For APC, the Exodus Continues


    Saturday POLITY 


    With the events of last week which saw Governor Samuel Ortom and lawmakers at federal and state assemblies exiting the ruling All Progressives Congress in droves and the predicted increase in the number and quality of more to leave the party, one needed no crystal ball to predict who would be next as the intra-party cat and mouse relationship showed no sign of abetting.

    That was inspite of some nocturnal horse-trading and consultations where the strong men spoke tersely by day and went begging at night. From all indications, two schools of thought appear to be possibilities. It is either those elected were not in control or that those calling the shots do so without consulting their principal.

    The second is that the powers that be were selling dummies to those they appeared to be conciliating with while ambushing them as manifested in the rapprochement between President Muhammadu Buhari and some arrowheads of the defection. However, before the kunu they drank during the meeting could have been absorbed, in a typical military tactics, they were ambushed though with little success and the coffin of defection was nailed and carried to a point of no return.

    From the time the federal lawmakers installed their leadership without following the directives of the party stalwarts both the presidency and the legislature had been playing the hawk and the dove as it suited each of them, hence it was a matter of time before the predator attitude claimed its prizes.

    It was said that the meeting between Buhari and Bukola Saraki was the last ditch effort at saving the APC the defections and actually was the reason Saraki himself did not announce his defection the day he was supposed to have been impeached. However, providence appear to have worked in his favour as by the time he dumped the ruling party and joined the Peoples Democratic Party, the then opposition party had attained the majority in the Senate, thereby putting him in a better stead to manage the affairs of the chambers till 2019 politicking attains full steam when less premium would be placed on its activities.

    The list of the confirmed latest decampees from APC to PDP include Saraki, Governor of Kwara State, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed and majority of the state lawmakers and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal and majority of his state assembly members. This is added to the latest information from Kano where former governors Musa Kwankwaso and Ibrahim Shekarau that had been working at cross purposes agreed to work together against APC. The import is that majority of the Kano State Assembly are already out of the ruling APC.

    Spokesman of APC, Alhaji Bolaji Abdullahi whose defection was still a matter of speculation earlier in the week has also joined the long list of those dropping the broom for the umbrella as he lamented that his position as spokesman of the party was continuously and blatantly usurped by some powerful elements in the party.

    Also earlier in the week, a meeting of the APC to assess the current gale of defections and its possible effects on the fortunes of the party in 2019 was not attended by some of the members which fueled speculations that even some who were still in the fold may be contemplating defection.

    Another sign that the defections may be hitting harder than it has been made to appear is that erstwhile vocal officials claiming that the development would not have any effect on the electoral fortunes of the party in 2019 like the Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole appear to have withdrawn into the cocoons of reality, thereby losing his voice and his signature boasts.

    The numbing aspect of the defections is that places that had been considered the stronghold of President Buhari especially have been targets of the defection like a blow to the jugular. However, the President’s handlers appear confident, maybe relying on variables that are not common knowledge.

    All the decampees, apart from loyalties, have claimed the APC failed to deliver their expected results while their voices were not heard or that their suggestions to make for better deliveries pitched them against those that ran the party like tribal estates, mostly the same reasons they gave few years back while dumping the same PDP they are returning to, a pointer to the lack of ideology in the political space of the country.

    Saraki stated while announcing his defection that, “I wish to inform Nigerians that, after extensive consultations, I have decided to take my leave of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

    “This is not a decision that I have made lightly. If anything at all, I have tarried for so long and did all that was humanly possible, even in the face of great provocation, ridicule and flagrant persecution, to give an opportunity for peace, reconciliation and harmonious existence.

    “Perhaps, more significantly, I am mindful of the fact that I carry on my shoulder a great responsibility for thousands of my supporters, political associates and friends, who have trusted in my leadership and have attached their political fortunes to mine.

    “However, it is after an extensive consultation with all the important stakeholders that we have come to this difficult but inevitable decision to pitch our political tent elsewhere; where we could enjoy a greater sense of belonging and where the interests of the greatest number of our Nigerians would be best served.

    “While I take full responsibility for this decision, I will like to emphasise that it is a decision that has been inescapably imposed on me by certain elements and forces within the APC who have ensured that the minimum conditions for peace, cooperation, inclusion and a general sense of belonging did not exist.

    “They have done everything to ensure that the basic rules of party administration, which should promote harmonious relations among the various elements within the party, were blatantly disregarded. All governance principles which were required for a healthy functioning of the party and the government were deliberately violated or undermined. And all entreaties for justice, equity and fairness as basic preconditions for peace and unity, not only within the party, but also the country at large, were simply ignored, or employed as an additional pretext for further exclusion.

