SaharaReporters has learned from presidency sources
that Senate President Bukola Saraki has formed an alliance with a cabal
within the Aso Rock Villa determined on confusion and disorder rather
than witness Acting President Yemi Osinbajo assume full presidential
powers.

The new balance of forces emerges as the cabal has found it
impracticable in the past few weeks to bring back ailing President
Muhammadu Buhari to the country.

Buhari’s doctors continue to insist he cannot function or run Nigeria
in his present state of health, but the cabal, which is using ethnicity
and religious sentiments to foment deep-seated animosity against the
Acting President, has continued to explore its options.

To that
end, it met recently in Saudi Arabia with Mr. Saraki, led by Isa Funtua,
a failed businessman who was owner of now bankrupt Bullet Construction
Company, while Saraki led some senators. Also in the Senate President’s
group were Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu, a former Bauchi State Governor and
ex-chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party chairman who fled Nigerian
on exile, as well as Bala Mohammed, a former Minister of the Federal
Capital Territory who is undergoing trial for money laundering.

Our sources say the cabal held several meetings with Saraki’s team,
the senators included having been sponsored to the lesser hajj on fat
allowances from the coffers of the National Assembly.

At the meeting, the cabal decided on a number of options to force
Acting President Osinbajo out of power. The options include bringing Mr.
Buhari to Nigeria in whatever condition he might be. That plan was to
use the gravely sick president’s presence to implement their agenda by
insisting
he is not the first leader to become sick in office, citing those
countries whose leaders were sick but remained in office.

That option created difficulties on account of Buhari’s precarious
condition, including lapses of lucidity. Sometimes, says one of our
sources,
the president does not even remember where he is. Besides, Buhari often
loses his voice as a side effect of one of the drugs prescribed for him
by UK doctors.

A second option considered by the cabal was to force Mr. Osinbajo to
accept current Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, as
the Vice President. In that event, the cabal would prevail on President
Buhari to resign, provided that Mr. Osinbajo agreed to drop all
corruption cases against senators and withdraw the Federal Government’s
appeal against a verdict of the Code of Conduct Tribunal that cleared
Mr. Saraki of charges that he violated asset declaration laws. In
addition, Mr. Osinbajo would commit to remove Ibrahim Magu from the
chairmanship of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

One source said Mr. Saraki was opposed to the plan as he aspires to
become the VP so as to be assured of immunity from prosecution. However,
cabal
members favor Mr. Malami because they consider him somebody who comes
from the “core north” and would be more acceptable to their base, a
profile Saraki does not fit.

The third option weighed by the cabal was to create enough political
crisis in the country as to provoke a military takeover of power.
However, that option proved problematic when Western diplomats sternly
signaled that they would not accept a military coup in Nigeria as such
an intervention could lead to Nigeria’s break up. Even so, one of our
sources said the cabal members had not altogether abandoned that option.

On his return from the hajj, Mr. Saraki held several meetings with
senators loyal to him and directed them not to entertain any motion
calling for Mr. Buhari’s resignation unless his own position as the
prospective VP was assured. On his part, Mr. Isa Funtua met with
numerous northern politicians, powerful civil servants and military
officers and warned that the North could not afford to “lose power” to
the Yoruba. He reminded them that, when former President Umaru Yar’Adua
died, the North ceded power to Goodluck Jonathan, an Ijaw man they
thought would be easy to manipulate. However, within a few months of
assuming the presidency, Mr. Jonathan, he claimed, gave all the
important appointments “to his people.” He stated that the Yoruba were
way too smart to be left with power for the remainder of Mr. Buhari’s term.

It is to be noted that the sudden resurgence on Tuesday of senators’
obsession with removing Mr. Magu was not a coincidence. Some top
National Assembly sources revealed that the demand for Magu to be fired
was the first salvo in a planned set of orchestrated moves meant to
subvert the Nigerian constitution and avert a potential Osinbajo
presidency.

Osinbajo’s offense, according to the sources, is that he has stood
solidly behind the President in the nomination and preference of Mr.
Magu as EFCC Chairman.

The situation on Tuesday was so bad that while Senator Eyinnaya
Abaribe was moving a motion asking the Senate to declare Saraki “Acting
President,” Mr. Osinabjo was already back in Abuja from his trip to the
African Union summit in Addis Ababa.

Apparently, Abaribe and Senator Kabir Marafa did not know, and Saraki
shut down the motion pretending as though he had no prior knowledge of
it. However, several Senate sources told SaharaReporters that Saraki had
simply forgotten to inform Abaribe and others involved in the plot that
Osinbajo had returned to Abuja overnight.

What Nigerians saw on Tuesday at the Senate was part of the
pre-arranged onslaughts against Osinbajo that were decided in Saudi
Arabia between representatives of the cabal and the Senate President’s
team.

In keeping with the agreements reached at their meetings in Saudi
Arabia, Senator Saraki and members of the cabal will in the next few
weeks continue to heat up the system and provoke disorder, in the hope
of encouraging a military coup.

