By Chibuzo Ukaibe, Abuja, Sam Egwu, Lokoja And Yahya Sarki, Birnin Kebbi
There was mass exodus from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the weekend, as about 110,000 members of the party and other political parties in Kogi and Kebi States defected enmass to the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) ahead of the 2019 general election.
Our sister publication, LEADERSHIP Sunday had reported yesterday that a total of 76,845 of the PDP had moved over to the governing APC on Saturday.
In Kogi State, over 10,000 members of the PDP and other political parties defected to APC at the weekend.
Receiving the decampees that cut across the 21 local government areas of the state at the confluence stadium in Lokoja, the national chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has taken steps in making the country self-sufficient and self-reliant, even though it is obvious that things are a bit hard for people in the country.
“Today the country does not depend on oil anymore but on agriculture. We are almost self-sufficient in rice production. Today we are building a new railway system that will pass through Lokoja. Today the power in this country has stabilized at 7000 megawatts. That is only the beginning of good things that are yet to come”, Oyegun stated.
The national chairman, while berating those claiming that there are crises in APC, said in spite of the claims, many people were still defecting to the party on daily basis.
He however commended the state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, for the manner he had been governing the state and managing the affairs of the party.
Oyegun said, ”I am highly impressed with what I have seen today I will go and tell the President. This is a wonderful crowd; it is a young and energetic crowd. I have no doubt leaving here that the day President Buhari indicates interest for a second term, Kogi State would be one of the major sponsors.
“I have come to receive some very prominent sons of Kogi State into the APC. They say we are quarrelling, they say we are fighting but everyday serious people are trooping into the party”.
On his part, Governor Bello disclosed that the 24 APC governors in the country want Buhari to contest again in 2019.
He said, “APC is the only party in Kogi State; there is no more PDP. All the PDP members that matter in Kogi State have decamped to APC because of the good work President Buhari is doing. As a matter of fact, President Buhari must contest in 2019 and all of us, starting from the 24 APC governors, and myself are ready to support him under the able leadership of Chief Odigie-Oyegun and the current NWC members.
“They have shown us quality leadership, courageous and fearless leadership. We in Kogi State and the entire youths across the country and the women across the country are supporting the President to run in 2019”.
In Kebbi state, a former Minister of Sports and a chieftain of the PDP, Alhaji Samaila Sambawa and about 100,000 of his supporters decamped to the ruling APC.
Sambawa who served as minister of Internal Affairs, Foreign, Sports and Youths Development under the PDP administration formally dumped his party and joined the APC at the Halidu Stadium, Birnin–Kebbi.
Addressing his supporters, Sambawa said he decided to join the ruling party due to the quality leadership offered by President Muhammad Buhari and Governor Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi.
He said, “You will all agree with me that relative peace, security of lives and property being witnessed across the country resulted from concerted efforts and determination as well as personal committed of Mr. President.
“We also bear witness to the tremendous agricultural revival programmes carried out by the federal government under the famous Anchor Borrowers programme that has gone a long way in redirecting the diversification policy of the government towards mass rice production to enable us attain foo d sufficiency, economic growth and sustainable empowerment of our people.”
He added that he and his supporters are proud of the leadership style of Bagudu.
He added that he also decided to join the ruling party to contribute meaningfully to the general wellbeing and prosperity of the people of the state.
The state’s APC chairman Attahiru Maccido, while welcoming the new members said Sambawa defected with over 100,000 supporters and assured them of equal treatment with older party members.
“You will be treated equally and our doors are open to members of other political parties”.
The governor, who welcomed the ex-minister and his supporters, described the defection as a welcome development.
Ruling Party Should Also Expect Own Tsunami Soon- PDP
But the opposition PDP yesterday dismissed claims of massive defections from its fold in Adamawa, Kogi, Kebbi and Niger States, saying those that moved to APC had left PDP months ago.
It, however, told the ruling governing APC to brace up for a defection tsunami that will soon hit it and signal its end as a ruling party.
The national publicity secretary of PDP, Kola Olagbondiyan, who stated this, accused the APC of bandying defection figures that do not exist.
Ologondiyan told LEADERSHIP exclusively that PDP is not bothered about those who had defected, maintaining that they had left the party months ago.
The PDP spokesman said, “Tell the APC people that the issue that is of concern to Nigerians is how their incompetent government will rise to the aspirations and demands of Nigerians; that it is not about bandying figures that does not exist anywhere and claiming that there are decampees into their party.
“APC should wait for the tsumani that will hit them very soon. When the tsunami comes they will discover that APC has come to its natural end. We are not bothered at all about people who had left our party several months back that they are calling new decampees.”
He further noted: “I know that there was a defection in Kogi and Niger and Adamawa. The person who defected in Niger, I know the party had suspended him before his defection. That is the deputy chairman. He was suspended one week before his defection. So, he was no longer a member of our party.
“The one in Adamawa is of course Ahmed Gulak. He left with Sen Ali Modu Sheriff. So, it is not a fresh decamping.
“The only decamping we have is the one in Kogi State, which is Karaku. And Karaku has his own issues, which are local and contained within his area. These are the ones that I know of.”
IBB Tasks PDP On Better Choice For Nigerians
Meanwhile, former military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, at the weekend charged the PDP to ensure that it provides the best option for Nigerians by adopting zero tolerance for imposition of candidate during the party’s primary.
He however gave a pass mark to PDP’s opposition role in the polity, noting that while many thought it could fit the part after many years as a ruling party, it has made the people the centre of their move to return to power.
Babangida who underscored the import of PDP’s visits to Benue, Taraba and Zamfara States, which have been experiencing attacks, added that the people will not forget the party because it was with them in time of sorrow.
The former military president’s position on the state of affairs in the country was conveyed in a statement issued by the national publicity secretary of the PDP, Kola Olagbondiyan.
According to the PDP statement, Babangida spoke in Minna, Niger State on Saturday while receiving members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP led by its national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus.
It would be recalled that a recent statement of the former president on the state of affairs in the country turned controversial, following the emergence of a counter statement and subsequent invitation of his spokesman by security operatives.
Last year, Babangida’s residence became a political pilgrimage of sorts ahead of the party’s national convention.
But expressing satisfaction with what he considered the rebranding so far achieved by the PDP ahead of the 2019 general election, Babangida said, “I am happy at your assurances that there will be no imposition in all your primary elections. It is all about choice and you have promised to provide the best choice”.
Commending the elective national convention of the PDP, the former president noted that not a few Nigerians believed that the national convention would hold, adding however that the outcome was successful.
IBB continued: “Your ‘Reposition, Rebrand and Regain’ agenda is working and I mean particularly the rebranding. Some people believed that having been in government since 1999, the PDP will find opposition difficult but you are carrying on well and providing a better alternative.
“You have also not abandoned the people in times of crisis. I monitored your activities in Benue, Taraba and you just said your party has sent members to Zamfara to commiserate with the people. Surely you have made the people the centre of your return and they will not forget you because you were with them in time of sorrow.”
Earlier, in the meeting, PDP national chairman, Secondus, told Babangida that former leaders of the country must rally together to save the nation from the current administration.
He lamented the killings and economic hardships, which Nigerians contend with on daily basis, stressing that the country has never witnessed the type of division it currently faces.
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