APC Talks Tough As Tambuwal Defects To PDP
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has dismissed as immaterial, yesterday’s defection of Sokoto governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and other members of the party who have been decamping in the past few days, saying it is neither distracted nor surprised by the gale of defections blowing across the party. Barely 24 hours after Senate President Bukola Saraki and Kwara State governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed announced their return to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Tambuwal yesterday followed suit by formally defecting to the PDP. The political fortunes of APC further dwindled yesterday as national publicity secretary of the party, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, and 23 of the 24 members of the Kwara State House of Assembly led by Speaker of the House, Dr Ali Ahmad, also defected to the PDP. Reacting to the defections, APC said the defectors have the right and freedom to pursue their political ambitions wherever they desired. In the statement by its deputy national publicity secretary, Yekini Nabena, the party also saluted the resolution of the defectors to come openly and declare where they had all the while belonged. The party advised Saraki, Ahmed, Tambuwal, Abdullahi and other decampees to maintain in their respective environments, the spirit and atmosphere of “freedom created by the APC, which enabled them to leave without let or hindrance.” The statement titled, ‘APC Neither Surprised Nor Disturbed by Defections’, noted that APC remains focused on continuing its unbroken run of victories in all future elections at the state and national levels. It asked APC members across the country to encourage one another in the streets “teeming with APC members and supporters from North to South, and East to West.” The statement made available to LEADERASHIP reads: “The defection of Senate President Bukola Saraki; Governors Abdulfatah Ahmed and Aminu Tambuwal of Kwara and Sokoto States; National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi; and others, to the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) neither surprises nor distracts the All Progressives Congress (APC). Every follower of events in recent times could decipher the signs that foretold the exit of Saraki, Tambuwal, Ahmed, Abdullahi, from our great party. “We thank them for their contributions to the APC for the period they were with us. We also salute their courage to openly declare where they belong, as we had always advised. “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 fit. “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”. APC further noted that as a party, its attention is on the matter on ground, which is the 2019 general election, adding that its members are united and focused, with a keen eye to continuation of the party’s winning streak in all elections this year, next year and beyond. “To our members in Kwara, Sokoto and the other 34 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), remain steadfast and courageous. Encourage one another in our streets teeming with APC members and supporters from North to South, and East to West”, the party concluded. Also, the national chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole noted that nobody in the party is surprised about the gale of defections. Speaking to State House correspondents yesterday after Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, led APC Senators to a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Oshiomhole said as a matter of fact, the defectors stayed a little bit longer than the party thought. He said, “Last week, the Kwara State governor was alluded to have said he was leaving but he didn’t say when. So, we are not surprised at all. But these are what I might call tempting moments because I had faced similar situations in my state when people were leaving. “But the beauty of democracy is that whether big or small, it is one man one vote. On Election Day, there is no difference between a Senator, a president, a journalist and any other person”. Oshiomole expressed delight that the Senate president, as a mark of honour, accepted that he was not leaving because the new leadership did not make effort. He noted: “He (Saraki) admitted that not only did I do everything possible along with the Vice President, with some governors and we had meeting with the president, but he argued that those efforts came too late. But I couldn’t have started acting before I was born. “As it stands even now, APC is still the largest party in the Senate. We have 53 senators. That is much more than PDP has or APGA has. So, I think the important thing is that our democracy is still evolving. There are a couple of lessons to learn from the development. “Going forward, we will expect the system to get stronger to the extent that it is able to learn the correct lessons and take the correct steps to profit from these developments. I have made this point and some commentators who don’t seem to understand take one part of the argument and leave the other”. Oshiomhole continued: “I have said that if people have genuine, verifiable grievances, we are committed even now to listen and address those grievances in what I call win-win manner. I have been consistent with that during campaign, I have been consistent since I was sworn in, I have made the points in my acceptance speech. “I have emphasized this when I met with the Senate caucus and speech, I have emphasized this when I met with the House of Representatives caucus, that we are ready to do justice to anyone who is genuinely aggrieved and whose grievances are such that we can deal with them provided we enthroned Justice, fairness and most sides purge themselves of any arrogance. “To the best of my knowledge all senators, house of reps members were happy, the ones that are not negotiable there is nothing we can do about it,” he said. On his part, Senate Leader, Lawan, insisted that the APC is still the majority party in the Upper House despite the gale of defections. He challenged PDP to come out with the names of their lawmakers, saying their number stands at 48. He stated: “Also, I believe that as a party, we will continue to consult, unite and solidify and the national chairman has just told you that the APC remains the majority in the Senate. We have 53 Senators; we reeled out the names and the states. “Though