The two groups’ fourth option is to cause enough problems for
Osinbajo that he will quietly resign because the coalition against him
believes he is not a politically ambitious person. That silent option is
known as the “Shonekan option,” referring to how Ernest Shonekan was
eased out by General Sani Abacha in 1993 shortly after former President
Ibrahim Babangida was forced out by a military cabal in the wake of his
annulment of the June 12 elections.

Under any of the options, a source confided that Saraki believes that sooner or later, the presidency will be his to pluck.

One Presidency source asserted that cabal members who will provide
logistics for the move against Mr. Osinbajo include the current Director
General of the Department of State Services, Lawan Daura, who is said
to be fully bothered about his own fate because of tons of insider DSS
petitions and queries about him in the past and now. It is believed
Saraki has offered him protection and retention in office under the new
deal.

Daura is also expected to clamp down on social media and target
social media users including SaharaReporters. To achieve this objective,
Daura has reportedly sent a whole team of DSS operatives to Russia to
figure out how to achieve a social media shutdown.

The Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, who became the cabal’s arrowhead, is
said to have become somewhat more cautions, even becoming close to
Osinbajo, but our sources say this is a strategy to elude scrutiny and
suffer less pressure from the media, especially as it has become clear
Buhari may not return very soon, or in good health. In the words of an
Aso Rock source, “He has become much more circumspect these days.”

But the Senate President, according to one principal Senate principal
officer, is “now the one calling the shots, calling meetings of service
chiefs at his residence to dish out instructions that ought to be
coming from the Acting President because some of the representatives of
the cabal he met with in Saudi Arabia told him they would prefer him to
be the next president.”

A senator who pleaded anonymity said the preference for Saraki is
simply based on their shared horror of allowing Osinbajo to clinch power
with Magu as EFCC chairman. While the members from both sides try to
couch the rhetoric in ethnic terms, according to him, “the real driving
force behind this new working arrangement is that Saraki will be the
first politician to create a thief paradise much like IBB of years
past.”

Although not trusted by many of the Senate’s principal officials,
Saraki continues to wield considerable influence because of the amount
of resources and money he has made available to the officials, including
financial gifts to a number of senators using official and personal
means.

Indeed the Senate President, who was heavily implicated in the Panama
Papers, is also believed to have stolen at least N3.5 billion from the
Paris Club refunds in recent weeks. While two other governors indicted
in stealing part of the funds have quickly made refunds after they
failed to get the protection they sought from the presidency, Saraki has
simply refused to return his own part of the loot. And this partly
explains his resolve to fight harder now, an informed source explained.

He asked: “We know Saraki is wily and full of treachery, everyone
knows that, but what do you expect some of us to do if he asks for our
support?  But Nigerians are not fools, the people will sort him out.”

The source went on: “Don’t you remember how this man – Saraki – even
ruthlessly outwitted his own father and sister?  The man is currently
not on speaking terms with Gbemisola Saraki and his brother Olaolu. Or
even more recently did you not see what he did to Senator Ali Ndume?
Ndume is still sitting in one corner sulking today.”

That source said, “What the Aso Rock cabal don’t know about Saraki is
that if he gets what he really wants that is 2019 presidency ticket, he
would deal with even the cabal members first, particularly the DG,
SSS.”

According to that particular Senator, “As we speak, Saraki has the
case files against the DG, SSS, including reports of how the Chief of
Staff Kyari and Mamman Daura handled some oil deals—especially strategic
oil deals involving UAE early in the administrations—without the
knowledge of the president. When the president found out through the UAE
government, he was alarmed.  Saraki has details of all these.”

But another source in the Senate concluded as follows: “Why these
people are able to run rings and play around the Buhari-Osinbajo
presidency is because the president has simply refused to use its huge
but informal arsenal to deal with either the Senate President or members
of the Aso Rock Cabal.”

Already, Nigerians on social media have been very loud in their
condemnation of the Senate President, many of them hoping the presidency
will act to call a spade a spade and rid the nation of these foxes.
Said one: “Somebody has to do it, this nation is bleeding politically,
this is needless and a waste of precious time.”

To counter social media condemnation and backlash, Saraki has set up a
number of trolls operating principally from the APC headquarters in
Ilorin and Abuja, and through paid journalists and social media
influencers, with the objective of advancing his narrative and halting
the assumption to the presidency of a man he once dismissed as a mere
“commissioner” when Mr. Osinbajo invited him to a meeting in the early
days of the Buhari Presidency.

It is also understood that Saraki and his Senate friends are working
assiduously to use oil marketers to create a fuel scarcity that would
bring about great hardship and possibly kickstart the disorder he hopes
to achieve. Those marketers have been engaging in secret meetings where
they insist the federal government must pay them N650 billion in
unverified debt. Senator Dino Melaye and one Senator Philip Aduda are
helping to set up the fuel sabotage that would lead to the scarcity.

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