Iyobosa Uwugiaren, Omololu Ogunmade, Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Thursday alleged that the All Progressives Congress (APC) senators plan to forcefully reconvene the Senate and remove the Senate President Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, saying President Muhammadu Buhari’s vacation to the UK is a ploy to avoid blame for the impending invasion.
But the Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, has warned that the PDP would forcefully repel any attempt to remove Saraki and Ekweremadu, contending that he was sure that Nigerians were not ready to accept “prison yard democracy”.
“The party is aware of plots already perfected in a meeting, on Wednesday night, between the presidency and some compromised All Progressives Congress (APC) senators, who are now in the minority, to forcefully reconvene the Senate with protection from security agencies, with a view to impeach Saraki and Ekweremadu,” the main opposition party stated Thurdday in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan.
“The PDP knows that the desperation to illegally take control of the National Assembly is part of the design to undermine our democratic institutions and completely foist a dictatorial regime on our nation,” it said.
The party said the planned invasion is also a bid to cover the atrocious and humongous corruption of the Buhari administration, which the National Assembly is set to expose.
It added that it had been reliably informed about how APC senators, especially members of the Buhari Parliamentary Support Group (BPSG), had been provided with huge sums of money, “illegally lifted from repatriated funds,” to carry out this nefarious act under the guise of urgent need to approve funds for the 2019 general election.
PDP stated: “It is clear that President Buhari and the APC are hugely terrified and distressed by the gale of defections from their fold and have resorted to underhand methods, threats and intimidation, irrespective of the damage being inflicted on the polity.
“Having been demeaned by the widespread condemnation of the recent siege on the residences of the Senate president and deputy Senate president, in addition to the invasion of the Benue State House of Assembly in a failed attempt to impeach Governor Samuel Ortom and forcefully take over the state, President Buhari is now jetting out of the country so as to appear innocent and oblivious of the political terrors about to be unleashed on the National Assembly.”
While exposing the alleged planned plot by APC, the PDP said the same leader who, in 2014, applauded the defection of PDP members, including then leaders of the National Assembly, into his APC, describing the movement, then, as “good for democracy,” is today hounding and harassing citizens for daring to defect from the failed party.
According to the party, “Besides, Nigerians will recall that the PDP had earlier alerted of plots by President Buhari to enmesh the 2019 general election in controversy by asking for virement of funds already approved in the 2018 budget for development projects instead of sending a fresh supplementary budget for the election.
“If the presidency means well for Nigeria, it should have sent a supplementary budget and duly write the leadership of the National Assembly instead of plotting to forcefully take over the federal legislature and push our nation into serious constitutional crisis.”
Despite the alleged planned alibi, the PDP said Buhari must be held responsible for any abuse of power, disregard for rule of law and assault on democratic institutions, even in his absence from the country.
The party reminded the president and the APC that it now controls the majority in the Senate and would defend democracy with all instruments available in the constitution and parliamentary rulebooks.
Saraki, Tambuwal, Others Attend PDP NEC Meeting
Meanwhile, Saraki and top former members of the APC, including former Kano State governor, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, governors of Sokoto and Benue States, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal and Dr. Samuel Ortom, were at Thursday’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the PDP.
The NEC meeting, which had the trappings of victory celebrations, saw all the gladiators, especially the new defectors in happy mood exchanging banter with each other.
Apart from the trio, the meeting hall was filled to its brim by the key figures in the PDP, including governors, lawmakers and some of the presidential aspirants.
One of the highlights of the NEC meeting was the symbolic recognition to be accorded Saraki as the leader of the opposition party being the highest ranking political office holder under the present dispensation.
Saraki will replace his deputy, Senator Ekweremadu, who had the position until the latest defection that saw Saraki and other top APC members move over to the PDP.
The arrival of Saraki was heralded by loud ovation as he was led into the venue of the meeting by the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, and other top leaders of the party.
Tambuwal: We’ll Match Force with Force
At the NEC meeting, Tambuwal warned that any abuse of due process and rule of law would be met with stiff resistance by the opposition.
Speaking at the opening of the meeting in Abuja, Tambuwal said any attempt to abuse due process in the effort to unseat principal officers of the National Assembly would be stoutly resisted.
Tambuwal said that patriotic Nigerians must rally together to retrieve power from the present leadership.
He said: “Only three days ago I did say that Nigerians will not accept prison yard democracy, especially whereby people will be framed up on the simple account of disagreement on political leanings, is simply unacceptable. And we cannot allow our country to drift further. It is not about anybody, it is not about any interest, this is about the country.
“When I hear that some people were trying to break into the chambers of the Senate to steal the mace and install a pseudo Senate president, I wondered whether they actually know the rules of our democratic engagement; it is not a Gestapo, we are in a democracy and the constitution of this country is very clear that members of the Senate and House of Representatives can choose from among themselves their own president of the Senate and Speaker.”
While speaking on the outcome of the NEC meeting, Ologbondiyan said NEC resolved to adopt the new modalities for nomination of candidates for elections, to accommodate the changes brought about by the recent law on the “not too young to run”.
He said that the NEC has also approved the timetable for party primaries, details of which will be made public soon.
Speaking on the nature of the amendments to the modalities for primaries, he said the party tried to fine-tune it to include the age reduction as contained in the new law.
