Nigerian presidential race heats up as Saraki and Al-Mustapha declare they are considering running

NIGERIA'S forthcoming 2019 presidential election race got tighter yesterday with senate president senator Bukola Saraki and former  head of security to ex-military dictator general Sani Abacha Major Hamza Al-Mustapha revealing that they are considering running.


Currently at the centre of several controversies involving a bitter spat with the presidency, Senator Saraki has been under pressure from the government to resign as senate president following his defection from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). So far, he has resisted the pressure but is fighting battles on several fronts, including being indicted in a recent violent armed robbery in his native Kwara State.


Yesterday, Senator Saraki admitted he is considering running against President Muhammadu Buhari in next year’s general elections. Over the last week, the senate president has visited ex-president Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and former military ruler General Ibrahim Babangida, where it is believed he has revealed his intentions.


Senator Saraki said: “I am consulting and actively considering it as I believe I can make the change. The PDP has learnt its lesson from the loss in 2015 and I think unfortunately the APC did not learn from their victory.


“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, having a more nationalistic approach on things we do and to continue to improve the environment that will ensure investments."


He added that he and his supporters listed a number of items during their discussions with the PDP before joining the party and there is a written agreement to that effect, which they can hold the party to. According to senator Saraki, they will ensure that the party is strong on security, an area in which the APC has not done too well.


"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,” Senator Saraki added.


Meanwhile, Major Al-Mustapha, added that he will join the presidential race if called upon by Nigerians to do so. Speaking in Kaduna shortly after a meeting with the United Christian Leaders Eagle Eye Forum, he added that he would only run if pressed to do so, however.


Major Al-Mustapha said:  “I am not going to announce myself contesting for a presidential seat but if people say so, that is the wishes of the people. I am not a power-thirsty person, if I am, I would have lost my personality long before now but when people gather to speak and the decision is by them, then it is a call to serve.


Speaking on the security situation in the country and the anti-corruption war, Major Al-Mustapha called for the reintroduction of toll gates, which he described as an effective buffer for uncovering illegal weapons and movement of criminals. He also took a swipe at the