- Kwara speaker, 22 others too
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja, Mohammed Aminu in Sokoto and Hammid Shittu in Ilorin
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Wednesday suffered another major setback, following the defection of the Sokoto State Governor, Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Perhaps, more dramatic was the resignation of the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, and his defection to the PDP.
Tambuwal defected along with the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Alhaji Salihu Maidaji, and 17 other members of the assembly.
Reacting swiftly to the gale of defections Wednesday, the APC said it won’t stop the party from maintaining a winning streak.
A statement issued by the Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabene, said the ruling party “is neither distracted nor surprised by the defection of Senate President Bukola Saraki; Governors Abdulfatah Ahmed and Tambuwal of Kwara and Sokoto States; Abdullahi; and others from the party”.
Addressing party supporters at the Government House in Sokoto, Tambuwal said his decision to leave the APC was because President Muhammadu Buhari has failed to meet the yearnings of Nigerians.
The governor also predicated his decision on Buhari’s inability to tackle insecurity and improve the living conditions of Nigerians.
He maintained that majority of Nigerians are currently facing hardship, frustration and penury as a result of the ineptitude of the present administration.
Tambuwal recalled that he left the PDP for APC in 2014 as a result of bad governance, adding that not much has changed in the last three years.
“We left PDP as a result of bad governance to join APC but today, not much has been achieved. Things are really getting worse.
“Therefore, with other leaders, we decided to form a new force to fine-tune and restructure the polity for a better Nigeria.
“The situation of our country, especially the economy and security, is getting worse. People are being killed in Zamfara State on a daily basis. The situation of the common man is very precarious.
“That is why we decided to join forces with other progressive Nigerians to get a new competent leadership that can deliver the goods and rescue the country from the current hardship,” he said.
The governor posited that the people of Sokoto State have not benefited from any single project initiated by the federal government in the last three years.
“As you all can testify, Sokoto State has not benefited from any single federal government project in the last three years.
“So, the people of the state are fed up with the current situation, and therefore called on us to intervene and dump the APC,” he averred.
In his remarks, a prominent politician in the state, Alhaji Isa Bajini, said President Buhari has failed to tackle insecurity, while the fight against corruption has only been against perceived opponents.
He stated that the APC-led federal government has not done anything in terms of provision of infrastructural projects for the benefit of the people of the state.
According to him, “We have nothing to show for supporting APC in the last three years. So, we have no other option than to leave the party because the people have not benefited from any single project from the federal government.
“We are therefore calling for Tambuwal to come out and fight for us.”
APC’s Spokesman, Abdullahi Quits Party
More dramatic Wednesday was the resignation of the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Abdullahi, from the party.
Abdullahi, whose political family in Kwara State led by Senate President, Bukola Saraki, had defected to the PDP on Tuesday, tried to buy time before finally turning in his resignation letter.
In a statement made public Wednesday morning, he said he found distasteful the move by the party leadership to undermine his office as the spokesman of the party.
He also frowned on what he described as “an unlawful dissolution of the validly elected party executives in Kwara State,” saying it amounts to double standard for a party that preaches change.
According to Abdullahi’s statement, “In the last few days, I have had to endure the flagrant usurpation of my role as the spokesman of the party in a manner that I consider unbefitting of a ruling party and inconsistent with my ethical standards.
“I have served the APC honestly and to the best of my ability, and when I stood for and won my election at the last convention it was a keen desire to continue to do so. However, in a situation whereby my loyalty is constantly brought into question; my subordinates deployed to subvert my office; and my views constantly second-guessed on the basis of my political affiliation, it has become imperative for me to review my position.”
Abdullahi said he was disappointed by the action of the leadership of the APC with regard to the dissolution of party executives in his home state by failing to get his input.
“Since assuming office as the spokesman of the party, I have tried to set a new template for public political communications in a way that departs from the vulgar abuse and verbal aggression of the recent past, where cheap lies and crude propaganda were normalised as politics, and even celebrated as measures of competence.
