Senate President Bukola Saraki is warming up to join the race for the Presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in August, according to sources in his camp.
Hints about his presidential ambition emerged yesterday; just 24 hours after the Supreme Court cleared him of allegations of impropriety in his declaration of assets form by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC).
The news immediately threw the camps of Governor Aminu Tambuwal and Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, who are co-drivers of the R-APC with Saraki, into confusion.
Tambuwal and Kwankwaso are also interested in the PDP presidential ticket and sources said it was their primary reason for wanting to return to the party having found out that they could not wrestle the ticket from President Buhari in the APC.
Saraki, who is said to be under pressure from his supporters to vie for the ticket, has been consulting his associates, political strategists, and well-wishers in the last 24 hours.
If he consents to seek the ticket, the move is bound to alter the Reformed-All Progressives Congress(R-APC) permutations ahead of next year’s elections.
The birth of the R-APC was announced last Wednesday by some top members of the APC who claimed the party has failed to live up to expectation.
Saraki travelled to Port Harcourt, Rivers State yesterday to commission some projects executed by Governor Nyesom Wike.
The Rivers State Governor is the arrowhead of PDP’s plan to stage a comeback next year.
The governor is credited with sponsoring the election of Prince Uche Secondus as the national chairman of the PDP.
But it could not be ascertained last night if Saraki’s unfolding game-plan informed his Port Harcourt trip yesterday.
The camp of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is also said to have been taken aback by Saraki’s sudden interest in the presidential race.
A source knowledgeable about the relationship between Atiku and Saraki yesterday rated the Senate President’s latest move as an “upset and contrary to the discussion by the two leaders in a country in the Middle East.”
The source said “what was agreed upon by Saraki, Atiku and other contestants was that whoever secured the presidential ticket would be supported by all.”
But the source said Saraki “did not give any commitment to back Atiku only for the presidency.”
Investigation by our correspondent revealed that the Supreme Court verdict on Saraki played a big role in changing the permutations in the R-APC and the PDP.
Rules out continued membership of APC, support for Buhari’s re-election
Saraki, it was gathered, has ruled out remaining in APC or backing Buhari for re-election, declining persuasion by a top presidency official that he should remain in the APC.
The Senate President felt he will “not be able to have moral and emotional stamina to campaign for Buhari in view of his humiliation at the Code of Conduct Tribunal and the police on Offa robbery.”
His political family and APC supporters in Kwara State are also said to be opposed to mounting the podium for Buhari in 2018/2019 electioneering.
Investigation also showed that Friday’s ruling of the Supreme Court which cleared him of any corruption stigma was the ‘joker’ Saraki needed to rescue his political career.
“Since the pronouncement of the Supreme Court, the Senate President has become morally emboldened to rev up his presidential ambition. He has started consultations in the last 24 hours,” a source said yesterday.
“So far, the preliminary round of consultations indicate that he might participate in the presidential primaries of the PDP with some R-APC aspirants like Tambuwal and Kwankwaso.
“Initial field report and extensive survey have buoyed his confidence of winning the slot.
“With this development, Saraki will slug it out in PDP with Atiku, ex-Governor Ahmed Makarfi; ex-Minister Tanimu Turaki; ex-Governor Ibrahim Shekarau; ex-Governor Sule Lamido and others.
“Already, Saraki is done with APC going by the formation of R-APC and the defection of some of his backers and political like-minds to PDP.”
Asked why Saraki cannot stay in APC to challenge Buhari for the presidential ticket, the source added: “he believes he did not deserve the humiliation he went through at the tribunal and in the hands of the police.
“What finally made the Senate President to forsake APC was his being linked with those behind the bank robbery and killings in Offa by the Police.
“I think the police pronouncement did more damage and it was that day he drew the line with APC.
“Also, his family, relations and political supporters in Kwara State don’t want to hear anything about APC. The trauma was too much for them.”