The defection of Senate President Bukola Saraki as well as that of Governors of Kwara and Sokoto states from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), dominated political discourse last week.
Also in the news was the reaction of President Muhammadu Buhari and leadership of the APC to the defections, as well as the declaration of intent to run for president by Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State under the PDP.
Barely 24 hours before Mr Saraki announced he was leaving the APC, the National Working Committee (NEC) of the party announced the dissolution of its Kwara State executive of the party loyal to the senate president.
The dissolution was announced in a resolution signed by the party’s National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, and its National Secretary, Mai Mala Buni, on Monday in Abuja after a meeting of the NWC.
The following day, Mr Saraki formally announced his departure from the APC.
The Kwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, made a similar announcement at about the same time.
Mr Saraki first made his announcement on his official social media handles.
While Mr Saraki said he was forced out of the party by some of its top leaders through their actions, the Kwara governor said the allegations by the Nigerian Police that he and Mr Saraki had links to armed robbers influenced his decision.
Both of them returned to the PDP.
Following the development, the APC urged the senate president to quit the office after he defected to the opposition.
The APC, through Mr Oshiomhole, said Mr Saraki should act honourably and relinquish his position.
“But whatever is the reason, we can decamp from the party but we can’t decamp from Nigeria. The only thing is that there are other consequential issues that every man or woman of honour, who had taken such decisions would be expected to follow through,” party chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, told journalists Wednesday.
On his part, President Muhammadu Buhari, who spoke in Lome, Togo, said he was not bothered about the defections.
The president made his feelings known while responding to a question during an interactive session with the Nigerian community in Togo at the Nigerian Embassy, Lome.
Governors elected under the platform of the APC also met with Mr Buhari Wednesday night and assured him that they would ensure there were no more defections in the APC.
Like Mr Saraki, Nigeria’s Ambassador to South Africa, Ahmed Ibeto, also joined the PDP and resigned his position.
Mr Ibeto, a former deputy governor of Niger State, was appointed ambassador by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Mr Ibeto reportedly submitted his resignation letter at the foreign affairs ministry.
Nigeria’s main opposition party, PDP, also confirmed on Tuesday that Mr Ibeto has joined its fold after leaving the APC.
LAWMAKER ADVISES FG, DEFECTORS
In his reaction to the defections, a federal lawmaker, Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna Central), advised the federal government on how defectors from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) should be treated.
The senator took to his Facebook page in the early hours of Wednesday to stress the need for both the ruling party and the opposition party to maintain a harmonious relationship.
“In view of the current reality, it’s possible to have a harmonious working relationship between the parliament led by the opposition, and the presidency led by the ruling party, in the remaining lifespan of this political dispensation, if the following rules are kept by both sides,” Mr Sani said.
He warned the government not to persecute the defectors and told the defectors not to hold the government hostage.
The defections also had some repercussions.
While Mr Saraki departed the APC, his sister, Gbemisola, affirmed her support for President Buhari.
Few hours after Mr Saraki’s announcement, Gbemisola declared her “unwavering support” for the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari and the success of the APC.
Mr Saraki’s protegee and former APC spokesperson, Bolaji Abdullahi, also resigned his position and defected from the party.
Mr Abdullahi made this known in a statement he signed on Wednesday.
“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,” he said.
THE KWARA DEFECTIONS
In permutations that show the influence Mr Saraki has over Kwara politics, the Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly, Ali Ahmad, also defected to the PDP.
Mr Ahmad defected alongside 22 other members of the 24-member Kwara State assembly on Wednesday.
The only state lawmaker remaining in the APC is Saheed Popoola, representing Ojomu-Balogun Constituency in Offa Local Government Area.
It was not all victory for Mr Saraki in Kwara though. As he moved into the PDP, the existing leaders of the party led by the state chairman, Iyiola Oyedepo, on Wednesday announced their defection to the APC.
Rex Olawoye, the erstwhile publicity secretary of the Kwara PDP, who made the announcement, said “I hereby officially announce the exit of our members from PDP to APC.”
Mr Olawoye, who described Mr Saraki as an “anathema,” said PDP members in the state could not work with him.
In the same vein, the only National Officer of PDP from Kwara State, Ahmed Aluko, left the PDP and joined the APC.
Mr Aluko, who was the PDP deputy governorship candidate in Kwara in the 2015 elections, resigned his membership of the party during its NEC meeting Thursday.
Mr Aluko said he was irked by the decision of PDP national leadership to hand over the structure of the party in the state to Mr Saraki.
Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State also within the week defected from the APC to the PDP.
Mr Tambuwal, who is believed to be nursing a presidential ambition, called on Nigerians to vote out President Buhari in next year’s election.
He said Mr Buhari has been “ineffective” as president.
Mr Tambuwal did not leave alone as 18 members of the 30 member state assembly followed him out of the APC into the PDP.
However, 12 members of the State House of Assembly declared their loyalty to the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari.
The lawmakers stated this in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday afternoon.
“We reiterate our commitment and loyalty to the APC led government under President Muhammadu Buhari,” they said in the statement.
Also in a swift reaction, Mr Tambuwal’s predecessor and former political benefactor, Aliyu Wamakko, described Mr Tambuwal’s decision to leave the APC for PDP, as his “worst decision.”
Mr Wamakko made the statement during an interview aired on BBC Hausa Service Thursday.