“Unfortunately, those who felt I was not ‘forceful enough’ framed my ethical disposition as evidence of a lack of commitment to the party.
“The unlawful dissolution of the validly elected party executive in Kwara State earlier in the week was only another phase in the unrelenting assault I have had to endure. As a national officer of the party, who sits in that committee, courtesy should demand that my views be sought on a matter that concerns my state and in which I am directly involved. That action was, to say the least, disrespectful.
“Quite recently, we all took the oath to do justice to all and not allow personal interests to interfere with our official responsibilities. With this obviously presumptuous action, and the decision to appoint as chairman of caretaker committee, the same man who had emerged as the chairman from the parallel congress in my state, the National Working Committee (NWC) has taken sides, violated its oath of office and subverted its own credibility as an impartial arbiter. Yet, these are the same people that have continued to insinuate that others are serving interests of others than those of the party.
“Politics is local, and my personal stake in the issue of Kwara State makes it incongruous for me to continue to sit as part of the working committee of the party. Clearly, I cannot continue to function as the spokesman of a party whose expectations of that role is incompatible with my personal principles. In the same vein, I can no longer justify to myself that I should remain in a party, which has now made it clear to the world that the political group that I belong is no longer wanted, and which has hung my membership of that group as an albatross around my neck,” he said.
Sokoto Speaker, 17 Others Dump APC
Also, along with the Speaker of the Sokoto State House of Assembly, Maidaji, and 17 other members, the Deputy Speaker of the assembly, Abubakar Magaji, and the Assembly Leader, Hon. Garba Bello Yabo, also dumped the APC.
However, 12 other lawmakers remain in the APC, and reaffirmed their commitment and loyalty to President Buhari.
The Speaker of the assembly made the announcement during the plenary session at the assembly complex in Sokoto Wednesday.
He said 18 members of the assembly had resolved to leave the APC, following internal division and acrimony bedevilling the party in many states of the federation.
Maidaji stated that the members, therefore, defected to the PDP as a result of lack of unity and cohesion in the ruling party.
He said: “We are all aware that all efforts to bring sanity into the APC and unite the different groups had proved abortive.
“These ugly developments plunged the APC into crisis with litigations in several states of the federation thereby putting the party in a serious danger leading to mass defection at the National Assembly.
“The election is around the corner and we stand in danger if we remain in a party that is divided against itself.”
He added that their defection was in line with section 109(1) (g) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Speaking with journalists shortly after the plenary, the member representing Gudu constituency in the assembly, Alhaji Sani Yakubu, who spoke on behalf of the other 11 lawmakers, stressed that they resolved to remain in the APC and work towards Buhari’s re-election in 2019.
“We the 12 members of the assembly wish to categorically inform the public that we still remain in the APC, the party we were elected on its platform to represent people of our various constituencies.
“We wish to reiterate our loyalty to the APC-led government under President Buhari,” Yakubu stated.
Kwara Assembly Speaker, 23 Others Defect to PDP
Meanwhile, following the defection of Saraki to the PDP last Tuesday, the Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly, Dr. Ali Ahmad, and 23 other members of the assembly Wednesday also defected to the PDP.
But the only APC lawmaker representing Ojomu/Baligun state constituency, Hon. Saheed Popoola, who refused to follow the defected lawmakers to the PDP, threatened to take the assembly to court over fraud allegations levelled against him.
Speaking on the floor of the House of Assembly in Ilorin from a speech he personally signed, the Speaker said the move was permitted by the provisions of Section 109 (1) (g) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Ahmad, who said he heaved a sigh of relief as he and other members of the assembly dumped APC for good, added that he wished he was never a member of the party.
Accordingly, he said: “As politicians, who allow the interests and welfare of their constituents to occupy the front seats, wide consultations have been made with people at the grassroots, and in all of these, there’s indication that our people have become disillusioned with our continuous membership of the APC and have spoken loud and clear enough in one voice that they no longer wish to continue to be strange bedfellows in that party where non-performance, injustice and impunity are the orders of the day. Let it be on record that I too have joined the PDP.”
