What started as a trickle has now turned into a gale. The crisis within Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is now full blown as the Senate President, three governors, National Publicity Secretary, nearly all members of the legislature in the north-central State of Kwara have joined 52 other lawmakers in the National Assembly who left the party for the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Resigning on Tuesday, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, twitted: “I wish to inform Nigerians that, after extensive consultations, I have decided to take my leave of the All Progressives Congress (APC).”
Saraki In a later statement he personally signed, said, “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 emphasise 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”.
While revealing the party he is moving to, the Senate President, said “Today, I start as I return to the party where I began my political journey, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“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”.
Saraki’s political son, Abdulfatah Ahmed, who is governor of Kwara State and the spokesman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, Agbo Terkula also joined him in dumping the APC.
The governor said in a statement by his media aide, Muyideen Akorede, “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 People’s Democratic Party (PDP), having realized that the All Progressive Congress (APC) can longer serve as a platform for achieving the aspirations and expectations of his people.”
The Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly and 23 other lawmakers were to follow in the immediate steps of Governor Abdulfatah. TheSpeaker, Dr. Ali Ahmad led 23 members of the Kwara State House of Assembly out of 24 to the PDP.
He expressed regrets for joining the APC in 2014. Ahmad, a former member of the House of Representatives, defected to APC in 2014 alongside 36 other members of the lower chamber of the National Assembly.
The member representing Ojomu/Balogun Constituency of Offa Local Government Area, Mr. Saheed Popoola, chose to stay back in APC.
The Speaker said: “All the honorable members — except one — have finally changed party to the PDP.
“This is permitted by the proviso to Section 109 (1) (g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Today, as I and other members of the Kwara State Assembly dump the APC for good, I heaved a sigh of relief.
“In 2014, I was terribly sad leaving PDP reluctantly with 36 other members of the House of Representatives.
“Today, I am the happiest leaving the APC for good. I wish I was never a member of the party.”
A major surprise among watchers of the polity was the resignation of Nigeria’s ambassador to South Africa, Ahmed Ibeto, who also defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Ibeto reportedly submitted his letter of resignation at the ministry of external affairs in Abuja.
Ibeto, who was deputy governor of Niger state for eight years, was said to have arrived Nigeria from Pretoria on Sunday, to commence preparations for the 2019 election.
He is reportedly planning to formalise his return to the PDP at Ibeto, his village, before joining the governorship race in Niger.
The National Publicity Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Bolaji Abdulahi was not left out of the gale of defections.
Abdulahi, a close associate of the Senate President Bukola Saraki made his intention known on Wednesday via a statement he released on his official twitter handle.
He said, “In view of recent political developments in the country and within the All Progressives Congress (APC), I have decided to resign my position as the National Publicity Secretary as well as my membership of the party with effect from today”.
In his statement on Wednesday, the former minister of Sports, lamented thus, “In the last few days, I have had to endure the flagrant usurpation of my role as the spokesman of the party in a manner that I consider unbefitting of a ruling party and inconsistent with my ethical standards.”
Perhaps, the biggest high profile defector because of his speculated ambition is Governor Aminu Tambuwal of the Northwest State of Sokoto. In his defection speech, Tambuwal spoke at length while berating his former party.
“Let me at this juncture state emphatically that I return to the PDP with a clear conscience today, because the party has learnt some bitter lessons and noted what mistakes it must avoid in the future. It is now a repositioned and forward looking political party to which I now pledge loyalty, in my resolve to contribute towards improving the lives of Nigerians and expanding opportunities for the youths”, Tambuwal said.
He added, “Now, almost four years into what ought to be a new order as desired and elected by Nigerians, the nation is unfortunately going through the most difficult and precarious times, since the Civil war; with ethno, religious and regional distrust at its highest ebb.
“This development had often been blamed on political opponents. Meanwhile, there are issues of brazen inequity and capacity and questionable distribution of appointments/projects. This is in addition to lack of statesmanship in responding to national issues, among other things that are for aggravating the anomaly.
“In line with the best traditions in any major political decision, especially by a serving elected Governor, I have painstakingly consulted far and wide, on whether the present political platform is a viable vehicle for achieving the aspiration of our people.
