By John Shiklam in Kaduna

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kaduna State has said that it is not loosing sleep over the defection of some key members of the party.

The party maintained that those defecting are not a threat to Governor Nasir el-Rufai’s re-election bid in 2019.

In a telephone interview with THISDAY on Thursday in Kaduna, the state Assistant Secretary of the party, Yahaya Baba Pate, said the party was not bothered about those leaving, as “el-Rufai is a popular brand”.

Besides, he said el-Rufai has fulfilled his campaign promises to the electorate, stressing that the party is comfortable and will emerge victorious come 2019.

He also said many people were moving into the APC in the state, adding that over 100,000 people were received into the party three months months ago.

Pate was speaking against the backdrop of the defection of some prominent members of the party.
Key members of the APC who have dumped the party included Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, Haruna Saeed, Isah Ashiru and Yaro Makama Rigachiku.

Just recently, the two factions of the party — the Restoration Group and the “APC Akida” — announced their decision to dump the party.

But Pate, while calling the bluff of the defectors, said the APC was not bothered.

He said: “The APC is a ruling party in Kaduna State. We receive people who are coming into the party day by day.

“Our Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, has fulfilled his campaign promises to the electorate, so we are comfortable that come 2019, APC will be victorious in Kaduna State based on the performance of our able governor.”

Speaking further, Pate maintained that: “The people you are talking about (Senators Sani and Hunkuyi) left the party a long time ago. They are just talking about leaving the party now. In the last two and a half years, they have not contributed anything to the party.

“They had not supported the party in any of its activities in the past two years and so I don’t think their leaving the APC will have any negative impact on the party.

“By and large, we just received more than 100,000 new party members about three months ago.
“The governor is doing his best to fulfill his electoral promises which in turn will make the party victorious in 2019.

“We are sure with the track record of our governor and the support base of the party in the state and the support of President Muhammadu Buhari, I don’t think we have any cause to worry.”

Dismissing claims that Hunkuyi contributed to the victory of el-Rufai in 2015, Pate said no particular individual can claim credit for the party’s victory in the 2015 elections.

According to him, “Mallam Nasir el-Rufai is a household name in Nigeria and Kaduna State.

“A lot of people contributed in bringing APC to power in Nigeria, in Kaduna State in particular. So our victory in 2015 cannot be attributed to a particular person.

“There is no individual that can claim the credit alone.

“Our brand is a good brand so it was easier for us to sell our governor to the people of Kaduna State who voted for him massively during the 2015 elections. “So nobody can claim that he made Mallam Nasiru el-Rufai to become governor of Kaduna State. It was a collective efforts by party members and the electorate.”

He also said the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) does not exist going by the controversial result of the local government elections.

“I don’t think there is anything called PDP in Kaduna State. In the recent local government elections in the state, the result has shown that the APC is still the dominant party in the state.

“That further tells you our party is one and solid and ready to confront any opposition in the 2019 general election,” he said.