The Niger State governor, Babangida Aliyu, has stated that he never planned to dump the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the All Progressive Congress, APC.
He said at the time he led the G-7 group, the objective was to resolve the leadership problem in the PDP.
The G-7 governors included Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers, Aliyu Wammako of Sokoto, Abdullahi Ahmed of Kwara, Murtala Nyako of Adamawa, Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano, Sule Lamido of Jigawa and Mr. Aliyu. They staged a walk-out of the August 2013 Special National Convention of the PDP, alongside other party stalwarts, including former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former party secretary, Sam Jaja, and former Kwara Governor, Bukola Saraki.
The group then formed the “new PDP.” But five of the governors and others eventually defected to the APC while Messrs. Lamido and Aliyu chose to remain with the PDP.
Mr. Kwankwaso had in a chat with journalists on Sunday said Messrs. Lamido and Aliyu were part of the decision to ditch the PDP but failed to do so at the eleventh hour for reasons best known to them. He particularly noted that Mr. Lamido was their leader when the decision was made.
“I don’t want to talk too much on the Jigawa State governor. Everybody knows that he was part of us; in fact he was the leader of the group,” Mr. Kwankwaso said. “He took us to the level that we even felt that there is no going back, but to our surprise, he remained in the PDP at the end. We already had no more business with PDP.”
The Jigawa Governor responding on Tuesday agreed with Mr. Kwankwaso that he betrayed the group.
“Yes, I betrayed them. I am a betrayer. Confirmed.”
When asked why he betrayed the group, Mr. Lamido simply responded, “I align myself with what he (Kwankwaso) said.”
But in his reaction contained in a press release signed by his spokesperson, Israel Ebije, Mr. Aliyu said the aim of the G-7 was not to jettison the PDP.
He insisted that it was aimed at bringing sanity to the PDP adding that the objective of their action was proactive and the result was positive.
He said he would always respect members of the G-7 for their position against impunity in the party at that trying period. He, however, maintained that decision to leave for the APC was not on the agenda of the group but more of individual decision of members.
“Let me state in categorical terms that I never discussed with the G-7 governors over issue of decamping to the APC. I led the group primarily to stabilize the PDP. At that time, the PDP was having challenges hinging on impunity which had to be addressed,” the Niger governor said in the Tuesday statement.
“Let me therefore intimate that based on principle, I never planned to abandon the PDP for another party. It is also important to note that the G-7 achieved its objective of repositioning the PDP which was at the time passing through leadership challenge, therefore I had no reason to leave, besides our effort brought the ruling party back on its feet,” Mr. Aliyu said.
He also said he would remain committed to the PDP and would work towards ensuring that the party wins in all elective positions in Niger state. He said the PDP remains the party to beat in the next general election.