Bukola Saraki mulls running against Muhammadu Buhari in presidential poll

Bukola Saraki

NIGERIAN Senate president Bukola Saraki is considering running against President Muhammadu Buhari when Nigeria holds elections in February.

‘I am consulting and actively considering it,’ Saraki said on Tuesday in an interview at his home in the capital, Abuja. ‘I believe I can make the change.’

After recently defecting from the ruling All Progressives Congress, Saraki said that if he decided to run, it would be under the banner of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party. He would need to win the party’s ticket during primary elections in October.

At odds with Buhari ever since he emerged as the Senate leader against the president’s wishes in 2015, Saraki is a former member of the PDP who, despite joining the APC, often went against the party line.

His defection back to the PDP in July came amid a wave of such departures from the APC, including dozens of senators and at least two state governors. After security operatives surrounded Saraki’s in July for undisclosed reasons, the secret police temporarily blocked access to the National Assembly on August 7, in what Saraki said was an illegal attempt to impeach him. The head of the State Security Services was dismissed over the deployment.

Confidence lost

‘If a government can go and lock up an arm of government — and it’s never happened in our history — we should all be very concerned,’ Saraki said. ‘We should not be surprised that they would use security agencies for elections,’ he told Bloomberg.

Investors and citizens have lost confidence in the president, according to Saraki, the nation’s third-highest-ranking official after Buhari and his deputy. Buhari’s election victory in 2015, which marked the first time an opposition party won power at the ballot box and put an end to 16 years of PDP rule, came after he pledged to fix the economy, improve security and fight corruption in Africa’s most populous nation of almost 200-million inhabitants.

While Buhari’s administration has raised record amounts of money in oversubscribed eurobond sales and increased revenue to boost investments in roads, rail, ports and power, poverty remains widespread in Nigeria and the nation is still dealing with deadly violence in several regions.

To win the PDP ticket at the party’s primaries on October 5 and 6, Saraki would need to beat another presidential aspirant, former vice-president Atiku Abubakar, who also defected from the APC in 2017.

Saraki said Nigeria needed to be governed by a genuinely pro-business administration that would be able to tackle recurrent security issues.




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