•PDP has learnt more from defeat than APC from victory – Senate President
By Ali Alkali, Musa Adamu, Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
In what appears to be a smart pre-emptive move, the duo of Senate President Bukola Saraki and Governor Ahmed Abdulafatah of Kwara State yesterday announced their long expected switch to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
After weeks of speculation, Saraki was reported as saying Tuesday:
“I wish to inform Nigerians that, after extensive consultations, I have decided to take my leave of the All Progressives Congress.”
For Kwara State governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, notice of his defection was contained in a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Communications, Dr. Muyideen Akorede, saying:
“Following due consultations with the people, and in response to calls by major stakeholder groups in the state, Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed today defected to the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), having realized that the All Progressive Congress (APC) can no longer serve as a platform for achieving the aspirations and expectations of his people.”
Both Saraki and Gov Ahmed came to power on the platform of the APC, but have dumped the party in apparent protest following protracted disagreements they both have with the APC apparatchiks.
Their defection might not be unconnected to rumours of moves allegedly by the APC to expel them over anti party activities. Their move is suspected to be a deft move to escape the expulsion axe ostensibly being dangled by the ruling party.
According to Saraki, “When we left the PDP to join the then nascent coalition of All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2014, we left in a quest for justice, equity and inclusion; the fundamental principles on which the PDP was originally built but which it had deviated from. We were attracted to the APC by its promise of change. We fought hard along with others and defeated the PDP.
“In retrospect, it is now evident that the PDP has learnt more from its defeat than the APC has learnt from its victory. The PDP that we return to is now a party that has learnt its lessons the hard way and have realized that no member of the party should be taken for granted; a party that has realized that inclusion, justice and equity are basic precondition for peace; a party that has realized that never again can the people of Nigeria be taken for granted.
“I am excited by the new efforts, which seeks to build the reborn PDP on the core principles of promoting democratic values; internal democracy; accountability; inclusion and national competitiveness; genuine commitment to restructuring and devolution of powers; and an abiding belief in zoning of political and elective offices as an inevitable strategy for managing our rich diversity as a people of one great indivisible nation called Nigeria.”
Equally, the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Malam Bolaji Abdullahi is reported to have resigned his position with immediate effect to join Saraki in PDP.
Abdullahi, a close political associate of the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, is said to have dropped his letter of resignation few minutes after Saraki announced his leaving the APC.
However, Abdulllahi told PREMIUM TIMES last night that he is still a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“Reports that Mr Abdullahi, a former minister of youth and sports development, has abandoned the ruling party and toed the line of his mentor, Senate President Bukola Saraki, dominated social media Tuesday night.
“But I have not tendered my resignation,” Mr Abdullahi told PREMIUM TIMES by telephone Tuesday night. “And I did not tell anyone I have done so.
“Mr Abdullahi’s absence during the regular Monday meeting of the APC National Working Committee (NWC) fueled the speculations that he may have concluded arrangements to leave the party.
“Defending his absence at the NWC meeting, the APC spokesman told journalists at the party secretariat that he actually notified the party’s national leadership of his absence from the meeting,” PREMIUM TIMES said.
In a press release he personally signed yesterday, Saraki said: “For me, I leave all that behind me. Today, I start as I return to the party where I began my political journey, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).”
His resignation did not come to many as a surprise because most of his political allies both in the Senate and his home state of Kwara had already left the party.
Peoples Daily reports that 13 Senators, mostly Saraki’s allies, have resigned on the floor of the Senate last week, fuelling rumour that it was just a matter of time before Saraki himself would say good bye to the party he joined in 2014, the APC.
Saraki was one of the chieftains of the (PDP) who formed what they called the nPDP, a vehicle they used to stage a mass defection into the then newly formed APC.
nPDP was resurrected under the leadership of Saraki’s right man, Kawu Baraje, alleging marginalization and witch hunt of its members in the APC.
The nPDP, in conjunction with some equally disgruntled APC members later formed what they called rAPC, headed by an erstwhile ally of President Muhammadu Buhari, Buba Galadima.
Saraki said although the new leadership of the APC, some Governors and the Vice President made spirited efforts to save the day, it was clear “fifth columnists” did not believe in dialogue.
He praised the PDP, he was returning to, as party which had learnt its lesson “the hard way” and was now ready to unite the country and not undermine any of its members any more.
“This is not a decision that I have made lightly. If anything at all, I have tarried for so long and did all that was humanly possible, even in the face of great provocation, ridicule and flagrant persecution, to give opportunity for peace, reconciliation and harmonious existence.
“Perhaps, more significantly, I am mindful of the fact that I carry on my shoulder a great responsibility for thousands of my supporters, political associates and friends, who have trusted in my leadership and have attached their political fortunes to mine. However, it is after an extensive consultation with all the important stakeholders that we have come to this difficult but inevitable decision to pitch our political tent elsewhere; where we could enjoy greater sense of belonging and where the interests of the greatest number of our Nigerians would be best served.
“While I take full responsibility for this decision, I will like to emphasize that it is a decision that has been inescapably imposed on me by certain elements and forces within the APC who have ensured that the minimum conditions for peace, cooperation, inclusion and a general sense of belonging did not exist.”
“They have done everything to ensure that the basic rules of party administration, which should promote harmonious relations among the various elements within the party were blatantly disregarded. All governance principles which were required for a healthy functioning of the party and the government were deliberately violated or undermined. And all entreaties for justice, equity and fairness as basic precondition for peace and unity, not only within the party, but also the country at large, were simply ignored, or employed as additional pretext for further exclusion.
Jubilating, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) welcomed the Senate President, the Kwara State Governor, Ahmed Abdulfatah and the Nigerian Ambassador to South Africa, Alhaji Ahmed Ibeto, to its fold.
The opposition PDP said that the coming of Senator Saraki, Governor Ahmed and Alhaji Ibeto could not have been at a better time than this when the nation requires the input of genuine patriots that will save her from an impending decline.
The party said, in a statement yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, “The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) welcomes the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, the Kwara State Governor, Megida Ahmed Abdulfatah and the Nigerian Ambassador to South Africa, Alhaji Ahmed Ibeto, to its fold.
“The coming of Senator Saraki, Governor Ahmed and Alhaji Ibeto could not have been at a better time than this when our nation requires the input of genuine patriots that will save her from an impending decline.
“The PDP notes the harassment and intimidation that the duo of Senator Saraki and Governor Ahmed had suffered from the lords in the disintegrating All Progressives Congress (APC) which they helped to build and nurtured to win elections.
“Senator Saraki, in particular, has conducted the affairs of the Senate in reflection of the wishes of the silent majority of Nigerians and had emerged a hero of democracy.
“The party has no doubts that Senator Saraki, Governor Ahmed and Alhaji Ibeto will contribute immensely to the new order that engender good governance in our nation.
“The PDP assures all returning members of all the rights and privileges accruable to every member of our party.”