It was another round of huge losses for the All Progressives Congress (APC) as Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and Kwara State governor, Alhaji Abdulfattah Ahmed, yesterday bade farewell to the ruling party.
Saraki and Ahmed have now pitched tent with their former party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Nigeria’s ambassador to South Africa, Alhaji Musa Ibeto, also dumped the APC for PDP.
Another APC governor, Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State is expected to dump the party today.
Tambuwal, New Telegraph learnt, is expected to leave APC with 24 members of the state’s House of Assembly and all the 23 local government chairmen in the state.
The remaining six members of the state assembly are said to be loyal to a former governor of the state, Senator Aliyu Wamakko.
The defections are coming on the heels of last week’s dumping of the ruling party by 14 APC senators and 36 members of the House of Representatives.
The lawmakers moved to the opposition PDP on Tuesday and Benue State governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom, followed suit on Wednesday.
Saraki and Ahmed made their defection public in separate announcements in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital yesterday.
Ahmed was first to announce his defection through a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Dr. Muideen Akorede.
“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 realised that the APC can no longer serve as a platform for achieving the aspirations and expectations of his people,” Akorede said.
Moments later, Saraki’s own came via a tweet on his Twitterhandle, @bukolasaraki, while meeting with leaders of his political structure across the state.
“I wish to inform Nigerians that after extensive consultations, I have decided to take my leave out of the APC,” Saraki stated.
The Senate President had arrived Ilorin at about 4:40p.m. yesterday in company of all members of the National Assembly from the state.
Saraki said his decision to dump the APC, which he helped into power in 2015, was based on the insistence of his supporters and the guidance he received from God.
Saraki made his decision known during a stakeholders’ meeting in his Ilorin residence.
In attendance at the meeting were Governor Ahmed, all members of the National Assembly from the state, 23 members of the state’s House of Assembly and local government chairmen and members of the state executive council.
He said: “We discussed this issue last week when I came home. You told me that you were tired of 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 Yakubu Dogara, the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Everything went to Katsina, 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 dividends 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 APC. Those we are talking to in 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 have met with great stakeholders in PDP such as Prof. Sulaiman, Ajibola Simon, Yekini Alabi and we have all agreed to work together. We should cooperate with PDP people who we are joining.”
Indications that Saraki and Ahmed will leave the APC emerged last week when the governor met with stakeholders in the party from across the three senatorial districts of Kwara State.
The Senate President noted during the meeting that APC has not met the expectations of the people of the state.
The stakeholders had insisted at the meeting that the Senate President and the governor should dump the APC and lead them to another party.
Meanwhile, National Publicity Secretary of APC and Saraki’s loyalist, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, who was also reported to have dumped the party yesterday, denied resigning his position.
There were reports that Abdullahi had resigned and moved his belongings away from the party secretariat, but the APC spokesperson told our correspondent on telephone that there was no iota of truth in the report.
It was gathered that Abdullahi had been absent from the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) meetings, a situation that had fuelled the speculation that he may have concluded arrangements to leave the party even as there is anxiety that he is a mole due to his closeness to Saraki.
But, Abdullahi told New Telegraph that he is not considering leaving the party, stressing that he came through the front door and will not go through the back door.
On his absence during the NWC meetings, he said that he actually notified the national leadership of the party of his absence.
His words: “It is not true that I have resigned, and let me emphasis that there is no iota of truth in it. I can understand where the speculation is coming from perhaps because I was absent during the NWC meeting on Monday.
“However, they didn’t know that I told my colleagues that I was away to Kwara State. I want to put it on record that I came through the front door and if I decide to leave, I will leave through the front door.”
Meanwhile, reactions, have trailed the defection of Saraki, Ahmed and Nigeria’s ambassador to South Africa, Ibeto, to the PDP, with the opposition party and its chieftains commending them for the move.
The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, noted that the coming of Saraki, Ahmed and Ibeto could not have come at a better time than now when Nigeria requires the input of genuine patriots to save her.
“Senator Saraki, in particular, has conducted the affairs of the Senate in reflection of the wishes of the silent majority of Nigerians and had emerged a hero of democracy. The party has no doubts that Senator Saraki, Governor Ahmed and Alhaji Ibeto will contribute immensely to the new order that engender good governance in our nation,” PDP said.
The party assured returning members of all the rights and privileges accruable to its members, adding: “Furthermore, the PDP calls on all Nigerians who are desirous of rescuing our nation from the incompetent administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to rally with party of choice, PDP, ahead of the 2019 elections.”
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar described Saraki’s resignation from the APC as a welcome development.
Atiku said Saraki’s ordeal in the hands of the APC 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.
“They have degraded our democracy and our economy,” he said.
Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, also congratulated Saraki and Ahmed for their courage to defect to PDP despite the intimidation and harassment of the Federal Government.
Wike, who said the level of impunity under the APC-led Federal Government surpasses what was obtainable during the military era, said: “I salute the Senate President Bukola Saraki and Kwara State governor for being bold to say that they will not be intimidated. I welcome them to the PDP which is being rebranded to take over the leadership of the country in 2019.
“More governors and senior politicians will still defect in the coming days. This regime of intimidation and harassment emboldens us. It strengthens us to stand against tyranny and impunity.
“It emboldens us to stand firm because of the interest of the people. We will resist any attempt to coerce us to cave in. Even under the military, there has not been this nature of impunity. We are determined and we have made up our minds to rescue Nigeria.”
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