Saraki had arrived the meeting about 2.50p.m. to a tumultuous crowd that besieged the National Secretariat of the PDP in Abuja.
In a short speech, Saraki said Thursday’s event was a historic one not only to the PDP but to Nigeria.
He pleaded with members of the party to accept the returning former members and other new entrants with open hands so as to boost the chances of winning the 2019 presidential election.
Saraki said: “I am happy to be back to PDP. Today is historic not only to the party but to Nigeria, which is in dire need of rescue at this moment.
“Please receive us from the bottom of your hearts. Everybody is important in this journey we are embarking on. No sacrifice is too small for the tussle we have to face.
“I offer myself to provide good leadership but that is only if we are united. Let’s all work together to make the sacrifices.”
In his speech, Secondus asked the APC administration to stop assaulting the National Assembly and other democratic institutions.
“Today is the beginning of the great journey to freedom, the great journey to free our people and rescue this country from the damage done to it by the APC in the last three years,” he said.
Secondus expressed regret that agencies of government established to protect the people have been deployed to assault institutions of democracy by the federal government, mentioning incidences involving security agencies in Ekiti, Benue States and the homes of the Senate president and his deputy.
He said that the country was sliding dangerously under the watch of APC federal government and rather than confront the challenges they continue to feign ignorance of the situation as he predicted that they will remain aloof until PDP takes over Aso Villa.
He led the NEC to observe a minute silence for souls of innocent Nigerians killed across the country and said that rather than defend the country, security agents have been deployed to harass and intimidate opponents and those with dissenting voices.
The embattled Benue Governor Samuel Ortom also expressed happiness that he was back to the PDP fold.
An emotional Ortom said: “In my journey I had too many travails and pains. I became poorer and all that I took away with me.
“I am happy I came to meet the party intact. I am happy that our leaders Senator Iyochia Ayu, David Mark, Gabriel Suswam are still there. We can go to sleep as we go to 2019 with almost these leaders with me.”
The PDP Board of Trustees (BoT) Chairman, Senator Walid Jibril, said the coming back of former PDP members is a blessing to the party, adding that all the returning members will enjoy equal recognition as other members of the party.
Many leaders of the PDP, including governors, lawmakers and state chairmen attended the NEC meeting.
Ekweremadu was, however, said to be recuperating from the travails at the EFCC detention.
Insinuation over Buhari’s Vacation Ridiculous
However, the presidency described the PDP allegation that President Buhari was proceeding on vacation in pursuit of illegal and unconstitutional acts as ridiculous.
Presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement, described the allegation as a hollow narrative only meant to draw public sympathy.
According to him, Buhari’s decision to hand over power voluntarily to his deputy, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, was a feat the PDP never attained in its 16 years of ruling.
Shehu, who also described Osinbajo as an accomplished lawyer, said it was inconceivable that the team of Buhari and Osinbajo would stoop so low to imitate the PDP.
He said whereas the government was not intolerant of opposition, the administration rejected PDP’s habit of crying foul when it is needless and attempts to distract the president whom he said was cleaning the augean stable.
He said: “Claims by the failing PDP that President Buhari had taken a 10-day leave in order to leave the stage for illegal and unconstitutional actions by the administration are both ridiculous and a hollow narrative to garner cheap sympathy.
“That the president, himself a sworn democrat had handed power to his deputy without compulsion is itself exemplary and innovative, something that the PDP failed to produce in their sixteen years of monumental mismanagement and sadistic plunder.
“For the benefit of the doubters, Osinbajo, the vice president who acts in the absence of the President is a lawyer of the highest rank and a social rights crusader who had received local and international acclaim before he took the present office. It is inconceivable that this is the team to copy the bad manners cast in stone in the PDP.
“We welcome objective criticism and take them seriously and humbly, but Nigerians must by now be tired of a party, the stock in trade of which is to cry wolf where there is none, ostensibly to spread negativity and distract the President’s attention from the cleansing operations he has been mandated to carry out.”
While reeling out what he described as Buhari’s reforms in the country, Shehu accused the PDP of mere obsession to capture power.
Telling the party to keep quiet if it has no value to add, Shehu alleged that one thing that is haunting the PDP is the fear that its dirty records would further be reopened.
“The president is carrying out difficult reforms for the future growth of the country, such as the implementation of the ease of doing business, the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the whistleblower process, and hundreds of others, including the massive investment in rail, roads and power.
“If such reforms had happened in 16 years of the PDP, it would have made things much better for the country.
“Instead, they seem to be fixated with a desperate quest for power, nothing but power for its own sake because they have nothing to offer. They draw a sadistic pleasure when things appear to be going wrongly, yet they offer nothing by way of remedy or solutions.
“The whole country is fighting corruption and the ordinary citizen is happy about all that is happening. “The economic parameters have changed for the better, a clear indication that the administration’s political and economic strategies are working but the opposition is not interested.
“If the PDP doesn’t have anything that would help our farmers, women, the common man and the youth, they should just keep quiet.
“In the end, one thing Nigerians should take away from the cacophonous falsehoods from the PDP and the tenants back in their tent is that they all fear one thing, that their old records will be reopened,” the statement added.