the other side are claiming they are 60, 70 but they have never given a name. It is left for you to make your judgement. In fact, I am using this medium to challenge the names of the PDP Senators. We have published ours and among the 53 none has come out to deny that he is APC. \”Let them publish their own, they remain 48 senators in PDP. And by the grace of God, when they by-elections in Bauchi and Katsina will hold, we will get two Senators and that will boost our number”. He also appealed to his colleagues to reconvene to consider the requests of the president for the virement and supplementary budget for INEC budget for the 2019 elections. Meanwhile, a mammoth crowd yesterday gathered at the Sokoto Government House to formally receive the state governor, Aminu Tambuwal, back to PDP. The crowd, consisting of APC members and those of PDP in the state started trooping into Sokoto Government House, venue of the defection, as early as 7:00am. Giving reasons for his decision, Tambuwal said, “I stand before you with a heavy heart, wishing I had cheering words that recounts progress, instead of sad report that I am constrained to give you on the situation of our dear nation”. The governor added that Nigeria has gone through thick and tin to bring about democracy in 1999 after the military rule that almost eroded the country. He added that since 1999 Nigeria has continued to pass through diverse leadership with Obasanjo and Ya’Adua’s era being the most cherished. Tambuwal further stressed that though Jonathan’s regime from 2011 was relatively fair but they took on him for allowing massive killings of Nigerians without any measure in sight to stop it, just as they also took on him for allowing unprecedented corruption. He said, “Through those years, the forces of genuine change gravitated and by 2015 merged to ensure a transition of power that Nigerians hoped would herald a new order of true democracy under an atmosphere of justice, peace, equity and rule of law. The leaders of that coalition represented and symbolized the aspiration of Nigerians for progress and prosperity under one united, indivisible nation. “As the Speaker of the House of Representatives then, I left my comfort zone to be involved in the struggle for enthronement of purposeful leadership for the citizens of our dear country. “Now, almost four years into what ought to be a new order as desired and elected by Nigerians, the nation is going through the most difficult and precarious times since the Civil War, with ethno, religious and regional distrust at its highest ebb”. He said rather than providing noticeable solutions to the challenges created by the glaring brazen inequity in capacity and distribution of appointments/projects and lack of statesmanship in responding to national issues amongst other reasons that has aggravated the national anomaly, the Buhari-led government continues to blame past leaders for his failures. Tambuwal added that he consulted far and wide despite pressure from locals on how APC has failed before coming to the conclusion that the inequity and bad governance is worrisome. He continued: “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 major raw materials with which the Nigerian State is being run today. “It is 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 Progressive Congress and return to the People’s Democratic Party”. The governor further said that the Buhari government has not fulfilled any of its cardinal campaign promises to Nigerians, adding that corruption under the present government is on the rise, standard of living in Nigeria is at its lowest ebb and perceived enemies are being targeted for fight against corruption. Party Spokesman, Bolaji, 22 Kwara Lawmakers Dump APC Meanwhile, national publicity secretary of the APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, and 23 of the 24 members of the Kwara State House of Assembly led by Speaker of the House, Dr Ali Ahmad, yesterday defected to the PDP. Bolaji formally resigned his appointment and membership of the party, citing the usurpation of his role by subordinates and the constant attempt by the party leadership at second-guessing his actions due to his closeness to Senate President Bukola Saraki as reasons for leaving the party. The absence of the former Minister of Sports during the regular Monday meeting of the APC National Working Committee (NWC) had fueled speculations that he may have concluded arrangements to leave the part. In a statement he signed yesterday, Abdullahi said, “In view of recent political developments in the country and within the All Progressives Congress (APC), I have decided to resign my position as the National Publicity Secretary as well as my membership of the party with effect from today. “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. “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”. In Kwara where Bolaji hails from, 23 of the 24 members of the State House of Assembly led by Speaker Ahmad, defected to the PDP, leaving Hon Saheed Popoola from Offa as the only remaining state legislator in the APC fold. The Speaker of the House announced the defection of the 23 legislators in a statement he read on the floor of the Assembly in Ilorin. The defection of the lawmakers came less than 24 hours after Senate President Saraki and Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed announced their defections from the ruling party. Ahmad said the decision was permitted by Section 109 (1)(g) of the Constitution and that it was reached after wide consultations with their constituents who have become disillusioned with the APC. In the 10-paragraph statement, Ali said the defection brought to him a sigh of relief, having been ‘terribly sad’ about the decision to dump the PDP in 2014. “Today I am the happiest leaving the APC for good. I wish I was never a member of the party”, Ali said. He noted that since the APC came into power in 2015, keen watchers of political events in the country had concluded that it was not a party that could lead Nigeria out of the woods. “Unarguably, the intrigues and power play that birthed the long drawn legal battle with key members of the party over phantom allegations coupled with the arbitrary use of government institutions such as the police and anti-corruption agencies for harassment and intimidation of perceived opponents in power since APC assumed power has dealt a heavy blow to governance”, he said. The Speaker said