The purported impending defection of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has attracted conflicting statement from the Kwara state chapter of the party and the national executives of the All Progressives Congress (APC) which has cast uncertainty into the whole scenario. HEAD POLITICS, MUMINI ABDULKAREEM further examines the issue and its implication for next year’s general elections.
Last week, the political atmosphere in the state and at the national level witnessed a Tsunami of sort when some aggrieved members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) officially split the party to form the R-APC.
The faction, which comprised of other aggrieved members of the party in conjunction with the nPDP wing of the APC entered alliance with over 35 political parties to form the CUPP coalition with the major aim of dislodging President Muhammadu Buhari in the presidential election scheduled for February, 2019.
Shortly after the coalition announced the formation, political analysts have run to town with their pen looking at its implications for the coming elections and whether the development is capable of repeating another history within a spate of four years in the country’s political sphere.
The analyses that dominated most of the discourse however faulted president Buhari for not being political enough with his aloofness to address genuine complaints of party members across the country and allowing the issue to escalate to a breaking point.
Even the emergence of former Governor of Edo state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole at the last National Convention in Abuja as chairman of the party expected in many quarters to bring much hope was seen by some of the aggrieved members as a little too late and coming at a time when irreparable damages might have been done.
While Oshiomhole immediately swung into action meeting with the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, the leadership of the senate and the House of Representatives, the action of the R-APC temporarily threw spanner into the spirited fence mending efforts of the comrade former governor.
“My appeal to all those who are aggrieved is to be patient. Under my leadership, the APC will make honest mistakes and the courage to make up once attention was drawn to such.
“Some people say how can people eat their words, for me, I will eat my words if it is nutritious enough and if that is what I have to do to have peace in the family. I would do everything possible to sustain confidence and trust because everybody is important in the party”, he added.
But while the reconciliation efforts was ongoing, to make matters worse, Senator Sheu Sani compounded the headache of the new chairman with his statement that although he (Oshiomhole) came into the picture determined to mend fences, his entry and efforts might be coming too late. He added that “we are moving”.
Following the body language of many key players and very influential members of the party on the issue, calculations and permutation on how the incumbent might lose the ticket next year, especially coupled with the angst of the citizens over biting economic realities and the killings going on simultaneously across the country rented the traditional and social media spaces.
However, there seem to be a sudden twist to the whole matter with renewed prospects that there is a possibility that the aggrieved members might reconsider their earlier stand to dump the party over complaints of marginalisation and persecution of members by some forces in the government for selfish and personal motives.
To this end, the new chairman of the party had since continued his peace meetings with top party members like Governor of Sokoto state, Aminu Tambuwal and former governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso some of whom are reportedly finalising their defection plans by meeting senior members of the PDP.
Subsequently, Senator Shehu Sani (Kaduna-Central), and other members of the faction in the state denied report of their purported defection, adding that they are still in the ruling party but may move soon.
Sani told newsmen that his group (same with Hunkuyi’s) was in reconciliatory talks with the APC as well as the PDP and other parties lobbying them.
He said, “We are talking with both parties and the others who want us to defect to their parties. Discussions and consultations are ongoing between us and the APC, and between us and the parties who want us to defect.
Further more on his social media platform, Sani wrote, “Clarification: I’ve yet to leave the Broom City FC for the Umbrella United or any other club in the Premier League. Discussions and consultations are ongoing. If such will happen, it will be backed by a signed formal letter to the ‘club management’; and a formal announcement on the side of the pitch by myself.”
Back home in Kwara state, the issue even appeared more confusing with discordant tunes from the three senatorial districts up to the state and national levels of the party.
For those that had some doubt about the position of the Senate President regarding the R-APC decision, the presence of the former chairman of the nPDP, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje at the Buba Galadinma-led Press conference to form a coalition with the CUPP was interpreted as a tacit approval of Saraki to the cause of the factional members.
However, shortly after the development, the national leadership of the party through its national Publicity Secretary and a key Saraki ally, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, distanced the party from the “so called” R-APC and maintained that APC has no faction.
According to Abdullahi, “APC respect the right of everyone to join any association or group. However, we wish to reiterate that the so-called R-APC is not a faction of our Party. Our Party, the APC remains united under the leadership of our President, Muhammadu Buhari.
“We once again reiterate the commitment of our party to address real grievances of our genuine members. We call on them to take advantage of this opportunity while the windows for reconciliation are still open. We are confident that no level of gang-up can make our government under President Buhari to waiver in its promises to Nigerians to rid our country of corruption and improve the quality of lives for our people”, the statement added.
While this was playing out at the national level, the state was equally not insulated from the seeming confusion but came with its own fair share of the drama
It was the three senatorial chairmen that first “troubled” the polity with a call that the Senate President should lead them out of the APC.
In a jointly addressed press conference held in Adangba, Ilorin, Alhaji Isiaka Oniwa (North), Alhaji Jimoh Adesina (Central) and Alhaji Jimoh Balogun (South), said their position represented the wish and aspiration of their followers adding that the decision was taken after wide consultations from their people over the matter.
According to Alhaji Balogun who read the address and later fielded questions from newsmen, even if the Senate President asked them to stay, they might not obliged him if the APC failed to redeem the promises made to the people of the state.
He however clarified that they are still members of the APC for now and the decision on which party to go will be taken in due cause.
“The APC has failed the entire people of not only Kwara but beyond as promises of job creation, better living conditions and a host of other promises have not manifested in the lives of the common Nigerians.
“We plead with Saraki who took us to APC in 2004 now that another election is coming and the ruling party has refused to redeem its campaign promises, to take us to a formidable party that would address the plight of the people of Kwara State”, the party chieftain noted.
But the spokesman of the state chapter of the party disowned the statement of the senatorial chairmen and even the action of Baraje by attending the R-APC press conference describing their actions as personal opinions. He added that Saraki and the entire Kwara Executive are still in APC.
Buhari said, “As at this moment, Saraki is still very much a member of the APC, he has not defected to the CUPP or any other party. And if he decides to leave APC today, not all of us will go with him because people have individual differences. In politics, there is only permanent interest and not permanent enemy.
“What the APC senatorial chairmen did calling on Saraki to lead them out of the APC and Baraje’s attendance of the R-APC was their own opinion and it is not binding on the Senate President”, he added.
As the APC under the reformed leadership of Oshiomhole and the new PDP or CUPP for political convenience championed by Prince Uche Secondus continued their rounds of meetings to woo the aggrieved members, politicians are waiting with bated breadth on whose side the pendulum of the once rejected stones who have now turned the beautiful brides in the polity will finally pitch their tent. But until then, the waiting game continues.