Senate President Bukola Saraki
Senate President Bukola Saraki says he is paying the price for what he calls “the original sin” – opposing the choice of a Muslim-Muslim ticket by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2015 presidential election.
Saraki, in an article published in THISDAY, The Saturday Newspaper, denied that he fell out with his party for striking a deal with the PDP to win the senate presidency in June 2015 as alleged by celebrity journalist and Ovation publisher, Dele Momodu.
The senate president, who is currently facing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on allegations of false declaration of assets, said: “Most people talk about the Senate Presidency position, but this was not my only offence.
“I have also been accused of helping to frustrate some people’s opportunity to emerge as President Muhammadu Buhari’s running mate. But I have no problem with anybody.”
His reference to Muslim-Muslim ticket is believed to be an allusion to former Lagos governor Bola Tinubu, a Muslim, who reportedly wanted to be running mate to Buhari before Yemi Osinbajo, a pastor, was picked.
Saraki, also a Muslim, said it was not going to be politically smart to field an all-Muslim ticket.
“My concern was that it would not be politically smart of us to run with a Muslim-Muslim ticket. I doubt if we would have won the election if we had done this, especially after the PDP had successfully framed us a Muslim party. I felt we were no longer in 1993,” he said.
“Perhaps, more than ever before, Nigerians are more sensitive to issues of religious balancing. This… was my original sin. What they say to themselves, among other things, was that if he could conspire against our ambition, then he must not realize his own ambition as well.
“For me however, I have no regrets about this. I only stood for what I believed was in the best interest of the party and in the best interest of Nigeria.”
In 1993, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) fielded a Muslim-Muslim ticket featuring MKO Abiola and Baba Gana Kingibe and was believed to have won the presidential election, although the announcement of results was stopped midway and annulled by the military government.