Defection: Saraki, Ortom, Tambuwal, Ahmed in closed-door meeting with PDP leaders
In what seemed to be a move towards a major realignment of forces ahead of the 2019 general elections, some senior members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and some high ranking members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) met in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital on Wednesday.
Leading the APC pack was the Senate President, Bukola Saraki. Others at the meeting were Governors Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara), Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto) and Samuel Ortom (Benue); as well as a Benue senator, Barnabas Gemade.
On the PDP side came the National Chairman, Uche Secondus, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, party spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, and a presidential hopeful and former Jigawa governor, Sule Lamido.
The about one hour meeting held at Mr Saraki’s Ilorin home after the eight-day Islamic prayers for Aishat, mother of the former leader of the nPDP, Kawu Baraje.
However, Mr Ologbondiyan when contacted later by journalists, said it was merely a meeting of like-minds.
“It was a meeting of the like-minds which was also basically about the interest of the betterment of the country,” he said.
Also, Muideen Akorede, media aide to the Kwara governor, in a statement said the politicians were only in Kwara for burial programme.
Messrs Saraki, Ahmed, Ortom, Tambuwal and Gemade were all members of the PDP but defected to the APC shortly before the 2015 general elections.
Saraki confers with Buhari, Osinbajo
The Ilorin meeting was to trigger a chain of events. The following day, Thursday, the Senate President Bukola Saraki met with President Muhammadu Buhari and his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo, at the Presidential Villa.
Also in attendance were four APC governors, namely Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Aminu Masari (Katsina) and Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi) as well as the governor-elect of Ekiti State.
Although the agenda of the meeting was not disclosed, there were indications that it was convened to prevail on the senate president not to dump the APC.
There have been speculations that Mr Saraki alongside the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, some senators and members of the House of Representatives and other top politicians who were former members of the PDP are on their way back to the party.
Indeed, the announcement of the birth of the R-APC a forthnight ago and its subsequent teaming up with 38 opposition parties to form the Coalition for United Political Parties (CUPP) fueled those speculations.
Ortom Hints At Defection, Makes U-turn
Also on Thursday, the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole met with the Benue State Governor. Mr Ortom, at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja.
The parley followed Mr Ortom’s hint on Monday that his party had issued him a “red card.” He alleged that the red card was given to favour a former governor of the state, George Akume, currently the Senate Minority Whip.
In the game of football, a red card is given to a player to signify that he has been sent off the field. When a player is red carded, he no longer takes part in that game.
“As for party, I have been given a red card and I’m outside the pitch,” Mr Ortom said while inaugurating his special adviser on Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Jerome Torshimbe, in Makurdi.
“So, if I have been given red card and I’m standing outside, I’m a free man. So, I don’t know what will happen next, but I’m waiting. I’m a child of destiny and it’s only God that will decide what I will be.”
On Wednesday while on a visit to his Kwara counterpart, Abdulfatah Ahmed, Mr Ortom repeated his ordeal in the hands of the Benue APC but expressed hope that the national leadership of the party could upturn the decision of the state chapter.
At the end of the meeting with Mr Oshiomhole that Thursday, Mr Ortom announced to journalists that he was still a member of the ruling party.
“I was given red card by the senator who is their leader in Benue State and I took it as serious enough.”
“But the leadership of the party told me that the decision of the party leadership at the national level is superior to any individual and I think that is good enough.
”We have spoken to him (Oshiomhole), he has spoken to me, stakeholders are going to be spoken to and that is where I belong. We have not concluded the matter, it is an ongoing process because I have always stood for peace and I always want peace to prevail.
“I am here in APC, a member of APC, I am still flying the flag of APC and I only said I was given red card. I’ve been corrected by the national secretariat.”
On his part, Mr Oshiomhole said, “APC does not have a red card in our cupboard so we can’t give what we don’t have……. Governor Ortom is not going anywhere, he is a very prominent member of our party, we appreciate his leadership in Benue and we will do everything possible to help those who have issues to have those issues resolved.”
Fayemi Receives Certificate Of Return
The governor-elect of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, and his running mate, Bisi Egbeyemi, were on Thursday issued with the Certificates of Return following their victory in the July 14 governorship election in the state.
The INEC National Commissioner in charge of Oyo, Ekiti and Osun States, Adedeji Soyebi, presented them with the certificates at a ceremony in the commission’s office in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital.
The commission had on Saturday night declared Mr Fayemi, who ran on the ticket of the APC, winner of the election in which 34 other parties presented candidates.
Mr Fayemi, the immediate past minister for steel development, secured 197,459 votes to defeat his closest challenger, Olusola Eleka, of the Peoples Democratic Party who scored 178,121 votes. None of the other 33 candidates had up to 10,000 votes.
Mr Eleka, a professor, is the incumbent deputy governor of the state.
