As politicking gathers momentum ahead of the 2023 general election, the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday asked Nigerians to watch out for what it described as unprecedented massive defection from opposition parties to its fold. The party added that the defection is such that has never been witnessed in Nigeria’s political history.
Chairman, caretaker committee of the APC and Yobe State governor, Mai Mala Buni, who stated this while addressing the APC Senate Caucus at the National Assembly complex, said Nigerians will soon be shocked by a gale of defections into the party.
Buni’s declaration comes a few days after he led progressive governors to visit former President Goodluck Jonathan on his 63rd birthday.
This was after the party had also received the Ebonyi State governor, Engr David Umahi, from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) amid speculations that more governors from the opposition party will follow after Umahi.
Buni who went to update the lawmakers on developments within the governing party yesterday said on assumption of duty as chairman, caretaker/extraordinary convention planning committee (CECPC) of the APC, the committee developed a roadmap and development plan to serve as a guide towards achieving a set target.
He added that a bottom to top approach his committee adopted, which hinges on genuine and true reconciliation, has placed the party’s interest above personal and selfish interests.
He also pointed out that the reconciliatory mission of the committee has yielded positive results for the party in terms of swelling the party’s membership with critical players.
Buni said, “Today, we are proud to say that the conflicts in most, if not all of the states have been settled. The party now proudly parade political heavyweights in their respective states who have either returned back to the party or freshly joined the party.
“We have the former Speaker of the House of Representatives Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Former PDP National chairman, Senator Barnabas Gemade, several members of the National Assembly, Chief Jimoh Ibrahim, former Head of Service of the Federation, Mr Danladi Kifasi, Senator Isa Hamman Misau, Alhaji Salisu Takai, among others.
“Our recent big catch of a very no less personality than the Executive Governor of Ebonyi state, His Excellency Mr Dave Umahi and several legislators of the state assembly are indeed great milestones in our restoration process. Many others have indicated interests to either return or join the party.
“In fact, I want to assure you all that APC will soon shock Nigeria’s political space with massive and unprecedented defections ever witnessed in the political history of our great country, and by the grace of God, APC will undoubtedly remain Nigeria’s leading political party”.
On the membership registration exercise by the party, the APC chairman said it was regrettable that since the initial membership registration exercise of 2013, APC has no authentic and current register in all 36 states and FCT Abuja.
Buni noted that some members who left the party in 2018 and joined the opposition party still have their names on the party register while many others who joined APC from 2014 to date do not have their names in the register.
He stated: “It therefore becomes imperative for the party to revalidate its Membership Register, expunge names of those who had left the party and include those who have joined the party from 2014 to date in compliance with Article 9:4 of the Party Constitution.
“Similarly, the annual membership dues payment, which has almost been totally neglected overtime, is a clear violation of Article 9:1(I) of the Party Constitution. The committee therefore finds the membership revalidation exercise as necessary to capture all members to promote internal democracy in the party”.
He added that preliminary plans has been concluded for the commencement of the first phase of the exercise in the next few weeks with the expectation to cover members both within the country and those in diaspora.
He lauded the members of the APC Senate Caucus for having faith in and supporting the party, describing their support to the government since 2019 as exemplary even as he promised the lawmakers, APC’s continued support.
He continued: “I commend you most sincerely for supporting the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee constituted by the National Executive Committee which I am opportune to chair. Your individual and collective support has contributed immensely to the progress made in repositioning our great party.
“Similarly, your support to the government from 2019 to date has been exemplary. The timely confirmation of ministers and other requests by Mr President as well as your commitment to ensuring early passage of the budget further demonstrates the cordial and excellent relationship maintained between the legislative and executive arms of government. Let me also reassure you that you will always enjoy the support of the party”.
The meeting, after Buni’s address, went into a closed-door session. The meeting was attended by the Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan, principal officers of the Senate and other Senators elected on the platform of the APC.
Why I Dumped Opposition Party – Sen Abbo
In a related development, the Senator representing Adamawa North, Elisha Abbo, yesterday announced his defection from PDP to APC.
Abbo blamed Adamawa State governor, Umaru Fintiri, for his decision to exit PDP.
