President Muhammadu Buhari, on Monday, received a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, and a former governor of Ogun State, Gbenga Daniel, who visited him at the Presidential Villa, Abuja
The duo who recently defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) were accompanied by the APC caretaker chairperson, Mai Mala-Buni, who is also the governor of Yobe State.
Others on the entourage were Governors Mohammed Badaru of Jigawa and Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi States.
Mr Buhari is a member of the APC.
Mr Daniel was governor of Ogun State from 2003 to 2011 while Mr Bankole was the Speaker of the House of Representatives between 2007–2011, all on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
While Mr Daniel was campaign manager for the PDP presidential candidate and former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, in 2019, Mr Bankole contested that year’s governorship election on the ticket of the Action Democratic Party (ADP).
Speaking with journalists after the meeting, Mr Buni said they came to present the new party members to the president who expressed delight at the calibre of the defectors.
He said the president expressed his delight considering the pedigree of the new members.
“We came to present new members of our party, Daniel and Bankole,” Mr Buni said.
“Mr President is impressed and happy that leaders of such calibre are joining our party at this time we are registering new members because registering and validating our membership, and indeed this is the right time for them to join us. And that is exactly why Mr. President is very happy. He is pleased and is impressed.”
Mr Bankole said he joined the ruling party “to give support to the effort the president was making”.
He said national issues needed to be solved “and any reasonable human being should support at the moment”.
“This is the time to step up and support so that these decisions can be taken, executed.
“Because 10 years from now, 20 years from now, people ask who stood up when these things were happening? It is every citizen’s right and all we have done is exercise it today. But actions from now will speak for us,” he said.
On his part, Mr Daniel said there was a need to deemphasise the party affiliation in the affairs of the country.
He said the country was going through a lot “and that whoever was in power should be given the maximum support.”
“Why APC? There are too many options in the party. One thing is sure that we are going through health and economic challenges, we must do less political contests and give support,” Mr Daniel said.
“One thing that is for sure is that the entire world is going through challenges that are global challenges, economic challenges, health challenges and when you are in a situation like this, as I usually opined, we should do less of partisan contestation. All of us must come together to support whoever is in power.
“And what we have decided to do is to come and give our support to the president so that jointly, we can continuously navigate the country. That is what is relevant.”
Asked if he felt Nigeria was sliding into a one party state with the defections of notable opposition politicians, the former governor said the same scenario played out when the opposition was in power.
He said, “definitely, any political environment, whether it is multi party or two party, there will usually be a majority party and the minority party. So I don’t think that there is anything new that has happened.
“A few years ago, when PDP was at the helm of affairs at the centre, I think at the last count, out of the 36 states, PDP was in charge in more than 24 states at that time and the country did not become a one party state.
“So I think what is going on is quite healthy. The contestation is quite exciting. I think what is important is that parties should look inwards and organise themselves very well so that at any point in time, the people have an opportunity to make an informed choice. And that I think is what is going on.”
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