. We do not want to overstate the obvious by cataloguing names of former new PDP stalwarts that are targets of this political pogrom.

The Nation

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