PRESIDENT of the Senate, Bukola Saraki has revealed how in 2015 he bribed electorate to win votes for President Muhammadu Buhari, while campaigning for his election as the president of the country.
In a leaked audio clip where Saraki was addressing some youths in Ilorin, Kwara State capital, he recalled how he offered millions of naira to voters in 30 of the 36 states of the Federation to secure votes for President Buhari during the election.
The authenticity of the voice in the in the leaked clip could not be immediately ascertained.
The Special Assistant on New Media to Saraki, Oluwole Onemola, in a statement, described the clip as a “doctored recording.”
In the 33-minute and 56-second audio clip, the Senate President spoke of how he was moving with the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from one state to another and up to the last day to the election giving instructions to banks to release money to ‘settle’ electorate.
“What is happening from the top, use me as an example, in 2014 to 2015, we moved out of PDP and carried APC issue on our heads. We went round and there is no state in Nigeria that I didn’t campaign for Buhari,” he said in the video that was recorded in Yoruba language majorly.
“Up to the time we were conducting election in 2015, I was still with him from Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to the Saturday that is the election day, out of 36 states, 30, 30 I paid for the election; those that took N300million, those that N400million and those that took N200million. The only six states which I don’t know anything is South West.
“There is no other state I didn’t spend money. I was calling banks on phone.”
Saraki also said he left the ruling party because, despite investing hugely into the electoral campaign of President Buhari, there was nothing to show for it by him and his state, Kwara State particularly in the areas of federal appointments.
He said his thought “was that once we finished doing that and won the election,”the majority of his people from Kwara State would be given federal appointments.
“If you remember, I used to joke with them that all of you will follow me to Abuja. That some of them will be MDs of agencies either road maintenance, NITDA, NPA among others.
“Because I know, if a son of Kwara State is even just ED [director ] of UBEC, I know the kind of work he can sign from his desk either N1million or N2million. But for the first time, when you have a President of the Senate, even a speaker cannot appoint a cleaner. I’m not talking about board appointment, that’s different where someone is appointed a director, that is non-executive.–who just collect money per sitting.”
The video which was first tweeted by Kayode Ogundamisi, a public commentator and blogger on Friday, November 16, has since gone viral on the social media.
Saraki lamented that the last three and a half years of President Buhari’s administration were not easy noting that some of the causes were “human factors” as well as the will of God, adding that his agenda has been how to ensure the growth of youths.
“I agree that the last three and a half years were not easy at all.”
“Now what has changed in the last three and a half years, some are human-based factors, majority of them, for me, I see as divinely designed by God because you are saying yours comparing the time I was governor to now, and wondering that all the youths who are struggling, I know it is not good.”
“What is going on, what is our benefit from this government as youths, or what did we benefit in the last three and a half years, “Saraki asked.
He bemoaned his ordeal in the hands of the administration during which he said: ” I went to court 1, court 2, court 3, court 4; for three and half years!”
The Senate President has been in a running battle with the leadership of APC since he won the Senate President seat against the wish of the party’s top echelon in 2015.
Despite all the efforts we made and what we have been through, what they rewarded us within the party (APC) was the result from the top that you are experiencing, the difficulty.
“If you look at the agencies they appointed executive positions, what do you want me to say? Or when you labour and spend billions and things fall in place…even if you aren’t going to offer us appointments, let us have our peace.”
He told his audience he never deceived them, adding that his agenda was to ensure the growth of the youth in the state through ‘empowerment’.
The Senate president urged PDP members in Kwara State to work for the success of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar even as he vowed to ensure that Buhari is not re-elected as the president of the nation in 2019.
According to him, many of those who worked for the ruling APC have since regretted their actions, citing examples of politicians who invited him into the party ahead of the 2015 general elections like the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun; and Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari.
When The ICIR called Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, he referred the reporter to Mr. Onemola, SA Online Media to the Senate President. “Speak to Mr. Onemola, he has reacted on behalf of the Senate President. He has my approval to react.”
Onemola, on his Twitter handle, said the audio clip was probably part of the mix of manipulations that APC decided to employ for today’s bye-election in four Local Government Areas in Kwara South.
“For the record: we always restrain from responding to inconsequential issues that we can otherwise ignore. However, in order to put this issue to rest so that we can move on to real issues, these are the facts:
“The audio recording that is being circulated online by known anti-Saraki henchmen is a doctored recording. It was probably part of the mix of manipulations that APC decided to employ for today’s bye-election in four LGAs in Kwara South,” he said
Meanwhile, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has sent an open letter to the Chairman Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, requesting him to “promptly, thoroughly and effectively investigate allegation that Saraki spent between N200m and N400m in every state, except the six South-West states, to influence the outcome of the 2015 elections APC.