The ripples generated by the defections in the National Assembly continued yesterday across the country. Onyedi Ojiabor (Abuja) and Adekunle Jimoh (Ilorin) report.
Loyalists and supporters of President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday staged peaceful rallies in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital drumming support for the re-election of the president in 2019.
The procession began at about 10am in front of the state stadium complex. The protesters marched through Unity Road, Ibrahim Taiwo Road and the Post Office area.
Motorcycle riders, artisans and students joined the protest.
They urged Senate President Bukola Saraki to publicly declare which political party he belongs and also called for his resignation as the Senate President.
Addressing reporters, the spokesperson of the group, George Towoju, said: ”The defection of some members of the National Assembly from the All Progressives Congress (APC) is one of the desperate attempts of Senator Saraki and his co-travelers to continue to embark on undeserving political negotiations and mortgaging the genuine interest of the masses for their personal and individual gains.
“Having found their political bargains as unwarranted, frivolous, condemnable, barbaric and uncharitable to the overall interest of the entire Nigerian population, it is the resolution of this great movement to pass votes of no confidence in the National Assembly under the leadership of Senate President Bukola Saraki for their ill-political characters capable of initiating political disunity and derailing the executive arms of government from implementing masses oriented policies/programmes.
”We hereby call on Dr. Bukola Saraki to make his political party membership known to Nigerians and resign his appointment as the Senate President with immediate effect in order to allow for better legislative process in the interest of the masses.”
He urged Saraki “to desist from politics of deceit and assassination of characters of constituted authorities in pursuant of cheap publicity, undeserving empathy from members of the public and international community as well as personal political gains”.
Towoju hailed President Buhari for 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..
He said “We also declare our total support to President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election bid and we call on men and women of goodwill and conscience to rally round Mr. President in order to salvage the nation from the current political turbulence and always stand by the oppressed so that we can together build a virile and prosperous Nigeria.”
Minister urges calm in Kwara APC
Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed yesterday thanked APC members and supporters in Kwara for their unflinching support to the party despite gale of defection in the National Assembly.
In a statement, the minister expressed gratitude to the party members and those from other parties for their solidarity for President Muhammadu Buhari.
“That commitment has been reflected in the overwhelming support and solidarity that we have received, not just from our party members but also from other parties and stakeholders across the state since the melodrama at the National Assembly on Tuesday.
“In particular, there has been an expression of overwhelming love and support for Buhari from across Kwara in the wake of the defections by federal legislators from Kwara.
“I call on all our members and supporters in Kwara to remain calm, because there is no cause for alarm.
“We are presently consulting with the national leadership of our great party, with a view to coming up with a programme of action that will take into consideration the recent developments,’’ he said.
Mohammed assured the members and supporters that whatever decision taken after the consultations would be in their overall best interest.
Some senators and House of Representatives members had on Tuesday announced their defection from APC to other political parties.
I cannot work with Saraki, says PDP chair
The Kwara State chairman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo, yesterday said he cannot work with the incoming defectors from APC led by Senate President Bukola Saraki.
Two senators, Shaaba Lafiagi (Kwara North) and Rafiu Ibrahim (Kwara South) as well as the six members of the House of Representatives from the state were among federal legislators who defected on Tuesday from the APC. Saraki and Governor AbdulFattah Ahmed are expected to announce their defection soon.
But Oyedepo, who spoke on the development on a radio programme in Ilorin, the state capital, said the national leadership of the PDP set up a committee to interface between his group and the defectors. The first meeting is slated for next week, he said.
The PDP chairman, who said he had just returned from a meeting with PDP leaders in Abuja, blamed the party’s national leadership for being allegedly insensitive to the political configuration in Kwara State and allowing themselves to be swayed by funding capacity of the defectors. To him, the option now before the leaders is to choose between his group and the Saraki’s.
He said: “We have not sat down with the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the state governor, Alhaji AbdulFattah Ahmed, even though I’m hearing several rumours that I have met with them and that they have offered me juicy positions. Those are all lies; the Senate President despite his humongous wealth, does not yet have what it takes to buy me. He cannot ever buy me because he cannot buy my integrity. If my bank account is not fat, my integrity account is very fat.
“So they have not met with us but our national body said they have set up a committee to meet with the two sides next week and when that meeting comes up, we are going to tell the national body that we cannot accept the formula they have put down which is 60:40, 60 percent for a state defecting with the governor and 40 percent for the existing PDP members. And if they said what of 50:50, or 40:60 or 30:70 or even 10:90, we shall not accept; we cannot accept any offer. Anything less than our not working together we cannot accept.
“So, we will tell our national body to choose between us and them and I know that they will not choose us because we don’t have money but we are not worried. We will only know that an end has come to our journey and our relationship (in the PDP).
“If we agree to work with them (Saraki), just imagine myself and (Governor AbdulFattah Ahmed) Maigida standing on the same rostrum, pledging to do things for the people. It will be a shame; many people will look at me and wonder what has happened. So, it is better not to be in politics again. Instead of a dog being the treasurer for the lion, it is better for both to part ways and go on their separate hunting game.
“The blame is not from the Saraki camp; the blame is from our national leaders (in the PDP). Leadership in Nigeria is the conspiracy of the elite to punish the downtrodden. When they gave us the party, we inherited nothing and so whatever you see in the PDP today is the product of our efforts. For this alone we should not be interested in defecting from our own house but it is better we do so now and look forward to better future for our dear state.”
Senators attack Adamu over defection list
The ripple of Tuesday’s defection of some senators from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may be far from over.
Two senators, Abdullahi Danbaba and Isa Hama Misau, yesterday attacked Senator Abdullahi Adamu over his claim that the defections were fraught with fraud.
Danbaba (Sokoto South) and Misau (Bauchi central) condemned the statement credited to Adamu in which he allegedly claimed that Senate President Bukola Saraki, “merely collated the list of Senators he feels are not happy with the APC and announced them as defectors.”
They said it was unbecoming of Adamu to mislead Nigerians about the defection of senators when he knows the truth.
The two Senators, in a statement, said: “Adamu thought all Nigerians were dumb by saying names of senators were just announced when in actual fact the concerned senators were individual political leaders in their different constituencies and were present on the floor when their names were read out from a letter signed by all of them.
“People like Senator Adamu have become agents of instability and division in the Senate. This same Senator, who was genuflecting before Saraki to get a Senate committee chairmanship at the beginning of the Eighth Senate, suddenly made a turn-around to become a lap-dog of the Presidency because he is afraid of his past. It is public knowledge that the axe of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is dangling on him and one of his sons.
“How possible is it for somebody to just announce the change of party on behalf of a Senator without the legislator concerned giving his consent? We can assure him that more Senators are preparing to leave the sinking ship of APC and Senator Abdullahi Adamu will have more fabrications to do.
“It is surprising that a man of Adamu’s calibre will say that the only defecting Senators are from Kwara. We wonder if Senators Danbaba (Sokoto), Isa Misau and Suleiman Nazif (Bauchi), Monsurat Sunmonu (Oyo), Barnabas Gemade (Benue), Ubali Shittu (Jigawa), Suleiman Hunkuyi (Kaduna), Usman Nafada (Gombe), Rabiu Kwakwanso (Kano), Abdulazeez Nyako (Adamawa), and Dino Melaye (Kogi) are also from Kwara State.
“Senator Adamu is struggling to save his skin but he should at least care about the credibility of the information he is giving out. At his level, he should refrain from circulating fake news.”