Former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, says his opposition to the planned Muslim-Muslim presidency on Nigeria in 2014, was entirely done in national interest with the belief that Nigeria is bigger than anybody’s ambition, including that of Bola Tinubu.
Saraki was responding to Tinubu’s remarks in Abeokuta, Ogun State, on Thursday.
The former Lagos State governor and one of the presidential aspirants of the All Progressives Congress (APC), had claimed that Saraki opposed his desire to be running mate to President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2015 elections because he felt it would affect his ambition as Senate President.
“Buhari asked me to be his running mate, but Saraki campaigned against a Muslim-Muslim ticket. He felt it would affect his ambition to be senate president. The senate president could not be a Muslim as well. They rose against it…”, Tinubu alleged.
Responding on Friday in a statement signed by Yusuph Olaniyonu, the head of his Media Office, Saraki stressed that he would oppose any plan that would cause a religious crisis in a multi-religious country like Nigeria.
“When other leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and I stood against having a Muslim-Muslim ticket in 2014, it was not a decision targeted at any individual or group, but one taken in the national interest. Tinubu knows this and he is just being mischievous by presenting this decision as something aimed at stopping his ambition.
“Let me make it clear that the decision to oppose the plans by some people to make APC present a Muslim-Muslim ticket in 2015 was in the national interest and I will take the same stand today, tomorrow and any other day. My stance is based on the fact that such a ticket is not good for the unity of the country and will further accentuate one of our fault lines”, he said.
But Tinubu has responded that his speech in Abeokuta was erroneously interpreted.
The Director, Media and Communications, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu Presidential Campaign Organisation, Bayo Onanuga, appealed to the media to avoid over- sensationalising issues of facts and play its constitutional role of informing the electorate to make informed choices at elections.
The statement reads: “Tinubu’s speech in Abeokuta did not demonstrate any disrespect to President Buhari, for whom he has a very high regard, and whose re-election campaign he chaired in 2019.”
“In his (Tinubu) effort to convince the party delegates to vote for him at the primaries, he went down memory lane to provide specific instances when he brought his political clout and strategic skills to assist individuals, groups and tendencies in the party to gain political power. These factual references are already in the public realm. They have been reported and analysed in the media in the last eight years.”
According to the campaign organisation, the thrust of Tinubu’s presentation was that his huge contribution to the formation and electoral success of the APC should count in his favour as a true party man who desires to be the flag bearer.