On the surface, it appears as if Senator Olubukola Saraki and his co-traveller at the lower house, Hon Yakubu Dogara, who earlier in the week emerged as the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, respectively, through what political observers have come to identify as path of treachery must have planned the coup alone and must have acted the fast one selfsame day without any input or actions pre-dating that day other than Saraki promise to play by the rules.
Little did the undiscerning observers of the power play know that some of the APC leaders, especially, those who have succeeded in forming a ring around President Muhammadu Buhari, were party to the ploy. These ones have since been shedding crocodile tears to give an impression of their commitment to the party tenets. They did not only support Saraki and Dogara against the candidates of their party, they went as far as participating in the bribery of the PDP Senators who rallied against their candidates.
Prominent among the party leaders who encouraged their followers to vote for Saraki at the Senate and Dogara at the House of Reps, sources has revealed, is the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal. He was alleged to have had a clandestine meeting with the three senators from the state, namely Ibrahim Gobir representing Sokoto East, Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto North) and Ibrahim Abdullahi (Sokoto South) specificall instructing them to cast their vote for Saraki at the expense of the party candidate. More revelations are beginning to emerge, pointing to the fact that Saraki and Dogara were not lone runners, but were actually goaded to act against their ‘conscience’ by some forces, both internal and external to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Here is a blow-by-blow account of who did what behind the scene:
The Tinubu Angle: At the outset, the leader of APC, Ashiwaju Ahmed Tinubu showed his support for the candidacy of Senator George Akume from the same North Central geopolitical zone with Saraki as the Senate President. Akume is a known friend of Tinubu and the latter did not hide his preference for the former. However, Tinubu had to withdraw his support for George Akume at the prodding of President Muhammadu Buhari when the latter told him that Lawan was his preferred candidate. It then became a moral became a moral burden for Tinubu to communicate the decision of the president to his friend. But he eventually did and encouraged Akume to step down for Lawan, while accepting to take the deputy Senate president slot.
Initially, Akume turned down the offer, believing it was the turn of the North Central to be the Senate President, but later felt he had no option than to accept it, realising that it in other not to rock the boat of the party or tamper with the peace of the fledgling administration.
Elements from the South west: Curiously, but true, certain elements resolved to work against the interest of, not only their Leader Ashiwaju Tinubu, but also that of President Buhari. These elements were led by the threesome of Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State, Babatunde Fasola of Lagos State and Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State. Facts emerged that the three beneficiaries of Tinubu political sagacity held clandestine meetings on different occasions on how to outsmart both their master and the president, while giving maximum support to the candidacy of Saraki.
Part of their strategies was to invite some of the moneybags with financial baggages, who would want to curry the president’s favour to escape investigations, disempower Tinubu by circulating negative stories against him and thus cause a disaffection between him, Buhari and some other leaders in the APC. They also schemed their ways further into the heart of the president, impressed on him to live up to his words of to everyone and belonging to no one as a way of further boosting his soaring democratic credentials. They were also able to frame up Senator Lawan, who had been in the Senate since 2007, as a marked boy in the Upper Chamber. Trusting these his “men,” the President swallowed the bait.
At one of the meetings held in Abeokuta on Thursday June 4, 2015 the day Fashola was honoured by Babcock University, the threesome invited Aliko Dangote, Femi Otedola, Tony Elemelu and the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, to sell the Saraki candidacy to them, with assurance that he would provide the shield for any probe darts against them. Well, these business and financial moguls had no option than to key into the plan and dole out billions for its prosecution. Consequently, Fashola, Fayemi and Amosun expanded their frontier, got and sought support from the party Chairman, Chief John Oyegun and Engr. Segun Oni, to further give “credibility” to their action as well as convince the president of the need to stay away from Tinubu, who according to them, was becoming overbearing within the party. Further support were garnered for the Saraki project during the president’s German trip.
The PDP Angle: Benjamin Disraeli’s saying that “There is no act of treachery or meanness of which a political party is not capable; for in politics there is no honour” could not have found a better landing space than within the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Capitalising on his membership of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the dwindling fortune of the party of late, Senator Saraki, in the company of a co-sojourner in APC from PDP and the factional chairman of the then new PDP Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, approached his former allys, particularly the former Governor Akwa Ibom State and Senator-elect for Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, Godswill Akpabio, who helped perfect the strategy of winning other PDP Senators over the for Saraki candidacy in exchange for financial and choice position compensations. Saraki also brought in the embattled Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, with a promise of soft-landing.
Having been sold the possibility of negotiating with the pro-Saraki elements, the PDP elected senators saw it as an opportunity to get its pound of flesh from the APC. They also felt they could make some money in the process. Former Senate President David Mark was then saddled with the job getting his colleagues together for a “retreat’ in PortHarcourt, where they did not only discuss the modalities of decimating the APC Senators. The strategy included inviting some of those involved in the fuel subsidy fraud to back them financially with a promise to ensure that President Buhari would not be able to pursue their matter. Saraki was again on ground to give the assurance that as the Senate President, no such probe would see the light of day. He further assured them that those around the president were also with them in the game. They PortHarcourt meeting also resolved that in order to ward off any suspiscion, they would continue to discuss with Tinubu and other APC excos, selling them dummy that the PDP Senators would support the APC candidates for both Senate and House of Reps in order to ensure peaceful reign in both houses.
The mafia fell for the blackmail and played ball by releasing money running into billions for the execution of the Saraki-for-Senate-President project. The money, sources revealed was later shared at the Presidential suite on the 10th floor of the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja. In attendance was Dino Melaye, a Saraki faithful from APC. And in order to make it appear that their party was carried along in the scheming, the PDP Senators briefed their former Chairman, Board of Trustees, Tony Anenih and enlisted his and the entire party’s support for them to go along with the Saraki team. Anenih however advised them to still meet the Sunday night before the election to put the matter to votes in order not to betray one another. Of course the idea received a unanimous voting both as a result of the financial inducement and the joy of watching the ego of the APC deflated the following day.
Meanwhile, Tinubu later learnt of the PortHarcourt meeting and all that transpired. He challenged David Mark with facts, but Mark lied that it was all rumours and that APC should take the promise of the PDP Senators to the bank. Well, they did and the rest is now history.