Nigeria’s Senate President, Bukola Saraki, in a leaked audio clip vowed that Kwara State will never take instructions from any political leader in Lagos State.
The senate president said this while addressing party members in his native Kwara State recently.
Mr Saraki spoke largely in Yoruba in the leaked audio clip, ostensibly recorded while appealing to young Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members in Kwara State.
The audio tape, recorded for about 33 minutes, has since gone viral across social media platforms.
Kayode Ogundamisi, blogger and social commentator, first posted the audio via his verified Twitter handle.
In the audio, Mr Saraki, who defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the opposition PDP few months ago, said he benefited little from his membership of the ruling party.
Mr. Saraki alleged that during the campaign for President Muhammadu Buhari’s election, out of the 36 states of the federation, he paid money running into over a billion naira for election logistics in 30 states.
In the same audio recording, Mr Saraki threw jabs at APC national leader, Bola Tinubu, by pledging to protect Kwara from the grip of godfathers in Lagos. Although the former Kwara governor did not specifically mention the name of the Lagos-based APC leader, his words were punctured with anti-Tinubu rhetoric from his supporters.
The senate president said if he remains the only member of the opposition PDP, he would ensure that he resists the ‘invasion’ of Kwara by Lagos godfathers. He also alleged that he is being persecuted despite helping Mr Buhari win election.
“If you don’t even want Bukola, bring someone from Kwara and empower him,” he said. “I know you young people are ‘sharp’. Today, there is none in APC (‘empowered’ by government). Instead, they want you––they want us––to be going to Lagos to get instructions. If I am the only one that remains in this party (PDP), I will remain and fight to the last. That’s why I said there is so much to say tonight because the politics our fathers left behind brought Kwara to the position it is today.
“During their time, Kwara was ranked in the top ten; and I know where we have brought Kwara today, whether in APC or in PDP. If you talk about Nigerian politics, Kwara ranks top. For anyone to tell us to leave our number one position and be going to Lagos to take instruction? Don’t allow anyone (to) fool you.”
This statement was particularly punctuated by voices of the crowd, claiming they would not pay allegiance to Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State and APC national leader.
“We would not forfeit our number one position for someone that will be going to Lagos to receive instructions,” Mr Saraki replied. “Never! It cannot happen. We are the ones that will repair these things ourselves.”
Mr Saraki also attributed the alleged suffering of Kwara residents to Mr Buhari’s government’s resolve to sideline him in the scheme of things and sharing of ‘appointments’. The senate president suggested that when former senate president David Mark held sway, the practice was markedly different, adding that it would have been better if out of ten appointments that came through the national assembly, he was ‘honoured’ with at least three.
“That’s why we said we are not going to remain in APC,” he told the crowd. “From the first day that we defected to PDP, what were we called? National leader. We finished that and we said we wanted to be president, God said it wasn’t time. We finished elections on Saturday and by Monday, Atiku had got in touch saying, ‘This presidential campaign, you remain the only capable hand’… meaning that we should come together to support the incoming government (of Atiku). Or you don’t get my point?”
“I know it’s been uneasy for all of you but this coming one will be different. The signs are here already because this is a party that recognises Kwara in the scheme of things by making the state to head the campaign.”
Though they both worked for the success of the APC in the 2015 elections, Messrs Saraki and Tinubu have been at loggerheads. Shortly after the election, Mr Tinubu showed preference for a different candidate for the position of senate president, a development that triggered waves of intriguing political machinations leading to the emergence of Mr Saraki as senate president. The duo have since exchange courtesies in public gatherings but have never seized, sometimes through their aides, to throw jibes at each other.
Mr Saraki, who joined the APC from the PDP in 2014, has since defected from the ruling APC.
On Saturday night, Mr. Saraki’s office officially responded to the audio, saying it was doctored to influence the by-election held on Saturday in the state.
“The audio recording that is being circulated online by known anti-Saraki henchmen is a doctored recording. It was probably part of the mix of manipulations that APC decided to employ for today’s bye election in four LGAs in Kwara South,” said Oluwole Onemola, the special assistant on new media to the senate president.
The PDP lost the by-election to the ruling APC.