“It is because I am convinced that no nation can thrive while there is inequity and bad governance; because I am saddened by the fact that lethargy, incompetence and sustained denial of obvious leadership missteps have become the major raw materials with which the Nigerian State is being run today; because I am unwilling to be part of frightful conspiracy against the cohesion of the Nigerian State, Nigeria youths and peoples; because I am unable to feel at ease in the face of a progressively divided nation and, above all, because I am totally unable to reconcile myself to a national leadership that offers no redeeming moral beacons that I am here with you today; to announce withdrawal of my membership of the All Progressives Congress and return to the People’s Democratic Party.”
The gale of defections not withstanding, the ruling party continues to maintain that it would not lose sleep over the losses, insisting that its dominance of the National Assembly was intact.
Adams Oshiomhole who is the Chairman of APC on Wednesday accused the defecting Senate President of being dishonorable by choosing to walk away with the Senate Presidency portfolio, leaving speculations that there could be moves to impeach the Senate President.
Oshiomhole said, “But whatever is the reason, we can decamp from party but we can’t decamp from Nigeria.
“The only thing is that there are other consequential issues that every man or woman of honour who had taken such decisions would be expected to follow through.
“I mean, you should not collect a crown that belongs to a family and wear it on behalf of the family if for your personal reasons which he has enumerated that he has gone to another family.
“It is just a matter of honour to leave the crown in the house that the crown belongs to.
“As it stands even now, APC is still the largest party in the Senate. We have 53 senators, that is much more than PDP or APGA has.”
ECOWAS folds, lifts economic, travel sanctions on junta-led Niger, others
Economic sanctions on Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso were lifted with immediate effect by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Saturday.
This came after the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government held an unprecedented meeting at the State House in Abuja, where they deliberated for hours on the political, peace, and security situation in the region.
Mali and its bordering junta-run nations, Niger and Burkina Faso, abruptly announced last month that they were abandoning ECOWAS, the largest political and economic union in West Africa, reversing decades of regional integration.
The ECOWAS Commission President, Dr. Omar Touray, announced the Authority’s resolutions and stated that it has halted the closing of the air and land border with Niger, creating a no-fly zone for any commercial aircraft.
Additionally, it has halted the unfreezing of all of Niger’s assets at EBID and the freezing of any financial transactions involving the central bank of the ECOWAS states and Niger.
Additionally, it removed the restriction on military junta members’ and their families’ travel. “Based on humanitarian considerations due to lent and the approaching month of Ramadan,” according to Touray, the decision was made.
Sanctions against Mali citizens being elected to ECOWAS positions were also lifted by the authority. Along with the lifting of sanctions against Guinea, all four nations were extended an invitation to future ECOWAS technical consultative meetings.
Additionally, ECOWAS requested that the member states that were withdrawing reevaluate their choice in light of the advantages their citizens had received.
Senegalese opposition condemns President Sall’s ‘slow’ election date announcement
The opposition presidential contenders in Senegal have claimed that the government is taking too long to announce a new date for the poll, following a court ruling that declared a 10-month postponement to be illegal.
This occurs just a few days after President Macky Sall pledged to comply with the Constitutional Council’s position that the election be held as soon as feasible following the parliament’s resolution to reschedule the election—which was initially set for February 25—was overruled by the court.
The situation in one of the more stable democracies in coup-hit West Africa led to violent public protests and threats of authoritarian overreach, and Sall came under intense pressure both domestically and internationally to accept the council’s decision.
However, no new date has been announced, which has angered opposition candidates who want the election to happen before Sall’s term expires on April 2.
In a joint statement released late on Tuesday, sixteen out of the nineteen presidential candidates bemoaned the “inexplicable slowness” with which the council’s decision was implemented.
It was their contention that Sall’s tardy return to electoral duty demonstrated his reluctance to initiate a process that would result in a transfer of power. A request for response from the presidency was not answered.
During a news conference on Tuesday, Justice Minister Aïssata Tall Sall said that there was room for discussion over the expiration of Sall’s mandate on April 2.
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