The Speaker, who lamented his experiences while in APC, said: “Unarguably, the intrigues and power play that birthed the long drawn legal battle with key members of the APC over fathom allegations coupled with the arbitrary use of government institutions such as the police and anti-corruption agencies for harassment and intimidation of perceived opponents of people in power since APC assumed power, has dealt a heavy blow to governance. This act of illegality has turned the once great Nigeria to object of ridicule among the comity of nations.
“With the current unprecedented spate of disobedience to court rulings, the present administration at the national level has redefined governance as government of the cabal and for the cabal, thereby throwing the rule of law, the bedrock of democracy, to the dogs.”
However, the only APC lawmaker in the state House of Assembly, Popoola, who refused to join others in the PDP, threatened to take legal action against the assembly over allegations of fraud levelled against him.
Defections Won’t Halt Our Winning Streak, Says APC
Reacting to all the defections so far, the APC said they won’t stop it from maintaining a winning streak.
A statement issued by the Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabene, said the ruling party was neither distracted nor surprised by the defection of Saraki, Ahmed, Tambuwal, Abdullahi and others from the party.
The party said while it believed that the defectors have the right and freedom to pursue their political ambitions wherever they desired, it expects them to ensure that they take lessons learnt from APC to wherever they go.
“Our advice and hope is that those who have left would also have the courage to inspire in their respective political environments the atmosphere of unencumbered freedom created by the APC, which enabled them to leave without let or hindrance,” he said.
While reacting to the string of defections that hit it in recent times, APC said it would continue the winning streak in all elections this year, and beyond.
In the statement, the party also saluted the courage exhibited by the defectors to come openly and declare where they belonged.
It said: “APC is a party founded and run on the principles of freedom, sincerity and forthrightness. Saraki and the others have the freedom of association and the right to pursue their political ambitions wherever they deem it fit.
“As a party, our attention is on the matter at hand — the 2019 general election. We are united and focused with an eye to the continuation of our winning streak in all elections this year, next year and beyond.
“To our members in Kwara, Sokoto and the other states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), remain steadfast and courageous.”
You’re Hereos of Our Democracy, Say Secondus, Wike, Okowa
The National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and Delta State counterpart, Ifeanyi Okowa, have described the defecting members of the APC as hereos of Nigeria’s democracy.
Secondus said with their defections, they have shown great courage and patriotic spirit by accepting to join hands with the PDP to rescue the country at this moment of need.
Speaking at a dinner banquet held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel to honour the defectors into the PDP, Secondus said under the APC administration, the rule of law no longer holds sway, adding that the country is now facing a military-like regime.
He regretted that the ruling party has become so dictatorial that the people can no longer know the difference between the present government and the military regime.
Secondus described the defectors who have joined the PDP in the struggle to recover the people’s freedom as heroes of Nigeria’s democracy.
He went on to assure the defectors that the new leadership of the PDP was determined to bequeath to the party transparent primaries whose quality is unequalled in the history of the country.
On his part, Wike declared that the defection of Tambuwal to PDP was a victory for democracy, noting that every right thinking Nigerian should work in unity to salvage the country in 2019.
He lauded the Sokoto State governor for doing the right thing.
He said: “This is a victory for democracy. There are lots of Nigerians who believe that the right thing should be done. What the Sokoto State governor has done, is the right thing.
“There are some people who have said that we cannot continue to live in a world of intimidation. We cannot continue to live in a world of harassment. Every right thinking Nigerian should come together to see that something is done to salvage the country.”
Similarly, Okowa commended Tambuwal, Abdullahi, Ahmed, Ibeto, Saraki for their bold and courageous move.
In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Charles Aniagwu, the governor said their defection came at a time when the nation needs the input of genuine patriots to rescue the nation from anarchy and anti democratic forces.