Hopes of a rapprochement between President Muhammadu Buhari and Senate President Bukola Saraki have continued to fade by the day. The No. 1 and No. 3 citizens are still not on speaking terms despite saying the eid-el-fitr prayers together on Friday July 17, TheCable can report. In a widely publicised photograph, Saraki next to Buhari at the praying ground in Abuja, fuelling speculations that the Ramadan, the Muslims’ holiest month, might have helped to break the ice between them.
But presidency sources have told TheCable that if anything, “the relationship has grown colder and the coming weeks promise to be very tense between the two men”. There are no phone calls, private meetings or exchanges of correspondence between them, according to presidency insiders.
TheCable understands that Saraki had tried all possible avenues to have a one-on-one meeting with Buhari but did not get the green light, although both men have met in public on a couple of occasions and produced the obligatory handshake and smile. Efforts by some top members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to broker a truce have failed, with Buhari insisting that Saraki’s “act of betrayal” will not go unpunished.
Saraki, who co-ordinated fund-raising efforts for Buhari for the 2015 presidential election, was controversially elected senate president when the national assembly was inaugurated on June 8. The party preferred Ahmad Lawan, who is also thought to be Buhari’s choice although the president openly denied having any personal choice. The situation was further worsened by the choice of principal officers outside of the senators picked by the party hierarchy.
The crisis generated by the national assembly leadership elections has continued to stall legislative proceedings as the APC tries to assert its authority on its preferred candidates. Not a single motion has been passed by either of the chambers since the inauguration which also produced Yakubu Dogara as speaker as against Femi Gbajabiamila preferred by some key APC figures. Saraki and Dogara, both defectors from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), were endorsed by their former party in the national assembly leadership race. Both chambers are expected to resume on July 28 after shifting the date from July 21 in order to allow for tensions to die down and outstanding matters to be resolved.
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