The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is now facing a serious political upheaval as a result of the on-going trial of the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) for alleged falsification of assets declaration.
Another issue that is also causing division in the party is the hustle for control of power in 2019 by some elements in the party, coupled with perceived marginalisation of the members of the New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) by the APC.
With the call by the Transition Monitoring Group and other organisations for the resignation of Saraki and moves to replace him, not a few politicians are said to be aligning with Senator David Mark as an option, especially as President Muhammadu Buhari has allegedly told APC leadership that he does not care about who emerges as Senate President.
Sunday Telegraph reports that the trial of the Senate boss has created cracks and divisions in the ranks of the APC both in the Senate and at the level of the leadership, thereby producing what can be described as pro and anti Saraki camps.
The pro Saraki group is made up of APC Senators and other members of the party, who are doggedly supporting Saraki in the face of his present political ordeal, occasioned by his occupation of the Senate Presidential seat, against the party’s decision. The anti Saraki elements are the members of the party, within and outside the Senate, who are against him in tandem with the position of the APC’s National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who is yet to forgive Saraki for working against the party’s arrangement in the election of the National Assembly leadership last year and want him out of the office by all means.
Sunday Telegraph learnt that members of the New PDP in APC, where Saraki belongs, out of frustration, have started aligning with the PDP to defeat the APC in the event that Saraki is compelled to vacate office through the impending judgment of the CCT.
According to sources, the New PDP is of the view that allowing Saraki to go indicates the determination of the APC power brokers to sacrifice him, not minding how much the decision would negatively affect the political future and fortunes of the party in the country.
New Telegraph’s inquiries further revealed that Saraki’s ordeal has compelled the various political entities that fused to form the APC, to begin to question the domineering posture of the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) in the power configuration of the present administration. President Buhari contested the presidential election in 2011 on the platform of the CPC, which he failed, and told Nigerians that it would be his last attempt at aspiring to rule Nigeria; before his party teamed up with others to form the APC, which ultimately wrestled power from the PDP last year.
Sources close to the APC said that elements of the New PDP in APC were highly enraged that members of the defunct CPC in the new alliance, who are mainly the people at the centre of this administration, are on a tactical move to engulf and send them into political oblivion in the power equation in the country.
The New PDP is also angry, according to our sources, over what they considered as the continuous harassment, intimidation and humiliation of Senator Saraki, whom they described as one of the formidable forces that took power off the grip of the PDP in the last general elections.
According to Saraki loyalists, he was used to weaken the former ruling party by persuading many Senators and governors to pull out of the PDP in 2013 to join the now ruling APC. Former governors of Gombe, Zamfara and Nasarawa states, Senators Danjuma Goje, Ahmed Sani and Abdullahi Adamu, respectively, were amongst those that worked with Saraki to break away from the PDP in the Senate.
Sunday Telegraph learnt that the desperate attempt to use the CCT to humiliate Saraki out of office will definitely boomerang, as the APC might be on its way out of power soon as the ripple effects of such development will also negatively affect the fortunes of the party in future elections.
Former Governor of Kano State, Senator Musa Rabiu Kwankwaso, and others who joined the APC from the PDP, are seen to be targets for political victimisation by the Buhari led government in their respective states Our correspondent, however, learnt that they were not folding their arms, as they were said to be realigning the PDP to fashion a way out and, perhaps, engineer the downfall of the APC in 2019. Meanwhile, a chieftain of the APC closed to Senator Saraki, yesterday, revealed that the Senate President would rather go down than kowtow the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Senator Tinubu.
According to the political associate of Saraki, who preferred anonymity, the Senate President was the only APC chieftain who never revered Tinubu in APC and believes he has no reason to revere the APC leader. The source stated that Tinubu’s grudge against Saraki was not that he (Saraki) went against his position on the Senate Presidency, but that he (Saraki) does not accord him the respect other APC chieftains’ accord to him. According to the source, Saraki believes that he has the same political credentials if not more as Tinubu and therefore does not see any reason why he should defer to him.
The source pointed out: “Saraki was governor of Kwara State for eight years just the same way Tinubu was in Lagos and he is also a senator just the way Tinubu was. Saraki controls Kwara State politics just as Tinubu controls Lagos State”. The source further explained that Tinubu believes that if Saraki was not checked and is allowed to have his way in the party, he (Saraki) might become the rallying point in the party ahead of 2019 elections
But Tinubu’s camp may not be enjoying the support of President Buhari in all his political interest. One such political interest is the return of former Ogun State governor, Chief Segun Osoba, to APC and the alleged plan to hand over to him the headship of the party by Tinubu. This new political permutation in Ogun State according some party members is not going well with the governor, Senator Ibukunle Amosun who enjoys the supports of Buhari. President Buhari is said to be trying to build another political support in the South-West that would counter the activities and interest of Tinubu in the geo-political zone, a source at the APC National Secretariat stated.
Meanwhile, the Office of the President of the Senate, yesterday, claimed that it had uncovered plots by some politicians to sponsor anti-Saraki protests across the country. According to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President of the Senate, Yusuf Olaniyonu, the alleged protest marches and demonstrations was intended to give some hired people placards to disturb public peace. Saraki’s office stated that sponsors of the proposed protest marches were seeking to forcefully mobilise and pollute public opinion against the embattled President of the Senate.
The statement reads: “As part of their plan, they are already distributing money and other materials to some faceless civil society organisations, market men and women associations and other shadowy groups with a view to instigate demonstrations in Lagos, Abuja and Ilorin starting from Monday, April 11. “They believe that the on-going trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal provides them the opportunity to stampede Dr. Saraki out of office so that their defeated objective of getting their lackey into the office of Senate President will be realised.
This is another desperate move by these spineless politicians to achieve through the back door what they failed to realise on the floor of the Senate. “We are alerting members of the public to the antics of these desperate politicians which may result into breach of public peace, order and health. Dr. Saraki is a peace-loving and law abiding politician.
“The trial at the CCT is just beginning and while the prosecution’s witness has started giving evidence, he is yet to be crossexamined by the defence team. The defence has also not opened its own case. We urge members of the public to patiently wait for the conclusion of the case. “Since the fundamental principle of our legal system is that an accused person is presumed innocent until he is found guilty, Dr. Saraki will not allow any distraction to take him away from his responsibility as President of the Senate and Chairman of the National Assembly.”