I’ll not step down — Saraki tackles APC
He also said the All Progressives Congress (APC) would not remove him as senate president as it does not possess the number to force him out of office, ThisDay Newspaper reports.
He made this statement while speaking to journalists in Minna, Niger State, after a visit to former military ruler, Ibrahim Babangida.
Mr Saraki’s latest visit to the former president is the second in the last one month. He had in August paid him a visit at his home town.
Prior to that, he also visited another former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Although Mr Saraki did not state the reason for his visit to Mr Babangida, it is, however, believed it has to do with his presidential ambition.
The national chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole, has repeatedly asked Mr Saraki to step down as senate president following his defection to the PDP.
A suit on the issue was also filed in the Federal High Court Abuja – a suit which the federal government asked the court to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.
The senate president had told leaders of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) at its secretariat in the state capital that the party was in the majority in the upper chamber of the National Assembly.
“They know that we are in the majority, and whatever they want to do, they know that they don’t have the number.
“One thing is clear, I will not sacrifice the interest of the country for my personal interest, and in the last three years as a senate president, I have demonstrated that my interest is second to that of national interest, I will not step down from the Senate presidency,” he said.
Mr Saraki also dismissed the call by the APC for the National Assembly to reconvene for the purpose of removing him, describing it as unnecessary and explained that since the senate was properly adjourned, it would reconvene as scheduled after its annual break.
“We did not adjourn the Senate in the dark, there was a procedure, where at the end of the session there was a vote and it was seconded that we should go on annual recess.
“So it wasn’t anything done in the secret, everybody was there. It is not that some few people met somewhere and took the decision. Everybody participated and everybody took the decision that we should adjourn for a normal annual recess.
“The date that we agreed to resume is the same date that we resumed last year and the year before, so there is nothing abnormal about the Senate adjournment,” he explained.
The lawmaker further stated that his plan was for Nigeria to be a country rooted in the rule of law and democratic process. He said the most important for him is to ensure the autonomy of the three arms of government, to allow rule of law, to ensure that we respect the democratic process.
Speaking on his political prowess in Kwara State, Mr Saraki described those opposing him as visiting politicians to the state.
“They are not with the people, after the election they will go away and then they will come back six months to election and immediately after election they will go away, that has always been their pattern of politics and the people of Kwara are not stupid, they know those who are with them, they know those who care for them.”
His host, Mr Babangida, on the other hand declared his support for Mr Saraki’s 2019 presidential bid.
The former military president said his decision to support the senate president was because his (Mr Saraki’s) late father, Olusola Saraki, was supportive of him and his administration.
“It is my turn to do what your father did to me,” he said, adding that he would treat the PDP presidential hopeful as his son. I will rightly observe that you are my son, for coming to pay a courtesy visit.
“I remember when I was still in office, I spoke with your father, Oloye Saraki, who was always providing advises on a number of things about this country.
“He always made himself available to me, to give advises and encouragement, which will move the country forward. Your visit today is historical, now it is your time and turn to come to me and I will do just that,” he said.
The former president commended Mr Saraki for his resilience as the leader of the upper chamber of the National Assembly.
“You have been able to hold the Senate together for these years. I commend you, you have my support for these three reasons you have itemised and I hope the people will listen to you,” he said.