In a letter he addressed to the Upper legislative chamber which was read on the floor of the House by Senate president, Ahmed Lawan, Abbo explained that his decision to defect to the APC was not only premised on the ground of mishandling of the affairs of the PDP in Adamawa State but also on personal conviction that President Muhammadu Buhari’s policies have placed more premium on the welfare of the citizens.
He said, “Today I join the APC and the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhamadu Buhari to build the Nigeria of our dreams.
“This is as a result of the mismanagement of the PDP by Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri in Adamawa State which led to the crisis in the party that in turn led to the polarization of the party in the state (PDP and rPDP).
“The journey may be long, but we are on the right track as I strongly believe that by the end of the tenure of Mr. President, Nigeria will be a better place.”
You Will Vacate Your Seat, PDP Tells Adamawa Senator
But in a swift reaction, the PDP national leadership declared that moves have commenced to replace Abbo as Senator representing Adamawa North following his defection to APC.
The national publicity secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan who stated this while reacting to the senators defection, said the party won’t allow Abbo to continue to occupy the senatorial seat which he won on PDP’s platform.
Ologbondiyan who noted that PDP was not fazed by Abbo’s decision to join the APC, said the constitution is clear that he has to vacate the seat.
The PDP national spokesman said, “He (Abbo) is fully aware of the constitutional implication of his decision to defect to another party, which is that he cannot continue to occupy the seat of the PDP in the Senate.
“The place of any Senator who changed party except on grounds provided by the Constitution is very clear and the PDP will not allow Senator Abbo to run away with our mandate. It is impossible.
“Our party had already commenced processes for his replacement with a credible, stable and acceptable person, to take over his seat in the Senate”.
APC Mulls Sending Leaders To Constituencies For Registration
Meanwhile, the national leadership of APC is considering delegating top party leaders to their states of origin ahead of the commencement of the party’s membership registration and revalidation exercise, LEADERSHIP gathered yesterday.
The move, it was further learnt, is aimed at forestalling and reducing the chances of party bigwigs hijacking the process for personal gains in the event of an election.
This, inside sources said, will further strengthen internal democracy as well as enhance and entrench the culture of fairness.
Meanwhile, the APC has revealed that the delay in commencement of the registration and revalidation drive was because the party had not taken delivery of all necessary materials needed for the exercise.
Deputy national publicity secretary, Yekini Nabena, who disclosed this, also said that the party was desirous of holding the exercise simultaneously across the 36 states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory.
Nabena said, “We will begin the registration exercise as soon as we receive all the materials from the printers.
“I believe this will happen very, very soon. Recall, the Chairman of the Caretaker/ Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee of our great party, Governor Mai Mala Buni, recently received the first batch of the materials, here at the party National Secretariat.
“What is left is to receive the remaining materials then we set up the various committees to handle the exercise across the country. Arrangements have reached an advanced stage; I can assure you.
“What is left is to receive the remaining materials then we set up the various committees to handle the exercise across the country. Arrangements have reached an advanced stage; I can assure you”.
He further stated that the party was preparing to receive more defectors from the opposition PDP, noting that the APC had enough room to accommodate as many Nigerians as are willing to join the progressive train.
We Didn’t Adopt Yari As Oshiomhole’s Successor – Aspirants Forum
Meanwhile, the APC Aspirants Forum has dismissed media reports that it adopted the former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, as the candidate for the party’s national chairmanship position in the forthcoming national convention.
The forum was reacting to a press statement purportedly issued on its behalf by one Bashir Muhammed Yusif, saying the former Zamfara governor stands a better chance of taking the APC back to its winning ways.
But members of the forum, comprising aspirants who contested the 2018 APC primaries into various elective positions, dissociated themselves from the said statement.
In a press statement by its national secretary, Sheriff Yusuf Banki, the Forum said Bashir Muhammed Yusif had been unanimously suspended as BoT chairman of the Forum since 2019 for gross misconduct and non-payment of full expression of interest and nomination fees for the House of Representatives seat.
Banki said Yusif has not been readmitted and cannot speak for the Forum, even as he urged the impostor to immediately stop parading himself as national coordinator of the forum.