Tinubu, who has not hidden his disapproval of Saraki’s actions that disrupted the APC’s plans concerning headship of the National Assembly, pointedly accused Saraki of being indisciplined, disloyal and a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in soul.
Saraki, on his part, pointed out that Tinubu, with whom he said he has not had communications since his emergence as Senate President, could not claim to be the only one who contributed to the emergence of the APC as the ruling party at the centre, insisting that no one could influence his decision to carry out a thorough screening of the ministerial nominees.
The newspaper report that provoked the exchange alleged that Tinubu was conspiring with Saraki because of his (Tinubu’s) alleged disapproval of some of those nominated as ministers by the President.The report also said that Tinubu had been placed under security watch as a result of the alleged conspiracy.
In a statement by his spokesman, Sunday Dare, Asiwaju Tinubu said he could not conspire with Saraki.
According to him: “It was a crass act of disloyalty showing that Saraki may have joined the APC on paper but has remained true to the malpractices and wrong aims of the reactionary PDP in his soul.
“If this nation is to have more than a fleeting chance of escaping the quagmire into which years of PDP misrule have taken us, we cannot allow these regressive elements to deploy their cunning tricks to divide and pit progressives against progressives.
“In our journey to national betterment, plans and policies will be made, then amended. Mistakes will occur and then be corrected. Achievements will be had and replicated. Through it all, Asiwaju will remain true to the progressive ideals that fuelled the creation of the APC. He has devoted his political life to achieve what has been achieved. His heart is too much of the people and his mind too fixed on establishing a positive historic legacy to suffer such a cynical policy or engage in the destructive pettiness of which he is accused.
“The alleged conspiracy is a figment. It takes at least two people to make a conspiracy. There has been no substantive communication between Asiwaju and Saraki since the latter decided to foul the integrity of the Senate and the party. To be truthful, I don’t think Saraki would care to hear what Asiwaju would have to say to him. He would admonish the Senator to treat the nomination process with dispatch, justice, fairness, transparency, and most of all with the greatest patriotism.
“He would counsel Saraki to shelve his personal situation for the moment to concentrate on the people’s business. It would be a grave mistake and abuse of office for Saraki to directly or indirectly inject his personal matter into the approval process. Saraki should not link the approval of a single minister to his desire for extra-judicial treatment of his issues.
“Other than voice this encouragement, Bola Tinubu will never say a negative word or lift a finger to forestall anyone’s approval before the Senate. For the record, the Buhari Presidency was brought to life by the votes of millions of Nigerians who desire change. Such a collective and historic achievement is not one that anyone who worked to bring it to life would easily seek to de-construct.
“If adhering to the decisions of the party, supporting the government’s progressive plank and working for the good of the people qualifies Tinubu for surveillance, then he will accept that.
“However, we know that any such surveillance is not from state security organs. Such activity would come from the insecurity agencies of the PDP and its mercenary allies elsewhere who would seek to fragment the true core of the APC so that they may scuttle the Buhari reform programme and return the nation to the misgovernance of the past. They hope to delude the APC into attacking itself. By so doing, they believe they can regain through stealth, the reins of government the people seized from them through elections. They seek to break the hearts and hopes of the people. Asiwaju Tinubu would never team with anyone to gain such an inhumane objective…
“Those who midwifed this garish tale gave birth not to truth but to lies intended to kill APC unity and to retard the Buhari administration’s strategic reform initiatives, as earlier outlined by our party manifesto. Given the potential for change that stands before us, we are now beginning to see the true nature of many people. There are those who truly want positive change so that we can break from the ways of a stolid past. Then there are those who speak of change with their mouths but never believe in it in their hearts. They came along with us for the ride or because no other political option availed itself at the operative time. Now given the chance to redeem themselves from their past political actions, they would rather return to the political morass from whence they came.
“Here, I will do those who inhabit the shadows of untruth a favour. I will state explicitly what they hoped to get the reader to infer. Their claim is that Tinubu has joined with Saraki to scuttle the President’s ministerial nominations. They have misfired.
“Their wrong is a great wrong. Like the rest of us, Asiwaju Tinubu waited for the President to select his cabinet. The majority of the selections have been made. There is nothing to do but congratulate the appointees and pray for them. Their responsibilities are vast, the future of the nation now rests on their shoulders. The challenges before them are manifold and daunting. Those who want the best for Nigeria can only hope that these people succeed. The only intervention that Asiwaju Tinubu would make is one of encouragement. He would charge them to remain true to the progressive vision of the party and our President.”
Senator Saraki, reacting to Tinubu’s statement through his spokesman, Yusuf Olaniyonu, said there was no basis for the allegations.
Saraki said: “I saw the statement said to be issued by Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu over a story published by a national daily. I have decided not to join issues with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. However, I know that most Nigerians are aware that there has been no meeting or communication between me and Asiwaju Tinubu since I was elected Senate President. Therefore, I do not see any basis for a newspaper to report that we are both plotting to oppose the President.
“I recognise Tinubu as one of the leaders of the APC who contributed so much to the victory of the party in the last election. Some other people also contributed and I believe the collective efforts made it possible for the first time in the history of our country for an opposition party to win the general elections.
“Let me state clearly that I remain a committed member of the APC and will do all in my powers to ensure the party fulfill its promises to bring positive changes into the country.
“Since my election as Senate President, my focus and efforts have been devoted to doing the job that I was elected to do by my constituents and my colleagues in the Senate. Twice, my colleagues have confirmed their support for me as the primus inter pares in the Senate.
“As I said in my speech when we resumed from our recess late September and in Ikenne over the weekend, the screening of ministerial nominees will be handled by me and my colleagues with all sense of responsibility and in adherence to the provision of the constitution. We will be fair to all and be guided by the interest of Nigeria. The screening will be devoid of sentiment and it is not an opportunity for anybody to settle scores. We are equally eager for us to make a positive difference in our polity and Nigerians will be able to judge us whether we acted in their best interest or not.”
The Presidency has also said, through Garba Shehu, that relations between the President and Asiwaju Tinubu were still cordial and that there was no security surveillance of the party chief.