•As party loses 37 Reps, 14 Senators, PDP loses 1
•It won’t hurt 2019 prospects •Defectors have no electoral value
By Ali Alkali, Ikechukwu Okaforadi, Musa Adamu, Lawrence Olaoye, Christiana Ekpa and Lateef Ibrahim
The ruling party All Progressives Congress (APC) has said that it still retains majority at the National Assembly and 25 states across the nation despite mass defection of Senators and House of Representatives members, yesterday. APC said it still has fifty two senators as against PDP which has fifty senators.
This is as National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole described the defectors from APC to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as lacking electoral value, while President Muhammadu Buhari noted that the defection won’t hurt the APC’s 2019 electoral prospects.
Fourteen Senators belonging to the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday announced their exit from the party to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Action Democratic Congress (ADC).
Breakdown of the defection and current status of hundred and nine Senate seats released by the Senate leader, Ahmed Lawan (APC, Yobe North), indicated that, aside the fifty two senators for APC, and fifty senators for PDP, All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) has two senators, while the Action Democratic Congress (ADC) has three senators; and there are two vacant seats due to the death of two senators, including: late Bukar Mustafa (APC, Katsina) and Aliyu Wakil (APC, Bauchi), both died this year.
In a letter read by the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, the affected Senators said their decision followed their consultation with their respective constituencies.
While 14 of the number who defected via a common letter to the leadership of the Senate announced their move to the opposition PDP, Senator Abdulaziz Nyako (Adamawa) formalized his defection on the floor of the Senate after he had earlier defected in his home state to the ADC.
The letter gave the names of the defecting Senators as: Sen. Lanre Tejouso (Ogun), Sen. Shaaba Lafiagi (Kwara), Sen. Barnabas Gemade (Benue), Sen. Dino Melaye (Kogi), Sen. Rafiu Ibrahim (Kwara), Sen. Shitu Ubale (Jigawa), Sen. Isa Misau (Bauchi), Sen. Suleiman Hunkuyi (Kaduna), Sen. Monsurat Sunmonu (Oyo), Sen. Ibrahim Danbaba (Sokoto), Sen. Bayero Nafada (Gombe), Sen. Suleiman Nazifi (Bauchi), Sen. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Kano), Sen. Soji Akanbi (Oyo ), Sen. Abdulaziz Nyako (Adamawa).
Shortly after the letter of defection was read on the already tensed floor of the Senate, the Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, made a last minute efforts to dissuade the aggrieved senators from defecting, but that came rather two late to make any difference.
He said: “The APC, our party certainly has its own internal challenges but Mr. President, as a political party we all know how so much effort by so many stakeholders to address the issues that bedeviled this party.
“The disagreements do not translate into factionalisation. I, therefore, feel that our senators of the APC stock do not have to move to any other party now because the issues are under serious discussions by the major stakeholders of this party.
“I will urge that the announcement be quarantined and contained and address the issues. Very seriously, this matter should be stepped down until we exhaust all the opportunities.”
Four other APC lawmakers, namely: Taiwo Akintola, Olufemi Samson, Adepoju Sunday and Olasupo also defected to ADC.
According to them, the decision to defect was in line with section 68(g) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
They disclosed that the crisis rocking the ruling party at all levels prompted their decision to migrate to another political party.
•Oshiomhole: Defectors have no electoral value
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, described the lawmakers in the National Assembly who decamped from the ruling party to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as lacking electoral value.
The APC leader insisted that he would not lose sleep over the development in the polity, because those who dumped the party for the opposition were not meant to be in the APC ab initio; because they do not subscribe to progressive values and ideals.
He said, “Check the electoral results, you will find that a lot claimed to have decamped, on a good day, the vote they got that made them members of the Senate, our president got much more votes in their constituencies. So, we are not fooled at all.
“The thing going on is that you have a lot of so called big masquerades with very little and no electoral value. I have tried my best, which I think I needed to do, to give comfort to those who claimed to be aggrieved. But those who have other hidden agenda that are not negotiable, I am not going to be able to appease anyone who expects x-level of return and the system is not delivering it, in terms of personal return. I can’t solve that. But those who have issues under the table, they are beyond me.
