The Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang, has said lawmakers who defected from the All Progressives Party (APC) on Tuesday were angry at some governors and party leaders and not Mr Buhari.
He said the lawmakers said their grievances and consequent actions “are not directed against President Buhari nor his re-election bid, but domestic actors in their constituency political fields such as the Governors, State party leaders or frustration over zoning or indeed calculations for a return ticket or platform for 2019 elections”.
Fiveteen senators left the APC in a mass defection, while thirty-six members of the House of Representatives also dumped the party on the same day. Majority of them joined the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Shortly after plenary on Tuesday, the Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, had boasted that the APC still had majority in both chambers of the National Assembly.
The APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomole, also said he was not bothered by the mass defection but in a volte face urged the defectors to return to the party for ”their good and the good of the party”.
Barely 24 hours after the mass defection, about 39 APC lawmkers met with President Buhari “to assure him of their loyalty and also informed him that the APC still has clear majority in both chambers of the National Assembly,” Mr Lawan told journalists after the meeting.
Mr Lawan had said the remaining senators were working with the leadership of APC to ensure that those who defected return.
Addressing journalists at the National Assembly, Mr Enang said ”other aggrieved members of the APC have not defected”.
He said in all the grievances expressed to him, none was attributed or directed at President Buhari.
“In fact, in my interaction pre and post expression of intent to defect, all the dramatis personae the distinguished Senators and hon members expressed their solidarity and support for Mr President and expressed categorically that their grievances and consequent actions are not directed against President Buhari nor his re-election bid, but domestic actors in their constituency political fields such as the Governors, State party leaders or frustration over zoning or indeed calculations for a return ticket or platform for 2019 elections.
“Indeed, a great number of them have indicated that even if they pursue their bid on a different political platform, they will still campaign for President Buhari for 2019 on the APC platform,” he said.
While stating that the APC is today one united strong party, he explained that the ”detection by lawmakers are group notice to switch camps”. He assured the remaining members of the party of ”utmost respect from the executive”.
“It is inchoate and leaves windows, doors and rooms for further consultation for resolution because our party minds and cares for all members in or out of office. And like the Holy Bible enjoins, if you lose one sheep out of 100, preserve 99 and go and search for the one lost.
“The Executive will keep treating the legislators with respect due their person and offices and keep working with them as legislators for the Federal Republic of Nigeria who make laws for the Executive to execute irrespective of their individual political decisions, while leaving all options open for conciliation,” he added.
He wished lawmakers a restful vacation. He however announced that the Executive will be consulting with the Legislature over matters pending such as ”2018 virement proposals, approval of borrowings to fund the 2018 Appropriation, approval of the pending 2018 budget of 64 Government owned Corporations laid by Mr Buhari along with the 2018 budget, including request for approval of appointments which pendency has affected the fulfillment of the purposes meant”.