… I Had No Hand In Ekweremadu’s Emergence, Says Saraki
SENATE President, Bukola Saraki, yesterday denied allegation that he bargained with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to sell out the position of Deputy Senate President to the party in exchange for bloc votes from PDP Senators.
Saraki opened up on the circumstances surrounding his emergence as the Senate President since Tuesday, June 9, said his party would have emerged, had members not abandoned the inauguration exercise for a meeting.
Noting that the emergence of an opposition member as Deputy Senate President was not only unfortunate but also painful, he rejected a situation where his party men would hold him responsible for what happened.
Saraki stressed that if the elections had been conducted in the House of Representatives first, a PDP member would have equally emerged Deputy Speaker as Honourable members from the All Progressives Congress (APC) were in minority as at the time the election started.
He said: “What I am saying is that PDP Senators had announced to the public that they were supporting me without meeting me. PDP as a party told the public at about 10pm Monday, June 8 that because in their own meeting, majority of their Senators had told the party that ‘this is who they are going to vote for’, they decided to agree with them.
“ So, even in their own interest strategically, they decided that since 30 of their Senators were going to vote for me anyway, the remaining had better joined and concurred.
It was not until 2am that they called us to tell us that this is what they had decided, and when they said that they had a candidate, we also told them we had a candidate in the name of Ali Ndume.
“After our meeting, it was our own thinking that after we finish the Senate President election, the two groups in APC would meet and agree on a candidate. We never in our own team thought the other group would not turn up. By the time we got to the Senate, we were 25 while PDP Senators were over 40.
“So, there was no way they would not have defeated us and that was what happened. And when people said it was a deal, I said to them that if the Clerk of the National Assembly had started the procedure in the House of Representatives first before proceeding to the Senate, it is the House of Representatives, I am sure, that would have had a Deputy Speaker from PDP.”
He added: “It was the two hours the Clerk of the National Assembly spent with us that gave the time to House members to return to the House of Reps and have enough number to prevent that kind of event.
“For any APC member, it is unfortunate that we have a PDP man as a Deputy Senate President. It is painful for any APC member. When we went through all these struggles that was not what we signed for. It is unfortunate.
It has happened, but it should be unfair to put all these blames on one side because it was a combination of our miscalculations that led some of our Senators to go to another place instead of being at the National Assembly.
“So, to suggest that it was out of desperate act to emerge, is the fact that I reject completely and those who had followed the event knew that I did not need that kind of deal to emerge and as I said, if we had had Senate elections second, Ekweremadu would not have emerged Deputy Senate President.
“The problem would have been in the House of Reps. My view is that we will see how to work with it and how we would be able to move on as a party and still push in through our agenda.”
Saraki also insisted that he never got any message to go to the International Conference Centre (ICC) for a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari. According to him, he had been notified of moves to prevent him from entering the National Assembly Complex, as a result of which he had moved earlier than expected, only to be locked out for hours before he was allowed access to the Complex.
“So, as early as 4am and 5am, I had made contingency plans that I must get into the National Assembly because the plan before was that Senators-elect should go to the Transcorp Hilton Hotel around 8 o’clock and 9am to proceed to the National Assembly.
“But I was advised that it would not be safe or secure for me to do that because some people made sure that if I did not get into the chambers, it would not be possible for me to be nominated, for the nomination to be seconded and for me to accept the nomination.
“I can tell you today that I was in the National Assembly Complex as early as 6am and I stayed in a car in the car park from 6am in the morning till quarter to 10am.
This is the truth. I stayed there and I was there with no communication whatsoever. “So, anybody who said they spoke to me to go to the ICC was not saying the truth because I did not even know what was going on.
All I was monitoring was how people were arriving the Complex. “When it was at quarter to 10am, I got information that the Clerk to the National Assembly had entered the chambers.
So, I got out of the small car I was inside, stretched myself and put on my Babanriga because I did not have it on before then. “I walked from the car park into the chambers.
That was the reason some of you would have seen that I looked very tired that morning.” Saraki said he never expected that his party members would be absent from the chambers on such an important day.