Two years may have gone since Senator Bukola Saraki was elected as the President of the Nigerian Senate, but Nigerians are yet to come to grasp with the bickering and Machiavellian politics that played out in the days leading to the inauguration of the 8th Senate.
Ripples Nigeria, in a chat with different actors who played prominent roles in the exercise, can confirm that Nigerians are yet to be told the whole truth.
Our correspondent, who had a long conversation with a key player, was told how Saraki allegedly betrayed his close allies and struck a last-minute deal with senators of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to clinch the Senate Presidency seat.
The insider, who is a serving senator, also opened up on the origin of the war between Saraki and the immediate-past Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, which later claimed the latter.
He said by the design and arrangement reached by senators elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), key loyalists of Saraki were also penciled down to get away with juicy positions.
The insider told our correspondent that these loyalists, who are predominantly former governors, footed the Senate Presidency campaign of Saraki, with the hope that they will recoup their investments when elected as chairmen of juicy committees.
“Many Nigerians do not really know what happened in June, 2015,” he began. “We had series of meetings in the house of Saraki, Ahmed Yerima and Danjuma Goje, where we agreed among our faction on who will get what after the emergence of Saraki.”
Continuing, he said: “We agreed that Saraki will be the Senate President, Ndume will be the Deputy, while Yerima will be the chairman of Appropriation committee. Goje was to serve as chairman of Finance committee. Other supporters, including Dino Melaye, were promised juicy positions.
“Ndume, Yerima, Goje and others contributed millions of naira to the project. I know that Ndume contributed about N20 million since he was going to be the Deputy Senate President. Yerima was the highest donor.
“But while we were working hard to ensure that Saraki was elected, he was busy having secret meetings with PDP senators. At first, we thought the meetings were mere rumours, but we were wrong. He was protecting himself.
“We stuck out our necks for Saraki. For instance, Nigerians do not know that Saraki spent the night at the car park of the National Assembly just to avoid arrest? We advised him to come there. He got to the National Assembly in a Toyota saloon car at about 6.30pm of 8th of June, 2015.
“As early as 6am the following day, Ndume was already in the Senate chamber. He sat there and ensured that the chamber was not locked by security agents. They were under instructions to arrest Saraki. Ndume went there since the chamber cannot be locked as long as a senator is inside.”
“Saraki was smuggled into the chamber at about 8am and we formed a circle around him until the Senate was called to order. That was how we did the miracle that day.
“When it was time to elect the presiding officers, we nominated Saraki. He was elected. When it was time to elect a Deputy, we were shocked when Ike Ekweremadu was nominated. We also nominated Ndume.
“We observed from Saraki’s body language that he knew all along that Ekweremadu will emerge. We wanted to protest, but Ndume said we should not. In the end and to our surprise, Ekweremadu was elected. That was the first betrayal.
“After the whole drama, Saraki called for a meeting where he apologized. We again agreed that Ndume will be made the Senate Leader and Yerima Appropriation committee chairman. We all agreed and went home without any problem.
“But for weeks, Saraki refused to name Ndume as Senate Leader. Instead, he wanted to name Goje. We protested and he grudgingly caved in. He was actually blackmailed to do that. From day one, we knew Ndume will not last.
“When it was time to name committee chairmen, Saraki shocked all of us. He refused to name Yerima as Appropriations chairman. From then, he started fighting us. His closest friends became PDP members and they even got juicy positions. Maybe it was part of the deal Saraki had with them.
“One day, Nigerians will know the truth. But for us, we have learned our lessons. We will not repeat the mistake of 2015. Saraki is a tyrant and we did not know this. We regret electing him,” he added.
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