Defectors who dumped the All Progressives Congress left because the party could not offer them what they wanted, All Progressives Congress (APC) national leader, Bola Tinubu, has said.
Mr Tinubu’s public reaction comes few weeks after the gale of defections from the ruling party began.
In the past month, at least 12 senators, 36 members of the House of Representatives and two state governors have dumped the ruling party.
Prominent among the defectors are Senate President Bukola Saraki and Sokoto State Governor. Aminu Tambuwal.
The defectors gave varying reasons for leaving the party, mainly due to problems in various state chapters of the party. Mr Saraki, however, blamed some unnamed leaders of the party for essentially forcing him out. Many believe Mr Tinubu was one of such leaders Mr Saraki was referring to.
Mr Tinubu was however of a contrary opinion.
In a statement he personally signed on Sunday, the APC leader said the defectors wanted automatic tickets and sharing of the national wealth which the governing APC could not guarantee.
According to him, the defectors “left the party to return to a motley agglomeration that would promise them what true democracy could not: automatic tickets, sharing of the national wealth and other offices and privileges.
“Nigeria is undergoing a historic transition. Sometimes awkwardly, tentatively, yet inexorably, we nurture political and governance reform. We steadily close the door on the old malpractices that have caused a rich nation to reside in the tenement of the global poor”.
Mr Tinubu attributed Mr Tambuwal’s defection to his presidential ambition which he would not be able to actualise in APC.
“Governor Tambuwal’s exit can be distilled to one cause. He covets the presidency. However, he had not the stomach to challenge President Buhari in a primary. Tambuwal felt further insulted that he would be compelled to face a direct primary just to retain the governorship nomination.
“But for the promise made by PDP headliners like Rivers State Governor Wike that he would have the PDP presidential nomination, Tambuwal would not have left. His exit had nothing to do with governance of the nation. It was about forging a personal ambition predicated on the defeat of progressive reform not the advancement of it.”
Mr Tambuwal last week said he was under pressure from some leaders in and outside Nigeria to run for the presidency.
Mr Tinubu advanced a similar argument for the defection of Mr Saraki.
“Much the same for Senate President Saraki. Returning to the PDP, he harbors dreams of the presidency but Tambuwal’s ambition will dwarf Saraki’s when the two collide. If Saraki had remained in the APC, he would be unable to reclaim his Senate seat let alone the Senate Presidency. He thus bolted because he lusts for the presidency but was promised by the PDP, at least, a return to his position in the Senate.
“For Saraki to talk about lack of governance is for him to deny who he is and the position he holds. This man stands as Nigeria’s Number 3 citizen. Clothed is he in ample power and influence. If he saw areas where government and the nation needed help, he could have easily applied his energies to these areas. He could have drafted legislation and easily got laws passed.
“However, no progressive enactment bears his name for he cared not for progress. He has been more focused on changing the rules of the Senate to favour himself and changing the order of elections so as to coincide with his selfish designs”.
He maintained that other defectors were given assurances on their ambitions, a step the APC refused to take. Mr Tinubu said the party is better off with the exit of the defectors.
“The rest of the defectors were given similar assurances by the PDP as to their offices. The APC refused to make such bargains as they are part of the ancient regime; these bargains are not of our democratic new way.
“There is nothing wrong with ambition. Without a degree of ambition, we would never strive to improve and develop ourselves. But ambition, restrained by nothing but itself, is a dangerous commodity. Unwedded to social conscience, it leads to ruthlessness; it is the father of the deception that leaders are meant to lord over instead of to serve the populace.
“In the final analysis, the reason for the defections is as clear to see as it is crooked in its motives. The APC seeks to reform governance and politics. However, many powerful people believe the established system assures their maximum benefit. Progressive reform would defeat them. They must fight reform and never be allied to it. Thus, they had to leave the APC.
“In a fundamental way, the APC may be better for their exit. It would be untrue to say their departures did not generate concern. As the air clears and we can better assess what is lost and gained by their exit, I can truthfully say the APC will be better off because they are gone.”
He added that the party will now focus more on delivering on electioneering campaigns.
Mr Tinubu was, however, silent on the recent debate on the morality of Mr Saraki occupying the Senate President’s seat.
Since his defection to the PDP last month, Mr Saraki has been under intense pressure from APC leaders and lawmakers insisting he vacate the seat since his party is now a minority in the senate.
Mr Saraki has vowed to keep his position.