At the ceremony, Mr Fayemi, who incidentally was governor of the state between 2010 and 2104, said Ekiti people would enjoy the benefit of good governance from October 16 when he would be inaugurated.
In his remarks, Mr Soyebi noted that the presentation of the Certificate of Return marked the end of the process of the governorship election in the state.
Osun APC, PDP Get Governorship Candidate
Adegboyega Oyetola, the Chief of Staff to the outgoing Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, on Saturday morning emerged the APC candidate for the September 22 governorship election in the state.
He polled 127,017 votes to defeat his closest rival, Lasun Yusuff, the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, who got 21,975 votes.
Mr Oyetola, who hails from Iragbiji, is reportedly a cousin of a national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu.
The chairman of the electoral panel, Governor AbdulAziz Yari of Zamfara State, who was represented by a senator, Ovie Omo-Agege, while announcing the result, urged other aspirants to support the winner to make sure the main election is won by the APC.
Earlier, some aspirants had withdrawn from the race. They include the Secretary to the State Government, Moshood Adeoti, who had alleged through his campaign organisation, that the primary was a mere endorsement of Mr Oyetola, whom he described as a cousin of Mr Tinubu.
Also, the senator representing Osun East, Babajide Omoworare, and Kunle Adegoke also withdrew leaving about 17 other aspirants to slug it out.
For the PDP, the senator representing Osun West, Ademola Adeleke, emerged the party’s candidate on Saturday.
Mr Adeleke polled 1569 votes to defeat his closest rival, Akin Ogunbiyi, who got 1562 votes in the primary supervised by a panel headed by Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State.
Earlier, seven out of 11 aspirants announced their withdrawal from the exercise held in Osogbo, the Osun State capital,
The aspirants are Adejare Bello, former speaker of the State House of Assembly, Adeolu Durotoye, Jide Adeniji, Olasunkanmi Akinlabi, Ayoade Adewopo, Lere Oyewumi and Felix Ogunwale.
They said they stepped down from the race due to appeal from the party’s leadership and also to ensure cohesion within the party.
This left only Mr Adeleke, Mr Ogunbiyi, Fatai Akinbade (a former Secretary to State Government) and Nathaniel Oke, a lawyer, in the race.
Mr Adeleke is a brother to a former governor of the state, late Isiaka Adeleke whom he also replaced in the Senate last year.
A former senator and deputy governor of the state, Iyiola Omisore, had emerged the candidate of a faction of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Atiku Announces Bid For Presidency
A former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, on Saturday formally announced his plan to run for president on the PDP.
Mr Abubakar announced his intention in Yola, the capital of Adamawa State, his home state.
This will be the fifth time the former vice president will be showing interest for the job.
In 1992, he showed interest in running the country on the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party, SDP, in the Third Republic. He came third in the party’s presidential primary.
In the 2007 presidential election, Mr Abubakar ran for the first time for the nation’s topmost political job on the platform of the defunct Action Congress, AC, but came a distant third, behind the then Governor of Katsina State, Umaru Yar’Adua of the PDP and Muhammadu Buhari of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change.
In 2011, shortly after he returned the PDP, the party on whose ticket he was vice president, he ran against Mr. Jonathan at the primary election, but lost.
In 2014, he contested the APC primary but also came third after Mr Buhari and the then governor of Kano State, Rabi’u Kwankwaso.
At Saturday’s Yola rally, Mr Abubakar, who returned to the PDP last December, decried the large-scale killings that have touched many parts of the country in recent months.
“Today, we are witnessing the most insecure atmosphere,” he told a huge crowd chanting “Atiku! Atiku!”
“Today, we have the highest unemployment rate in history of this country, more than one million of our youth are unemployed,” Mr Abubakar said, adding that the PDP would secure the country, ensure unity and security of life and property.”
He added, “Today, we are more divided than at any other time in Nigeria’s history.”
At the rally were the National Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus, his campaign director and a former Ogun governor, Gbenga Daniel, and a senator, Ben Murray-Bruce, who also emceed the televised event.
PDP threatens to boycott 2019 polls
While receiving a Joint International Election Observation Mission fielded by two American international civil agencies, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI), the PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus, hinted that the party might boycott the 2019 poll.
According to him, the party was consulting with its relevant organs, and was reviewing the July 14 Ekiti governorship election.
He said the election was rigged and that the party contested against the Independent National Electoral Commission and the security agencies, not the APC.
“In Ekiti State governorship election last Saturday, we did not contest with APC we contested with INEC and Security agencies,” Mr Secondus told his guests.
“Ekiti election is strategic to the general election in 2019 and from what happened we are consulting with our people to see whether we would participate in the election or not.”
Mr Secondus said there were clear indications for all to see that the ruling APC was scheming to engineer more crisis in the land to enable them manipulate the electorate process in their favour in connivance with security agencies.
“For us as an opposition party we have lost confidence on INEC and security agencies,” he said.