Mr Wamakko said Sokoto State remained with President Muhammadu Buhari. He said Mr Tambuwal’s defection will be of no consequence.
He told his supporters that Mr Tambuwal and others who left the APC for PDP “will surely regret their actions”.
Following Bolaji Abdullahi’s resignation, the APC appointed its Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, as its new spokesperson.
Mr Nabena in his first official reaction to the defection of Governors Ahmed and Tambuwal said the defectors had the right and freedom to pursue their political ambitions wherever they desired.
In a statement, Mr Nabena said the APC saluted the resolution of the defectors to openly declare where they belonged.
Also, the PDP accused the APC and the federal government of shopping for a fraudulent interim court order to declare vacant, the seat of the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, following his defection.
The PDP also said it has “credible information” that some “cabals” in the presidency and APC had perfected a plan to institute a lawsuit to challenge the validity of Mr Saraki’s seat with the sole aim of securing a “fraudulent injunction” to force him out of office pending the determination of the substantive suit.
Also, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State said he is confident President Muhammadu Buhari would win the 2019 presidential election for a second term in office.
In Benue, eight of the 30 lawmakers of the Benue State House of Assembly resolved to remove Governor Samuel Ortom.
The eight lawmakers also took control of the premises of the state parliament with the support of the police, Tahav Agerzua, a spokesperson for Mr Ortom said.
Mr Agerzua said George Akume, a former governor and APC senator from the state, brought police officers from Abuja to use eight lawmakers to remove a governor in a House of 30 lawmakers.
The planned removal of the Benue governors by minority lawmakers was condemned by most Nigerians including the presidency.
THE KANO REMOVAL
In Kano, North-west Nigeria, the House of Assembly on Monday removed its Speaker, Abdullahi Ata.
The assembly also re-elected Kabiru Rurum, the immediate-past speaker of the house who was also then removed over allegations of corruption.
The motion for Mr. Ata’s removal was moved by Labaran Madari, representing Warawa Constituency.
The speaker was removed alongside two other principal officers of the assembly.
Shortly after, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State described the change in leadership in the State House of Assembly as another process for strengthening internal democracy.
“The leadership change shows how Kano as a state is serious about internal democracy,” he said.
Also on Monday was the announcement by a former governor of Kaduna State, Ramalan Yero, that he has submitted his letter of intent to vie for the state governorship position in 2019.
Mr Yero, while submitting the letter at the state’s PDP secretariat, said his decision was informed by “genuine concern of the people of the state.”
According to Mr Yero, he received several calls from people who wanted him to vie for the number one seat in the state.
Also on Monday, Mr Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, issued a joint statement where they condemned the plot to remove the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom.
On Wednesday, the National Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus, told defectors who joined his party to be ready for war.
He described the defectors as courageous men and women, whom he said refused to keep quiet in the face of “flagrant disobedience of rules in the country.”
On Thursday, President Muhammadu Buhari likened defectors from the APC, to ‘bad eggs’ saying “God will continue to fish out the bad eggs among us.”
Mr Buhari, speaking in Bauchi, also told supporters not to be perturbed by the recent defections in the party.
The President was in Bauchi for an APC rally.
Mr. Buhari had a day earlier also announced that he will be taking a 10-day leave. His spokesperson, Femi Adesina, who made the announcement said Mr Buhari will spend the 10 days in the UK beginning from Friday, August 3.
The PDP, however, alleged that Mr Buhari’s two-week vacation in London was designed as an alibi to exonerate him from “planned political illegalities, forceful invasion and mayhem” about to be visited on the polity and particularly the National Assembly.
The party said in a statement Thursday that it was aware of plots already perfected in a meeting, on Wednesday night, between the presidency and some “compromised” APC senators, to forcefully reconvene the Senate with protection from security agencies, with a view to remove Mr Saraki and Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu.
The Nigerian presidency fired back immediately saying the claim was ridiculous and a hollow narrative to garner cheap sympathy.
Mr Buhari’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, said the president had handed power to his deputy without compulsion.
He said that decision “is itself exemplary and innovative, something that the PDP failed to produce in their sixteen years of monumental mismanagement and sadistic plunder.”
In Ekiti, the PDP governorship candidate, Kolapo Olusola, filed a petition at the governorship election tribunal against the results declared by the electoral commission, INEC.
While filing the petition on Friday in Ado Ekiti, the deputy governor said he polled the highest number of lawful votes in the election.
The results as declared by INEC showed that governor-elect, Kayode Fayemi, scored 197,459 to defeat Mr Olusola, who polled a total of 178,121 votes.
Mr Fayemi had since received his certificate of return and would be sworn as governor on October 16, 2018.
Also, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said on Friday that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar should not count on him for support in his latest bid to actualise his life-long ambition of being elected the president of Nigeria.
“How can I be on the same side with Atiku?” Mr Obasanjo asked. “To do what?”
“If I support Atiku for anything, God will not forgive me. If I do not know, yes. But once I know, Atiku can never enjoy my support,” he said.
On Saturday, a presidential aide announced that the Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, will defect from the PDP to the APC.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s Special Assistant on Prosecution, Okoi Obono-Obla, posted a message on Facebook, Saturday night, saying that Mr Akpabio will be received into APC by the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and other top leaders of the party at a rally in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State.
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