such act of illegality has turned Nigeria into an object of ridicule among the comity of nations, adding that “with the current unprecedented spate of disobedience to court rulings, the present administration at the national level has redefined government as government of the cabal by the cabal and for the cabal thereby throwing the rule of law, the bedrock of democracy, to the dogs”. APC Appoints Nabena Acting Spokesman Meanwhile, the NWC of the APC has approved the appointment of Mr Yekini Nabena as acting national publicity of the party. The appointment followed the resignation of the erstwhile national publicity secretary of the party, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, who defected to the PDP yesterday. A letter of appointment signed by APC national secretary, Mai Mala Buni and addressed to Yekini Nabena, to this effect noted: “ I write to convey the resolution of the National Working Committee reached at its 34th Regular Meeting of 1st August, 2018, mandating you to resume duty as the Acting National Publicity Secretary with immediate effect. “This development is sequel to the resignation from the party by Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi as the National Publicity Secretary. While wishing you success in your services to the party, please accept the assurances of our highest regards”. PDP, Atiku Welcome Tambuwal, Others Meanwhile, the PDP yesterday described the return of Sokoto State governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal’s to its fold as courageous and patriotic, stressing that it shows him as a statesman who puts the interest of the nation above all. Similarly, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar congratulated Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State and Governor Tambuwal of Sokoto State and Nigeria’s Ambassador to South Africa, Alhaji Ahmed Ibeto, for rejoining the PDP. A statement by PDP’s national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said, “In welcoming Governor Tambuwal, the PDP notes that he had continued to conduct his activities in strict adherence to democratic principles both as former Speaker of the House of Representatives and executive governor of Sokoto state. “The party therefore has no doubts that Governor Tambuwal will indeed contribute immensely towards the rebuilding of our dear nation on the platform of the PDP”. On his part, Atiku said, “When in December 2017, the Waziri Adamawa said that the APC has to embrace the true tenets of democracy or lose its soul, he was greeted with hostility and his warnings were scorned. “At that time, Atiku Abubakar had warned that without justice, there could be no unity and without internal democracy there could be no internal cohesion. “Atiku Abubakar therefore calls on all true lovers of democracy and progress to, like Aminu Tambuwal and Abdulfatah Ahmed, emancipate themselves from the faux democracy practiced in the APC and move over to the only party capable of entrenching genuine democracy in Nigeria and economic progress for Nigerians. “He further calls on the Federal Government to respect the decisions of those now voting with their feet and ensure that they are not persecuted by security officials and law enforcement agencies”. Saraki Slowed Down Our Progress, Says FG Meanwhile, the federal government yesterday accused Senate President Bukola Saraki of deliberately slowing down the progress of the APC-led federal government in the last three years. Speaking to State House correspondents on the defection of Saraki to PDP, Minister of information, Lai Mohammed, stated that the Senate president had behaved all along as a member of the opposition. He said, “If Senate President Bukola Saraki were not a member of the APC, the party and the government it leads could not have suffered more than they had already done with regards to the delay in passing the budget, approving key appointments and so on. “In other words, Saraki has behaved all along as a member of the opposition, deliberately slowing down the progress of the APC-led federal government”. Mohammed, however, noted that it is neither a surprise nor a blow that Saraki defected, saying the only surprise is that when he eventually defected it was a mere whimper. “If we didn’t gain by having our member as Senate President, we stand to lose nothing by losing him”, he added. He further explained that at the state level, the APC could only be stronger in Kwara as members have come together to strengthen the party. He said, “realizing this, the true APC members in the state have come together to strengthen the party, open its doors to new members and reposition it for the 2019 elections, with a view to delivering Kwara to President Muhammadu Buhari. “This was what we did this past weekend, and you saw the way the people reacted. Yet, what happened at the weekend was not even a rally. It was a consultative stakeholders’ meeting. And it was a defining moment for the millions of Kwarans seeking political direction and emancipation”. Thanking the national leadership of the party for hearkening to their demands by dissolving the state exco and constituting a caretaker committee, he said it offers a fresh start for the APC in Kwara. PMB Meets APC Govs Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday night entered into a closed-door meeting with governors elected on the platform of the APC. Although details of the meeting, which took place at the presidential villa was still sketchy, LEADERSHIP gathered that it was not unconnected with the gale of defections that has blown across the governing party of recent. It was learnt that the president met with the governors to discuss ways of forging on with plans ahead of the 2019 general election. So far, sixteen governors are in attendance at the meeting which commenced at 9:45pm. Those in attendance were Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Akinwumi Ambode (Lagos), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Kashim Shettima (Borno), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), and Abubakar Bello of Niger. Others are:Nasir El Rufai of Kaduna, Simon Lalong of Plateau, Mohammed Jibrilla of Adamawa, Abubakar Bugudu of Kebbi and Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo state, Aminu Masari of Katsina, Governor Tanko Almakura of Nasarawa, and Godwin Obaseki of Edo. The Deputy Governor of Osun state, Grace Titilayo Laoye- Tomori represented the Osun Governor.