THERE were conflicting reports on Friday over whether ailing President Muhammadu Buhari met with the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, last night at Abuja House, London.
Sources close to the administration had Friday afternoon told Saturday Tribune that the Senate President, who left Nigeria on Wednesday primarily to attend his son’s graduation ceremony in London, was billed to meet with President Buhari later in the day.
While a government source said the meeting was underway as of press time, another source in Saraki’s media office said tersely that “there was no meeting” and that the Senate president would come back to Nigeria today.
Competent government sources, however, said the meeting, which was planned to firm up Buhari’s efforts at uniting his government, was to be a follow-up to Tuesday’s meeting of the President with Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
Saraki had also on Wednesday met with Osinbajo to, according to sources, discuss some pressing national matters.
It was confirmed that specifically, the meeting between the Acting President and Saraki was aimed at dousing the tension between the National Assembly and the executive in recent weeks.
A source close to the government said the President was worried by the seeming intractable crisis between the executive and the legislature leading to a near shutdown of the government.
“We have it on good authority that the President is disturbed that a near collapse of his administration could be at hand following the all-out battle between the executive and the legislature. The President is seeking a resolution of all issues in contention and when he comes, he will be able to mend fences where necessary,” the source stated.
It was gathered that President Buhari and Saraki planned to “further iron out certain outstanding issues during the meeting scheduled for Friday evening.”
Besides, the meeting between Buhari and Saraki, it was gathered, was in an effort to keep the government united despite Buhari’s absence.
At least two ministers were believed to have been present at the Abuja House venue of the Tuesday meeting between Osinbajo and Buhari.
The ministers, it was learnt, were the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN) and the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika. Another top government functionary, who was not named, was also said to be present. Efforts to confirm this from the two ministers were not successful on Friday.
A source said President Buhari has been concerned about the danger of having a divided country in view of the widespread calls for restructuring and secession by the South East as well as the quit notice issued to Igbos living in the North by Arewa youths.
“Being a statesman, the President is concerned about the calls flying around suggestive of a divided country. He has asked the Acting President to firm up the system and ensure the government remains a united front,” a source close to the deliberations claimed on Friday.