A source at the Presidency has revealed that Senator Bukola Saraki misled President Muhammad Buhari into believing that he was welcome to help broker a solution to a crisis rocking the APC over the choice of the party’s candidates for top legislative posts in the National Assembly, including President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The APC had chosen Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila as their candidates for the Senate Presidency and Speaker slots respectively.
But in a stunning move, Saraki was on Tuesday morning elected as President of the Senate after he garnered the block support of the PDP and some APC senators who broke rank with their party.
In a similar vein, PDP members in the House of Reps threw their block votes behind Yakubu Dogara, and thus elected him as Speaker over the APC-endorsed Gbajabiamila.
SR presidency source accused Saraki, who had earlier shunned a meeting with Vice Present Yemi Osibanjo, of inviting President Buhari to intervene in the widening internal schism within the APC. In refusing to attend an earlier peace meeting with the vice president, Mr. Saraki had reportedly fumed that he could not be summoned to a meeting by a mere commissioner, a comment he later denied making.
Soon after Buhari arrived in Abuja early on Tuesday, he invited all APC legislators to a meeting with him at the International Conference Center at 9 a.m. “Senator Saraki assured the president that he would attend the meeting,” said the source.
According to the source, Saraki instead “held a marathon meeting with members of the People Democratic Party to cement their support for him.”
The Senator Ahmed Lawan faction of the APC awoke to news of the PDP’s endorsement of Saraki. Even so, they still headed for the 9am meeting called by President Buhari. They were waiting for the presidential parley when Senator Saraki and some other “rebel” senators of the APC moved into the National Assembly complex, where the police had thrown a cordon to prevent workers and reporters from entering, for the “election” of principal officers.
While lawmakers loyal to Lawan and Gbajabiamila waited for President Buhari to arrive, word reached the president that Saraki had been “elected” as Senate President.
“Mr. President felt deceived by Bukola Saraki. That’s why he did not bother to attend the meeting.”
Mr. Saraki and his cohorts also ignored the protocol for the president’s formal proclamation for the inauguration of the National Assembly, a source close to Saraki said they relied on a letter written by Buhari asking them to be inaugurated.
Instead, 57 senators loyal to Saraki, most of them PDP members, unanimously “elected” Saraki after he was nominated by Senators Dino Melaye and Sanni Yerima. The rebelling APC Senators worked overnight to produced new rules for the elections with the help of former Senate President, David Mark. Senator Mark was pronounced as “Senate Leader”.
Mr. Saraki was quickly sworn-in as the new Senate President even as his APC colleagues were at the ICC waiting for President Buhari to address them.