    “The experience of my people and associates in the past three years is that they have suffered alienation and have been treated as outsiders in their own party. Thus, many have become disaffected and disenchanted. At the same time, opportunities to seek redress and correct these anomalies were deliberately blocked as a government-within-a-government had formed an impregnable wall and left in the cold, everyone else who was not recognised as “one of us”. This is why my people, like all self-respecting people, would do, decided to seek accommodation elsewhere,” Saraki said.

    He regretted that dissent which is an ingredient in democracy was seen as an affront to the presidency which the cabal would move to mete out punishment using anti-corruption mantra, “framing even principled objection as ‘corruption fighting back’. The constitution, he continued was seen as a mere paper as could be gleaned from responses of those who called the shots.

    He acknowledged efforts by some people to save the situation though they acted late, some still felt that dialogue was not the way to go, adding, “Perhaps, had these divisive forces not thrown the cogs in the wheel at the last minutes, and in a manner that made it impossible to sustain any trust in the process, the story today would have been different.

    “For me, I leave all that behind me. Today, I start as I return to the party where I began my political journey, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

    “When we left the PDP to join the then-nascent coalition of All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2014, we left in a quest for justice, equity and inclusion; the fundamental principles on which the PDP was originally built but which it had deviated from. We were attracted to the APC by its promise of change. We fought hard along with others and defeated the PDP.

    “In retrospect, it is now evident that the PDP has learnt more from its defeat than the APC has learnt from its victory. The PDP that we return to is now a party that has learnt its lessons the hard way and have realised that no member of the party should be taken for granted; a party that has realised that inclusion, justice and equity are basic preconditions for peace; a party that has realized that never again can the people of Nigeria be taken for granted.”

    He pleaded the alienation of some parts of the country from the scheme of things in a way that injured their Nigerianess as an area that must be quickly addressed to salvage the country.

    Tambuwal who acted a similar script with Saraki in 2014 said he was announcing his defection to PDP with a heavy heart over failure of expectations of what they set out to achieve in 2015 when they merged with others they believed were progressives under one united indivisible nation which he noted had met with failure.

    “Now, almost four years into what ought to be a new order as desired and elected by Nigerians, the nation is unfortunately going through the most difficult and precarious times, since the Civil war; with ethno, religious and regional distrust at its highest ebb.

    “This development had often been blamed on political opponents. Meanwhile, there are issues of brazen inequity and capacity and questionable distribution of appointments/projects. This is in addition to lack of statesmanship in responding to national issues, among other things that are for aggravating the anomaly.

    “In line with the best traditions in any major political decision, especially by a serving elected Governor, I have painstakingly consulted far and wide, on whether the present political platform is a viable vehicle for achieving the aspiration of our people.

    “It is because I am convinced that no nation can thrive while there is inequity and bad governance; because I am saddened by the fact that lethargy, incompetence and sustained denial of obvious leadership missteps have become the major raw materials with which the Nigerian State is being run today; because I am unwilling to be part of frightful conspiracy against the cohesion of the Nigerian State, Nigerian youths and peoples; because I am unable to feel at ease in the face of a progressively divided nation and, above all, because I am totally unable to reconcile myself to a national leadership that offers no redeeming moral beacons that I am here with you today; to announce withdrawal of my membership of the All Progressives Congress and return to the People’s Democratic Party.

    “I speak to you today with a mixture of sadness and relief because I did not expect that the APC, which promised so much when the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) stood under the sway of impunity, could not maintain or manage whatever good it inherited. It has also not broken new grounds in any positive sense but has instead reached historically unprecedented heights of impunity in all manner of vices far above and beyond the challenges which made some of us to leave the PDP about four years ago to join others to form the APC. The party has brazenly turned itself into a sanctuary for the corrupt and a machine for rigging and for the rape of democracy.

    “Let me also put it on record that all attempts to discuss the electoral promises of the APC-led government, including the restructuring of the country as promised Nigerians and as contained in the APC manifesto, have proved abortive,” he lamented.

    It appeared the Buhari administration provided the arsenal with which it was being attacked with the abandoning of campaign promises and manifesto of the APC as Tambuwal cited the killings that have pervaded the country, lack of federal projects in his state while good governance had deteriorated from where they took over form the PDP.

    “Good governance, viz-a-viz economic wellbeing of our people, remains the major reason for my action of today. Information from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows that over nine million jobs have been lost in the last 3 years, since the APC Government came into office. While youth unemployment rate was 11.70 per cent during the fourth quarter of 2014, it rose to 33.10 per cent in third quarter of 2017 under the APC Government. The economy is not showing any real signs of improvement. Our educational and health institutions are in retreat. Poverty is on rampage and still ravages the land. It is unacceptable that majority of those who voted for APC in 2015 should have nothing good to show for it,” he concluded.