Niyi Odebode, Abuja
The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, has said that he is considering contesting the 2019 presidential election, adding that he believes he can “make the change.”
Saraki, who stated this in an interview with Bloomberg, expressed concerns about the invasion of the National Assembly by operatives of the Department of State Services.
Bloomberg quoted the Senate President as saying, “I am consulting and actively considering it …I believe I can make the change.”
Saraki, who recently defected from the All Progressives Congress to the Peoples Democratic Party, said all Nigerians should be concerned about the invasion of the National Assembly.
He stated, “If a government can go and lock up an arm of government -and it’s never happened in our history – we should all be very concerned,” Saraki said.
The Senate President said that he would not be surprised if the government used security agencies for elections.”
According to Saraki, investors and Nigerians have lost confidence in Buhari.
He stated that Nigeria needed to be governed by a genuinely pro-business administration that would be able to tackle recurrent security issues.
Saraki said, “Most of the inflows that have come in are merely hot money, and that is because the oil price has gone up. Investment in the real sector is not seen. The private sector, in my view, has probably taken a position that the confidence is not there in the government. The country requires a government that is truly pro-business and a President that sees himself as a chief marketing officer.”
On the involvement of security forces in political matters, Saraki said, “There has been a persistent disregard for due process and a lack of neutrality for some of these issues. For you to have credible elections, you must have safe elections. Security agencies are actively getting involved in the politics.”
“The fundamentals of whatever we are going to develop are going to be based on sound democracy, credible elections, freedom of choice of Nigerians. If we don’t have that as a foundation, then everything else cannot happen.”
The Senate President also said that the Federal Government should make budgetary provision for fuel subsidy.
He stated, “If we are going to have a subsidy, we should have a budget for it. Because once we have a budget for it, the private sector can also play a role in the importation of petroleum products. And if the private sector plays a role, definitely the cost of the subsidy will go down and there will be more efficiency in the delivery of products.
“But in the environment we are in today, where it’s only the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation that’s doing that, it’s going to be inefficient, it’s not going to be transparent.”
Saraki added that the PDP had learnt its lesson from its defeat in the 2015 elections. He, however, said the APC did not learn any lesson from its victory.
He stated that while his group was negotiating with the PDP, it raised a number of issues. The Senate President said, “We talked about how to sustain and improve the fight against corruption. The issue of providing more powers to the states; inclusion and having a more nationalistic approach to things we do; to continue to improve the environment that will ensure investments. We listed a number of items during the discussions with the PDP, and there is a written agreement to that. We trust that we can hold them to that.
“We would ensure that the party is strong on security. The APC too has not done well on the issue of security. We have the opportunity with the right kind of presidential candidate and the president to provide the leadership for the party. The party has a good opportunity to lead the country in the right direction.”
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