A member of the National Assembly, Senator Ali Ndume, has dismissed Senate President Bukola Saraki’s presidential ambition, describing it as a pipe dream and “not a threat to President Muhammadu Buhari’s second-term bid”.
Mr Saraki, who recently defected from the ruling APC to the main opposition PDP, is aspiring to be the country’s next president in the 2019 general elections.
Speaking as a guest on the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, Forum in Abuja, however, Ndume, who is a strong ally of the Senate president until they fell out in 2017, and an APC senator representing Borno South, said that Mr Saraki could only win an election in his home state, Kwara.
“I think it is good he is going for the presidency of Nigeria and he will see that it is only Kwara people that will vote him, not Nigerians.
“We are waiting, at best you will see that maybe people from North Central will vote (for him) because that is where he is from, but I do not think Mr Saraki will be Nigeria’s president.
“When somebody cannot manage the Senate how can he manage Nigeria?
“When you present President Buhari and Saraki hand in hand for people to choose from, the difference is very clear.’’
Since his declaration for the presidential race, Saraki has said at different fora that the country was in dire need of a leader like him with the “demonstrable capacity to unite the nation’’.
But Ndume said the Senate president could not be trusted with the country’s leadership, having used his position as Senate president to “antagonise and sabotage’’ the current government.
“Where we got it wrong was where Senate President Saraki thought that the Senate is independent. The legislature is not independent of the extent of operating like a different country.
“If it were in Nigeria, Saraki would have been the Vice President. Would he be sabotaging his principal?
“The Senate is supposed to support the government, not to sabotage the government, not to antagonise the government.”
Mr Ndume and Saraki were strong allies and members of the bipartisan “Like Minds Group’’ in the Senate, formed to among other things, protect the legislature against undue interference.
Mr Ndume said their problem started when he allegedly discovered that Saraki was pursuing a personal agenda against national interest for which the group was founded.
The rift got to a head with the removal of the Borno lawmaker as Majority Leader of the Senate and his subsequent suspension for six months.