• Senate President Saraki dumps APC, says cabal now in charge of govt
• Atiku, Secondus, senators hail move
Fred Itua, Romanus Ugwu and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja and Tunde Omolehin, Sokoto
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, yesterday, announced his defection from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to pitch his political tent with his former party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
This came a week after 14 senators from the APC cross-carpeted to the PDP and other political parties.
Saraki first broke the news on his Twitter handle. “I wish to inform Nigerians that, after extensive consultations, I have decided to take my leave from the All Progressives Congress (APC),” he wrote.
In a more elaborate statement he personally signed, Saraki said his alienation from the affairs of the party and the humiliation he has endured in the last three years, informed his decision to quit the ruling party.
He added that his people have also been subjected to persecution since the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari came on stream in 2015.
He alleged that there is an existence of a government within a government in the administration of Buhari.
According to him: “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 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 recognized as “one of us”. This is why my people, like all self-respecting people would do, decided to seek accommodation elsewhere.”
He said he decided to return to the PDP as it is evident that it 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 precondition for peace; a party that has realized that never again can the people of Nigeria be taken for granted,” he said.
In a related development, the Kwara State Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed also announced his defection to the PDP to put paid to weeks of speculation.
A statement by his media aide quoted the governor as saying that the defection was in response to calls by major stakeholder groups in the state.
“Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed today (yesterday) defected to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), having realised that the All Progressive Congress (APC) can no longer serve as a platform for achieving the aspirations and expectations of his people,” the statement noted.
Meanwhile, barring last minute change, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State will today officially declare his defection from the APC, a party source has confirmed.
A party source hinted that all APC ward leaders have been directed to mobilse their members to Sokoto, the state capital before 12 noon.
“It is true that all our members across the 23 local government council will converge in Government House tomorrow (Wednesday). In fact, three 18-seat busses have been allotted to each ward to rally support for our governor.”
The source also said no fewer than 19 members of the state House of Assembly, including the Speaker will declare their support for the governor.
PDP, Secondus, Atiku, others react
The PDP has welcomed Saraki, Governor, Ahmed and the Nigerian Ambassador to South Africa, Alhaji Ahmed Ibeto back to the party.
In statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, it said their defection could not have come at a better.
Also reacting, National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus and former vice president Atiku Abubakar hailed Saraki.
According to Secondus: “It is long overdue. He was the wrong place ab initio,” he said.
Atiku, in his a statement by his media aide, Paul Ibe, said: “Senator Saraki’s ordeal at the hand of the All Progressives Congress is all too familiar to lovers of democracy in Nigeria and around the world. Leaving a party which maliciously prosecuted him and subjected him to the most degrading treatment, notwithstanding his status as the nation’s number three citizen, took courage, and I commend him.
Close allies of Saraki-Dino Melaye and Samuel Anyanwu, in separate interviews, said the move was overdue.
Melaye said: “The defection is a good thing. APC is sick and cannot be cured. It’s sickness is incurable. This is a sign of what we should expect in 2019. I salute the courage of the Senate President to have taken that decision.”
On his part, Anyanwu said: “This is a homecoming for Saraki. The PDP is his party and I welcome him back home. This is good for our democracy. It means that APC is in trouble. APC is a sinking ship. It is a dying party and Nigerians can clearly see that. I urge other people who are still in APC to return to their family, which is the PDP.”
APC senators who are loyal to Buhari, declined any comments, when our correspondent contacted them for reactions.
However, a lawmaker from North West, who spoke in confidence, said the defection was expected.
“We are not shocked. Many more people will defect soon. But we are not bothered. Buhari is popular and nobody can defeat him. Saraki’s movement will not change anything,” he said.
APC won’t miss Saraki, says Okorocha
Governor of Imo State and Chairman of the APC Governors Forum, Owelle Rochas Okorocha has insisted that the defection of Saraki and Governor Ahmed will not affect President Buhari’s re-election in 2019.
“You should have asked me whether they told me when they joined the party and I don’t want to know when they are leaving the party. So, people are entitled you their opinion on how they see issues.
“Political party is just like a vehicle with which you get to the appointed destination and if they found that they can no longer get what they want in APC and they want to go to other parties, goodluck.
“But the question you should ask me is how does that affect the party in 2019? I don’t see in anyway how it has affected the party negatively and the issue there is that President Muhammadu Buhari will win this election come 2019.
“He is strong and firm, he will do better than he had done before in terms of electoral values. So, his (Saraki) defection is allowed. We shouldn’t make a big issue out of it. Saraki is entitled to his political opinion,” he said.