Arguably, in this season of defections, the biggest masquerade has eventually left the All Progressives Congress, APC. That person is the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki. Announcing his defection on Tuesday, the former governor of Kwara state through his verified twitter handle declared: “I wish to inform Nigerians that, after extensive consultations, I have decided to take my leave from the All Progressives Congress (APC).” This is also as the governor of Kwara State defected to the PDP almost at the same time. The Nigerian political sphere appears to be quaking. While old alliances are crumbling, new interests and blocs are taking shape. In the face of these razzmatazz and realignment, the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, appears to be taking the biggest hit.
In the National Assembly, its rank and file is depleting. The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP gained at least 12 members since last week. If you add numbers from other smaller parties it will get up to 16 senators who defected just within a week. In the House of Representatives, the political interplay is not different. Although the APC still holds the ace, the eventual defection of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, to the PDP, will alter the political dynamics ahead of the 2019 general election.
At the state level, Abdulfatah Ahmed has joined Benue’s Samuel Orthom. In the midst of the ripples and drama, political pundits are worried about the approach of the ruling party in handling the fallout of the defections. Pundits, in their various verdicts, are perturbed that the ruling government has not handled the fallout well. In their arguments, they often recall a similar movement from the former ruling PDP to APC in 2014, ahead of the 2015 general election.
In late 2014, Saraki led other PDP senators to APC. In the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, who was the Speaker then, led the mass defection to APC. Giving more insight as to why he left the ruling party, the president of the senate recalled his and his supporters’ tribulations in the hands of government and the party. Hear him: “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.
“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.
“The experience of my people and associates in the past three years is that they have suffered alienation and have been treated as outsiders in their own party. Thus, many have become disaffected and disenchanted. At the same time, opportunities to seek redress and correct these anomalies were deliberately blocked as a government-within-a-government had formed an impregnable wall and left in the cold, everyone else who was not recognized as “one of us”. This is why my people, like all self-respecting people would do, decided to seek accommodation elsewhere.”
Saraki, said he decided to return to the PDP as it is evident that it 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 realised that no member of the party should be taken for granted; a party that has realised 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,” he revealed.
Going forward, we hope that political choices of persons will not be used against them by the powers that be in a manner that suggests victimization. Every Nigerian has the right to associate with whomever he or she chooses. The constitution is sacrosanct on that. As interesting as the political temperature has become as we head towards 2019 we call on players to play according to the rule and sustain peace.