John Alechenu, Sola Fabiyi, Success Nwogu and Leke Bayeiwu
After weeks of speculations, the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, and the Kwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, have dumped the All Progressives Congress for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.
Saraki announced his decision in a statement on his verified social media accounts on twitter and Facebook on Tuesday. The statement on facebook read, “I wish to inform Nigerians that, after extensive consultations, I have decided to take my leave of the All Progressives Congress…”
Kwara gov defects to PDP
Ahmed on his part announced his decision via a statement issued on his behalf by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Communication, Dr. Muyideen Akorede, in Ilorin.
The statement read, “Following due consultations with the people and in response to calls by major stakeholder groups in the state, Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, today (Tuesday) defected to the PDP having realized that the APC can no longer serve as a platform for achieving the aspirations and expectations of his people.”
How I was pushed out of APC – Saraki
Saraki later issued a statement to explain why he had to dump the APC after he announced his defection through his social media accounts.
He stated, “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 opportunity for peace, reconciliation and harmonious existence.
“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 greater sense of belonging and where the interests of the greatest number of our Nigeria would be best served,” he said.
Saraki, who said he took full responsibility for the decision, emphasised that it was a decision that had 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.”
The Senate President said, “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 a basic precondition for peace and unity, not only within the party, but also the country at large, were simply ignored, or employed as 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.”
According to him, the framers of Nigeria’s constitution envisaged a degree of benign tension among the three arms of government if the principle of checks and balances must continue to serve as the building block of our democracy.
He said as Senate President and leader of the APC, he ensured that the necessary tension did not escalate at any time in such a way that it could encumber executive function or correspondingly undermine the independence of the legislature.
He added that he had over the years made great efforts in the overall interest of the country, and “in spite of my personal predicament to manage situations that would otherwise have resulted in unsavoury consequences for the government and the administration. My colleagues in the Senate will bear testimony to this.”
Saraki stressed, “However, what we have seen is a situation whereby every dissent from the legislature was framed as an affront to the executive or as part of an agenda to undermine the government itself. The populist notion of anti-corruption became a ready weapon for silencing any form of dissent and for framing even principled objection as ‘corruption fighting back.’
“Persistent onslaught against the legislature and open incitement of the people against their own representatives became a default argument in defence of any short-coming of the government in a manner that betrays all too easily, a certain contempt for the constitution itself or even the democracy that it is meant to serve.
“Unfortunately, the self-serving gulf that has been created between the leadership of the two critical arms of government based on distrust and mutual suspicion has made any form of constructive engagement impossible. Therefore, anything short of a slavish surrender in a way that reduces the legislature to a mere rubber stamp would not have been sufficient in procuring the kind of rapprochement that was desired in the interest of all.”
The Senate President however pointed out that to surrender this way was to be “complicit in the subversion of the institution that remains the very bastion of our democracy.”
He added, “The recent weeks have witnessed a rather unusual attempt to engage with some of these most critical issues at stake. Unfortunately, the discord has been allowed to fester unaddressed for too long, with dire consequences for the ultimate objective of delivering the common good and achieving peace and unity in our country. Any hope of reconciliation at this point was therefore very slim indeed. Most of the horses had bolted from the stable.”
Saraki noted that while Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, the newly elected National Working Committee of the APC led by the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, and state governors were working to reconcile aggrieved members, there were forces who worked against him and his followers in the party.
He said, “The emergence of a new national party executive a few weeks ago held out some hopes, however slender. The new party chairman has swung into action and did his best alongside some of the governors of the APC and His Excellency, the Vice-President. I thank them for all their great efforts to save the day and achieve reconciliation. Even though I thought these efforts were coming late in the day, but seeing the genuine commitment of these gentlemen, I began to think that perhaps it was still possible to reconsider the situation.
“However, as I have realised all along, there are some others in the party leadership hierarchy, who did not think dialogue was the way forward and therefore chose to play the fifth columnists. These individuals went to work and ensured that they scuttled the great efforts and the good intentions of these aforementioned leaders of the party. 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.”
While Saraki said he had returned to the PDP – a party he left for the APC, he alleged that the injustice that forced him out of the then ruling party was now in the current one.
“For me, I leave all that behind me. Today, I start as I return to the party where I began my political journey, the PDP.
“When we left the PDP to join the then nascent coalition of 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 lesson the hard way and has 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 realised that never again can the people of Nigeria be taken for granted,” Saraki said.
