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2019: I’m considering running for presidency – Saraki

As the number of presidential aspirants in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) swells, Senate President, Bukola Saraki has said he was considering bidding for the number one political office in the country.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Saraki said he was also consulting on the possibility of contesting for the Presidency next year.

According to him, “I am consulting and actively considering it… I believe I can make the change.”

On the chances of the PDP in next year’s election, Saraki said the party had learnt its lesson from the loss in 2015. He, however, said the ruling “APC did not learn from its victory.”

Talking about his return to PDP and what transpired between the Reformed All Progressives Congress (R-APC) he said: “While negotiating with the PDP, we listed a number of issues. 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 on 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.”

Speaking on security challenges in the country and what the PDP could do about it, he said: “We would ensure that the party is strong on security. The APC too have not done well on the issue of security. We have the opportunity with the right kind of presidential candidate and president to provide the leadership for the party. The party has a good opportunity to lead the country in the right direction.” Saraki expressed worry over next year’s elections, saying if the Department of State Services (DSS) could barricade the National Assembly, there is cause for concern.

He said: “If a government can go and lock up an arm of government — and it has never happened in our history — we should all be very concerned… we should not be surprised that they would use security agencies for elections.

“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 is 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.”

On the economy, he 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.”

Commenting on subsidy regime in the country, he said: “If we are going to have a subsidy, we should have a budget for subsidy. 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.”

He lamented the situation, where the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is the sole importer of fuel, saying such arrangement would be “inefficient; it’s not going to be transparent.” Saraki defected from the APC to PDP a few weeks ago, taking the whole political structure away.

Kwara State governor Abdulfatah Ahmed as well as 23 lawmakers also joined APC.

Last week, Saraki met with former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida in Minna.

A few days ago, he also met with ex-president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in Abeokuta.

Details of his discussion with the two former leaders were not made public.



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