Bukola Saraki, the Senate President, has said that he didn’t contest in the 2014 presidential primary of the All Progressives Congress, APC, which produced Muhammadu Buhari as the party’s flag bearer.
Mr. Saraki, in a statement issued on Wednesday by his spokesperson, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said he decided to support Mr. Buhari when the latter indicated interest to run for president.
Mr. Saraki was responding to a report said to have been published in Africa Confidential, a specialist publication on Africa, which claimed that the Senate President had contested against Mr. Buhari.
The report, an analysis of how succession politics within the ruling party was allegedly frustrating President Buhari’s anti-corruption campaign, is said to have also claimed that the Senate president has retained the services of a London-based communications consultant, Aequitas, to help him work on his public image.
All the claims contained in the publication are not correct, Mr. Saraki said in the statement.
“Dr. Saraki publicly announced in a statement in Ilorin on October 12, 2014 that he would not contest against Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) who was then an aspirant because ‘some of us need to make sacrifice and be part of the solution rather than part of the problem of the party” the statement said.
“He then declared that he would support the candidacy of the retired General. Dr. Saraki was one of the people who worked tirelessly to ensure General Buhari won the APC ticket and the general election.
“Again, contrary to the claim in your article, Dr. Saraki does not retain the services of Aequitas. He formerly engaged Aequitas for strategic policy services while he was Governor of Kwara State and Chair of the Nigeria Governors Forum, and at the initial stage of his period as Senate President. He no longer retains the services of Aequitas effective from January 1, 2017.
Mr. Saraki said in the statement that his interest, for now, was how to reform the country’s Senate and “make it an institution whose impact and relevance is felt and appreciated by the generality of the people”.
Mr. Saraki, who pledged his “full support” for the administration of President Buhari, didn’t say categorically that he wasn’t interested in contesting for president in 2019.