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Why Saraki Stayed Away From Tinubu’s Birthday Colloquium

The dissension and bad blood running through the rank of top members in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) assumed another frightening dimension on Tuesday when Senate President Bukola Saraki stayed away from one of his party stalwart’s major event.

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, an APC national leader, held 8th colloquium in commemoration of his 64th birthday anniversary, and well attended by party faithfuls and stalwarts including President Muhammadu Buhari.

All eyes pried to see the number three citizen in an event that had President Buhari as the Chairman but the former Governor of Kwara State was more visible in his absence from the occasion than anything else, even when it was revealed that the Senator was informed of the programme and adequate preparation made for his attendance.

Independent was even told he was billed to deliver a paper to show Tinubu’s political sagacity and mendacity.

But to further abridge coverage of the colloquium, if not its complete blackout from some segment of the society, Saraki staged a high powered meeting with a delegation of Parliamentarians from the Republic of Colombia, led by Senator Edinson Delgado at the National Assembly, Abuja.

Not only that, Saraki is said to have refused to send congratulatory birthday message to the APC chieftain, apparently to further demonstrate that their sour relationship is irretrievable.

However, the Speaker of the House of Representatives displayed a rare political maneuvering by sending a sweetly worded birthday message to Tinubu.

Dogara too had turned down the APC’s official directives to step down for Tinubu’s anointed man, Femi Gbajabiamila in last year’s rush blood and feisty election.

Dogara’s message to Tinubu partly states, “Your feats are bold and exceptional; from business to governance and politics. As a governor, you made sweeping reforms that till date, your successors are still building on and making Lagos State proud.”

Another political leader who set aside his political differences and at least buried the hatchet for some hours was Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose. Fayose is a vitriolic critic of the current administration, which has Tinubu as his ardent protector.

In a statement signed by Idowu Adelusi, his spokesman, the tough-talking governor said, “Whether one likes it or not, Asiwaju Tinubu has become a political pillar and leader, not only in Yorubaland, but in Nigeria. He is a great politician who takes well-calculated political steps.”

Even the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, who fell out with Tinubu and wrote his defence on how he ran Lagos State for eight years allegedly making indirect reference to Tinubu as a ‘pig’ was in attendance.

Also, the president set aside his tight schedule and having to rise to condemn Tinubu’s scathing attack on the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, on the current fuel scarcity not only sent a message but attended 24 hours later.

It was this Saraki’s inability to play a smart one despite obvious moves by the Vice President, Yomi Osinbajo for some soft-landing with his case at the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCT), that left many wondering.

When Independent sought the opinion of an APC stalwart who said he cannot betray Saraki as a party member, he was disappointed that the SP failed to drop the gauntlet and outsmart Tinubu’s maverick.

“He should have attended, that is what Nigerian politicians do – you show face, surprise your political enemy, jolt him and let the butterfly run in his stomach. But SP failed to which he alone has explanations,” he said preferring not to be named.

According to him, there is the need for Nigerian politicians to grow up and see the position they occupy as service to the people and not personal estate.

“Anyone who wants to be a lord or the untouchable should go to his estate. Governance is service to humanity, it is a divine call for service. People should not take criticism or political differences personally.

“The position anyone occupies is temporarily” after all we are all wayfarers, he added. Pointing out that he attended because he needed to show solidarity and build a strong united nation and not personal aggrandisement.

Independent tried several times to obtain an official reason why the SP stayed away, from his spokesman, Sanni Onogu, he neither picked his calls nor replied short message sent to his telephone line as the time of going to press.

Saraki/Tinubu’s meltdown in relationship began last year during the election to produce the senate president.

Tinubu who was miffed and visibly angered by Saraki’s emergence used unsavoury words many considered was a declaration of war and personalisation of the political struggle. He vowed never to recognise Saraki as Senate President.

And when close associates such as the immediate past Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, Ibrahim Lamorde and Justice Umar Dalandi of CCT laid into Saraki and his wife, accusing finger started pointing in the direction of Tinubu.

Even Saraki gave vent to this assertion while being put in the dock at his first appearance at the Tribunal when he let out his concern, saying the reason why he was being tried, was because he was Senate President.

With Saraki holding on to his position and properly galvanising the APC Senate caucus, unifying APC to mount a proper challenge against an ensuing mass’ revolt and opposition parties may further create a difficult political environment. And that is the last thing the party needs with talks of 2019 gaining currency so soon.

For now, the impression is that all is not well as the past still haunt not only the two APC stalwarts but also their various followers who have queued behind them.