Guardian, Nigeria: Nigerian Senate president and 2019 presidential hopeful Bukola Saraki has said his position in the National Assembly is in the national interest, saying he will not step down until his term runs out.
Saraki had been under fire by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to resign as Senate president since he left the party to join the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on August 1.
National chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole has consistently asked Saraki to step down as Senate president following his defection to the PDP.
“Saraki must vacate the position of Senate president as a matter of honour,” the APC chairman said.
“If he does not choose the path of honour he will be democratically removed as the president of the Senate. I am emphasing logic and political morality plus law.”
Oshiomhole claimed that it was unacceptable in any democracy for a minority party to provide leadership to govern the majority.
But, Saraki, who spoke to journalists during his visit to a former military ruler, Ibrahim Babangida in, in Minna, Niger State, said the APC lack the numbers to remove him as Senate president.
“One thing is clear, I will not sacrifice the interest of the country for my personal interest, and in the last three years as a senate president, I have demonstrated that my interest is second to that of national interest, I will not step down from the Senate presidency,” Saraki said.
“They know that we are in the majority, and whatever they want to do, they know that they don’t have the number.”
Saraki described the call for the National Assembly to reconvene for the purpose of removing him as unnecessary, stating that the Senate was properly adjourned and would reconvene as scheduled after its annual break.
“We did not adjourn the Senate in the dark, there was a procedure, where at the end of the session there was a vote and it was seconded that we should go on annual recess.”
“So it wasn’t anything done in the secret, everybody was there. It is not that some few people met somewhere and took the decision. Everybody participated and everybody took the decision that we should adjourn for a normal annual recess.
“The date that we agreed to resume is the same date that we resumed last year and the year before, so there is nothing abnormal about the Senate adjournment,” Saraki explained.
The lawmaker, who is also in the race for PDP’s presidential ticket said, his plan for Nigeria was to be a country rooted in the rule of law and democratic process.
He said the most important for him is to ensure the autonomy of the three arms of government, to allow rule of law, to ensure that we respect the democratic process.
Speaking on his political prowess in Kwara State, Mr Saraki described those opposing him as visiting politicians to the state.
“They are not with the people, after the election they will go away and then they will come back six months to election and immediately after election they will go away, that has always been their pattern of politics and the people of Kwara are not stupid, they know those who are with them, they know those who care for them,” Saraki said.
Nigeria’s former military ruler, Ibrahim Babangida, declared his support for Saraki’s 2019 presidential bid.
The former military ruler said his decision to support the Senate president was because his late father, Olusola Saraki, was supportive of him and his administration.
“It is my turn to do what your father did to me,” he said, adding that he would treat the PDP presidential hopeful as his son. I will rightly observe that you are my son, for coming to pay a courtesy visit,” Babangida said.