The President of the Nigerian Senate, Bukola Saraki, is planning to join the race for the Presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in August.
Hints about his presidential ambition emerged on Saturday; just 24 hours after the Supreme Court cleared him of allegations of impropriety in his declaration of assets form by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC).
According to sources, the news immediately threw the camps of Governor Aminu Tambuwal and Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, who are co-drivers of the R-APC with Saraki, into confusion.
Tambuwal and Kwankwaso are also interested in the PDP presidential ticket and sources said it was their primary reason for wanting to return to the party having found out that they could not wrestle the ticket from President Buhari in the APC.
Saraki, who is said to be under pressure from his supporters to vie for the ticket, has been consulting his associates, political strategists, and well-wishers in the last 24 hours.
If he consents to seek the ticket, the move is bound to alter the Reformed-All Progressives Congress(R-APC) permutations ahead of next year’s elections.
The camp of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is also said to have been taken aback by Saraki’s sudden interest in the presidential race.
A source knowledgeable about the relationship between Atiku and Saraki on Saturday rated the Senate President’s latest move as an “upset and contrary to the discussion by the two leaders in a country in the Middle East.”
The source told The Nation that “what was agreed upon by Saraki, Atiku and other contestants was that whoever secured the presidential ticket would be supported by all.”
But the source said Saraki “did not give any commitment to back Atiku only for the presidency.”
Investigation by The Nation revealed that the Supreme Court verdict on Saraki played a big role in changing the permutations in the R-APC and the PDP.
Saraki, it was gathered, has ruled out remaining in APC or backing Buhari for re-election, declining persuasion by a top presidency official that he should remain in the APC.
The Senate President felt he will “not be able to have moral and emotional stamina to campaign for Buhari in view of his humiliation at the Code of Conduct Tribunal and the police on Offa robbery.”
His political family and APC supporters in Kwara State are also said to be opposed to mounting the podium for Buhari in 2018/2019 electioneering.
Investigation also showed that Friday’s ruling of the Supreme Court which cleared him of any corruption stigma was the ‘joker’ Saraki needed to rescue his political career.