[File] Nigeria's Senate leader, Bukola Saraki, announces that he would stand to become the main opposition candidate in 2019's presidential elections in Abuja, Nigeria, August 30, 2018. REUTERS-Afolabi Sotunde

A former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to include opposition parties and the international community in the fight against insecurity in Nigeria.

He spoke with newsmen shortly after he met with a former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, behind closed doors at his penthouse residence located within the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, Ogun State.

Saraki, who is the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Reconciliation and Strategy Committee, was joined in the meeting by former Governors, Ibrahim Dankwanbo (Gombe), Olagunsoye Oyinlola (Osun), Liyel Imoke (Cross River), Ibrahim Shehu Sema (Katsina) and former Majority Leader, House of Representatives, Mulikat Akande Adeola.

Speaking after about two hours closed-door meeting, Saraki said the fight against insurgency has gone beyond Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), urging the President to carry along, the opposition parties, international friends and other stakeholders in finding a lasting solution to the insecurity and other challenges confronting the nation.

He told Buhari to tackle insecurity with all the seriousness it deserves, saying: “These are issues that cross party lines and what is required now, is for government to provide leadership in bringing all stakeholders together.

“Let us discuss and see how we can address some of these issues.”

Round-table talk

Saraki also charged political leaders to shelve their ambition and selfish interest, and come together at a round table to discuss and find a solution to the country’s challenges.

He said: “I think what is important for us now as I keep on repeating is that these issues are issues that should involve everybody.

“I think that when we talk about kidnapping, when we talk about a sense of belonging, these are issues that cut across party lines and what is required now is for government to provide leadership in bringing all stakeholders together. Let us discuss and see how we can address some of these issues.


“We are very hopeful for the future of this country. We are very hopeful that everybody will have a sense of belonging.

“I think it is important that we all must be able to be on the table and discuss.

“We can tap into a lot of resources, even on the issue of security, there are a lot of people with a lot of experience that we can make use of.

“My advice to the government this time is that this problem is a huge problem that cannot be left to just the government and the ruling party.”

Crisis in PDP

The former Kwara State Governor expressed hope that the PDP would soon resolve its crisis.

He described the report of the planned removal of the party’s national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, as propaganda.

Saraki said: “I think that we are making some progress, there are people who were not ready to sit at the same table to discuss, we have been able to achieve that.

“We have given more time for ourselves in trying to do that and we are hopeful that in this month of March, we will begin to see a lot of progress that will unite the party and with that unity, we will also be able to bring in more members to our party.”

Speaking on the meeting with Obasanjo, Saraki said: “We told him [Obasanjo] what we are trying to do, to reposition the party, we told him how important that is, the project Nigeria and he told us his commitment to Nigeria, that he will never shirk away from that responsibility to have a better Nigeria.

“Of course, as we all know that he [Obasanjo] is not partisan at the moment. His focus is on Nigeria, not on a party and that, he repeated to us.”

Obasanjo, who served his two terms as president on the platform of the PDP, tore his membership card publicly in the buildup to the 2015 elections.

He had endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari over ex-President Goodluck Jonathan who eventually lost the election.

Obasanjo had later said he would no longer be involved in partisan politics.

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