The Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, says the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and the Clerk of the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa, were aware that Buhari had summoned a meeting with the All Progressives Congress senators before the Senate was inaugurated. Shehu said both Saraki and the clerk should have extended that respect to Buhari by postponing the inauguration but they failed to do so. The presidential spokesman said this during a programme on Channels Television, Sunrise Daily, on Tuesday.
Shehu said Buhari did not bother attending the meeting with the 51 APC senators at the International Conference Centre because Saraki had emerged Senate President before the meeting could even hold. He said:
“President Buhari had planned to be there (at the meeting) to show support for the party but once the process had begun, the point had been lost. Senator Saraki directly or indirectly and the clerk of the National Assembly were reached directly or indirectly and they would have shown that respect to Mr. President, but the process went ahead. And that is it.”
“The clerk and Senator Saraki, the key characters in all of these, had sufficient information directly or indirectly coming to them that the President would be meeting the party members. The assumption would have been that every loyal and committed party member would have presented themselves to the party and to their President. That did not happen yesterday (Tuesday).”
Shehu said Saraki might still have emerged the Senate President but the inauguration of the Senate should have been delayed out of respect for the President. He said the APC senators showed respect for the President by showing up for the meeting and did not err by doing so. He said:
“They chose to be absent. They chose to respect their party and the President. Fifty APC senators decided to answer the call of the party and the President and were present at this meeting. It was not as if it was a secret meeting.”
Shehu denied reports that Buhari lured the 51 senators to the ICC so that Saraki could emerge the Senate President. He said the meeting was not secret as it had been announced by the party the previous day. He said:
“The party had begun a process and concluded it and some of these actors were part of that process. They knew what had happened. There was a shadow election of some sort. It is clear that there was nothing accidental in all of these things that happened. What I mean is that the APC, as a party, had begun a process for choosing leaders. There was a shadow election in which leaders were chosen on the platform of the political party and it was complete. There was no doubt about it.”