The Senate President expressed his excitement over the new efforts to build “the reborn PDP” on the core principles of promoting democratic values, internal democracy, accountability, inclusion and national competitiveness, genuine commitment to restructuring and devolution of powers as well as abiding belief in zoning of political and elective offices as an inevitable strategy for managing our rich diversity as a people of one great indivisible nation called Nigeria.
“This is the task that I am committing myself to and I believe that it is in this PDP, that I will have the opportunity to play my part. It is my hope that the APC will respect the choice that I have made as my democratic right, and understand that even though we will now occupy a different political space, we do not necessarily become enemies unto one another.”
All juicy appointments went to Katsina, Lagos – Saraki
Earlier in Ilorin on Tuesday, Saraki had met his supporters where he told them that he dumped the APC because of their insistence that he should do so and the guidance he received from God.
He further alleged that Kwara State was marginalised in terms of appointments by the APC.
Saraki spoke to journalists in Ilorin after a meeting attended by the state governor, all the members of the National Assembly from the state, 23 members of the state house of assembly and local government chairmen and members of the state executive council.
Saraki said, “We discussed this issue last week when I came home. You told me that you were tired of the APC, but I asked you to exercise patience. I told you that I will seek God’s guidance and feed you back on my return to Ilorin.
“The Federal Government appointed over 200 persons into juicy offices without allotting any slot to me or (Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu) Dogara. Everything went to Katsina, Katsina, Lagos, Lagos. If not for the love I have for Nigeria, we would have scattered everything. They don’t want us in their party. They don’t like us in Kwara.
“What I am after is for my people to enjoy dividend of democracy. I want us to be in the party that will love my people. Wherever we are, we will win elections. The governor told me he’s tired of the APC.
“Those we are talking to in the PDP have understood that we need to move Nigeria forward. There is no cause for alarm. We should forget about personal ambition as we move to a new party. What should be paramount in our minds is Nigeria’s progress. We will set up our committee which will be meeting with the PDP committee. I’ve met with great stakeholders in the PDP such as Prof. Sulaiman, Ajibola Simon and Yekini Alabi and we have all agreed to work together. We should cooperate with the PDP people who we are joining.”
Defection, end of APC’s merriment – Secondus
Reacting to the defection, the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, said the decision of the Senate President to quit the ruling party was a sign of the speed at which the ruling party was shrinking.
Secondus, said this in an interview with one of our correspondents, in Abuja. The PDP chairman equally expressed delight that Ahmed also took the decision to abandon the APC and pitch his tent with the PDP.
He said, “Gradually, the reality must now dawn on the national leadership of the APC that the merriment is over. We are expanding and they are shrinking.
“We just want to commend Saraki and the governor of Kwara State for their boldness and patronage. We commend them for being able to stand for the truth.
“We just want to ask others who are ready to join hands with patriotic Nigerians to wrest this country from the jaws of wicked rulers to do so without further delay.”
‘Tambuwal will join PDP this week’
One of our correspondents also gathered that the PDP was preparing to receive the Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, “anytime from now.”
A source close to the national leadership of the party said that Tambuwal had given them his words that he would defect from the APC “anytime from now.”
The source said, “Tambuwal will defect from the APC anytime from now. The waiting game is over. People can no longer stomach the injustice in the APC and they are ready to leave.
“We expect Tambuwal to join us before weekend. He is one of us. We know he’s coming. Many other governors and ministers are also coming.”
Saraki, Ahmed’s exit won’t affect our fortunes – APC govs
But the governors elected under the platform of the APC have said the Senate President and the Kwara governor’s defection will not affect the party’s fortunes.
The Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum, Rochas Okorocha, who spoke on behalf of the governors, said since Saraki had taken the decision to join another political party there was nothing anyone could do about it.
Okorocha who spoke to newsmen in Abuja, on Tuesday said, “You are asking me how that will affect the APC; that does not in any way affect the party negatively. The issue there is that President Muhammadu Buhari will win the 2019 election. He is much stronger on the ground now than before in terms of electoral value.
“It is allowed. As they are going, many other people are coming into the party in their thousands. So, it is neither here nor there and so, we should not make a big issue out of it.
“Saraki is entitled to his political opinion and if he wants to leave, good luck and if the Governor of Kwara, my colleague, wants to leave, good luck. They are all responsible men and you cannot tie them down to one place.”
Saraki and Ahmed announced their decision to quit APC barely 24 hours after the APC National Working Committee dissolved the state party executive loyal to them.
It also came a few hours after a group of protesters stormed the party national secretariat to demand their expulsion from the APC for anti-party activities.
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