UNHOLY ALLIANCE: THE TINUBU AND EL-RUFAI PARTNERSHIP

Those who have been keenly watching the ongoing travails of the Nigerian Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, in the net of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) over the last two weeks must have noticed that a number of media outfits have been at the forefront of the campaign to sway the tide of Saraki's ordeal in a certain direction that does not favour the 'Number 3 Citizen'. Additionally, recent allegations seem to suggest that these media outfits are under the control of powerful forces in the ruling party. These forces, who have shown that they are bent on deciding who gets punished, who gets favoured, and who gets sidelined all together in this administration, have focused all their efforts on Saraki since his emergence as Senate President on the 9th of June, 2015.

Week in and week out, day in and day out, the media seems to be working round the clock to maim, deflate and embarrass Saraki at all costs; amplifying stories beyond plausible reasoning; recreating the truth to disfavor Saraki, and; even more troubling, concocting fabricated documents to frame him for one issue or the other. A recent example is the forged passport saga, where the United Kingdom Home Office had to weigh in to declare that the passport was a forgery.

For the political savvy, it is clear that the attacks against Saraki has 2019 connotations, as both Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai, have reportedly started positioning themselves to vie for the highest seat in the land. It is for this reason, that both the aforementioned APC powerhouses, have come together to take out a prospective threat in the form of Bukola Saraki, who is considered as a force to reckon with in his position as the head of Nigeria's legislature, a former Chairman of the Nigerian Governor's Forum (NGF), and a former two-term Governor.

While Tinubu has been jostling for the control of the ruling party's machinery by using his loyalist to sway decisions, and using his media power to sway the masses in any direction he so chooses, El-Rufai, who is now considered the de-facto Vice-President of the Federation, has been using his influence in Buhari's inner-circle to manipulate people to do things in the President's name. In a nutshell, El-Rufai has reportedly been fingered as the instigator of the plot against Saraki – using his former Special Assistant, Dan Umar (the Chairman of the CCT), while Tinubu is said to be the 'public opinion influencer.' E.g. One concocts the case, the other sells it to the public.

As there are said to be no permanent friends or enemies in politics – only permanent interests, the El-Rufai and Tinubu theory that has been thrown around in political circles seems to carry a lot of credence.  This theory holds water because analysts have said that though El-Rufai and Tinubu have similar ambitions, working together now to fight a titan of an enemy like Saraki, will ultimately leave the 2019 race as a contest between the both of them. In this scenario, knowing how Tinubu operates – having cut a deal with Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 that gave him control of the South West, but lost his party the presidential elections – he might just trade the Presidential ticket to El-Rufai, leaving the crafty Mallam at the helm of the nation, while he sits beside him at the top of the party.

Finally, haven spoken to some prominent APC members during my recent trip to Abuja, it is clear that the fight between Tinubu and Saraki is a fight that should concern all Nigerians – as Tinubu is clearly on a mission. Saraki is reportedly said to be against the appointment of Babatunde Fowler, the erstwhile Chairman of the Lagos Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) as the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). This is because while Fowler administered LIRS, he hired Tinubu's company, Alpha Beta Consultancy as LIRS consultants, and reportedly paid the company 10-15% of revenue proceeds monthly. With Lagos state generating about N30 billion monthly, Tinubu's company was making at least N3 billion a month – nearly N36 billion a year.

Barring any last minute political changes, once confirmed as FIRS boss, Tinubu will expectedly use 'Tunde the Taxmaster' Fowler as his siphon agent to finance his election in the same manner they did in Lagos State. From this, two major ambitions stand very germane: Fowler's emergence and Tinubu's persistent presidential mission. Then if we all understand how the thirst for power flames like, we would all agree that Saraki is not worth 'sparing' at all, as he is just too strong an impediment to all these missions and ambitions.

Written by Kuddi Haastrup.



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