“But let me assure you, I am so happy that over time that water will find its level. Because, if you remember what I said the day I formally declared my interest to contest, I had said, to be a progressive party means we must be clear that it cannot be a party for everyone. We have to be sure that you subscribed to the values and ideals of a progressive party. If indeed you belong to the extreme right, and you mistakenly find yourself in a progressive party, obviously that is not where you belong. As soon as you realize that you can’t adjust to the requirement of progressive, which is people driven, people based, people oriented and you choose to return to the right wing where you know what the name of the game was: share the money, it is your choice.
“But, I need to remind you, I am not a poor student of struggle, I am not a professor of struggle; I am a product of struggle; I know what I am talking about. Very soon Nigerians will go to the polls and we will see who will deliver what in his constituency.”
Buhari: Defection won’t hurt our prospects
On his part, President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the defection of some lawmakers in the National Assembly to the opposition will not in any way injure the aspirations of the ruling APC in the 2019 general elections.
In a statement made available to newsmen by his Senior Special Assistant on media and publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, President Buhari noted that none of the defecting federal lawmakers of the All Progressives Congress (APC) had any specific grievances against him or the government he leads – neither did he harbors anything against any of them.
“As the saying goes, all politics is local. We understand that some of the distinguished and honourable lawmakers have issues with their home states, especially on zoning which bars some of them from seeking another term in their constituencies,” he said.
He expressed confidence that no harm or injury will be done to the party and its aspirations by the movements.
Noting that the APC had done its utmost to stop the defections, the President commended the leadership of the party for relentlessly working for its unity and ensuring success in the upcoming elections.
Buhari assured members of the APC of his total support and urged party faithful not to despair but to see the defections as a seasonal occurrence that happens on election eve.
The President expressed his total commitment to the values of democracy, freedom of choice, as well as total willingness to work with all members of the National Assembly irrespective of their political party, for the benefit of the nation.
President Buhari wished all the decamped members the best in their future undertakings.
APC calls for calm, says party in majority
The headquarters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on its part, has called on their supporters to remain calm, saying the party is working hard for the next general elections.
A statement issued yesterday by the National publicity Secretary, Bolaji Abdullahi said the party has noted with concern the defection of some of the members from the national assembly.
“In the last couple of weeks our Party leaders have worked to stave off this situation as responsible Party leaders would do. It would appear, however, that the individuals involved have different considerations beyond the grievances that they were willing to discuss and which our leaders were willing to address.
“As a truly democratic party, we respect the right of every citizen to political association. Therefore, we urge our members to remain calm as we continue to work hard to position our party strongly for the next general elections. APC remains in firm control of 25 states of the 36 states of the federation and maintains a clear majority in the federal House of Representatives and state assemblies.
“We assure members and supporters that our great Party will continue to consolidate on our majority status in the lead up to the 2019 General Elections, even as our government continues to work hard to deliver on our promises to Nigerians.”
PDP loses one lawmaker to UPP
Amid celebration by PDP members, the opposition party has lost a member of the Representatives, Tony Nwulu, (Imo) yesterday who dumped the party for United Progressive Party, UPP.
Nwulu, who announced his defection while addressing journalists after plenary, said he left the PDP for his governorship ambition.
The lawmaker who sponsored the Not Too Young To Run bill recently signed into law by President Muhammad Buhari said he is joining the (UPP) after due scrutiny of all the political parties.
“I wish to inform you that effective from today, I have resigned my membership of the PDP,” Nwulu told journalists.
“I wish to convey to you all my membership of the United Progressive Party, UPP. I wish to, also, make people understand that my choice of UPP is after due scrutiny and review of political parties and their activities.”
He said the UPP remains the only party that will give young Nigerians “the opportunity they are asking for and I needed to lead in this direction.”
“I am running for the governorship position of Imo and UPP remains the beat platform across the country for young Nigerians aspiring for political office,” the lawmaker added.
PDP assures defectors of full support
Reacting to mass defection to its fold, the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has assured the federal lawmakers who defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC into their fold of its corporation.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan who addressed a press conference yesterday, said the lawmakers have abandoned a sinking ship.
“I congratulate members and leaders of the PDP on the defections and abandonment of the sinking ship of the APC in the Senate.
“Nigerians now look up to the PDP to provide the leadership in 2019 that will guarantee good governance for our people.
“We thank all the Senators and we assure them of cooperation within the PDP. I wish to tell you that more members of the APC in both chambers of the National Assembly, State Assemblies and even among governors are coming to join the PDP all in the interest of good governance for the people of our country. I thank you very much.”