Despite the current posture of the leadership of the All Progressives Congress, (APC), where it sounds unperturbed by the recent gale of defections, there are indications that the party is actually rattled and might be in dilemma about its chances in the next elections.
The defections of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and 14 other senators, which put the APC in the minority in the Upper Legislature, and the exit of three governors – Samuel Ortom, Abdufatah Ahmed and Aminu Tambuwal – and over 38 federal lawmakers is still causing great concern in the party.
APC Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, has said in spite of the defections, the party would win Kwara, Sokoto and Benue states, using labour tactics, but a member of the PDP National Working Committee, Eddy Olafeso, said that “is a figment of his imaginations,” because the APC is roundly rattled.
“Losing the number three and number five man in the government along with three governors to the opposition in one week is no good news to the APC. If they claim otherwise, why did the APC quickly organise a rally in Sokoto on Saturday, galvanising governors of the North-West to drum support for former Peoples Democratic Party Governor Aliyu Wamakko, few days after the exit of the state governor, Aminu Tambuwal?
“Why did Mr. President himself hurry to attend the campaign rally for the Bauchi Senatorial South (one of the two vacant seats, the other being Katsina North) to drum support for the APC candidate in the by-elections? Is it not to increase the numerical strength of the party in the Upper Legislature?
Why have they embarked on the current moves to remove the Senate President after his defection to the PDP? The fact speaks for itself,” Olafeso said.
But a member of the APC National Working Committee (NWC), who craved anonymity said that the position of Oshiomhole was not the position of the party. According to the NWC member, the party would not allow one person to talk it into trouble that it would be difficult to redeem.
While the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan had maintained that the APC still has majority in the Senate, the opposition party had said that it now has majority.
He said for you to know the import of the defections to the party, the President was accompanied to the rally by the party chairman Adams Oshiomhole, governors of Bauchi, Plateau, Kano and Imo states and other party officials.
The APC Acting National Publicity Secretary, Hon. Yekini Nabena said that the APC was concerned with the 2019 general elections and not worried about the defectors.
The party spokesperson said, “As a party, our attention is on the matter in hand, the 2019 general elections. We are united and focused, with an eye to continuation of our winning streak in all elections this year, next year, and beyond. And we will win!”
Commenting on the reason for the President to attend the rally in Bauchi, Nabena said, “You and l know about the status of the party now. You cannot compare this administration with what we had before. This Oshiomhole-led administration has total commitment by all members including Mr. President. That is why you could see that Mr. President attends all campaigns as you also saw in Ekiti.”
A top PDP source also predicated the alleged dilemma in APC to the fact that the defection of Senator Kwankwaso and Tambuwal from the party will diminish President Buhari’s popularity in the South-West, where he scored high votes in 2015.
“You know, presidential election in this country is determined largely by block votes from Lagos, Kano and Rivers states. While Lagos is a given for the APC and Rivers also for the PDP, the presence of Kwankwaso and Ibrahim Shekarau now in the opposition party portends great danger for the APC. Hence, the party is losing its sleep,” he said.
Only last week, aware of this danger, APC Chairman in Kano State, Abdullahi Abbas, said the party was making frantic moves towards wooing Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, Senator Bello Hayatou, Aminu Wali and other big time politicians who have different ideologies with Kwankwaso to return to APC.
He said the current political permutations may have sent APC to the drawing board, because “they know that with Atiku’s return to the PDP, his followership in the North, and in particular, North-West and Saraki’s leadership in the North-Central will deal heavy blow on the block votes the President won in 2015.
Sources said that the continued detention of the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, (rtd), a prince, after being granted bail thrice by the courts, did not go down well with the Caliphate, a development that may affect the votes of the party in the North-West.
On the other hand, however, the recent defections have upset the presidential apple cart in the PDP, leaving it with disaffection among loyal party members who are eyeing the presidency and perennial defectors. One of the party’s presidential aspirants and former governor of Kaduna State, Sen. Ahmed Makarfi, at the weekend, captured the mood, when he stated: “Some people, when you pinch them like this, they run to another party. When the going was tough, I stayed on… but you accept them into your house and you give them the guest room. Next, they take the Master Bedroom.”
Party loyalists like Lamido, Makarfi and Governor Ibrahim Dankwabo of Gombe State, former Minister, Tanimu Turaki, all of who are presidential aspirants on the platform of the party, have expressed disquiet upon the return of Atiku, Kwankwaso and Tambuwal; all defectors from the APC.
Uche Secondus, PDP chairman, has thrown the party’s presidential ticket open, stating that everyone is free to contest, promising free, fair and credible primaries. But a top member of the Lamido Campaign Organisation, said, “The disloyalty stigma extends beyond Atiku and is even louder now with returnees like Kwankwaso, Saraki, Tambuwal. Ironically, these people whose defection in 2014 was responsible for the defeat of the PDP in that year’s election, are being given hero’s welcome.
“For the PDP, it is a dilemma we must resolve sooner than later, between rewarding loyalty and betrayal, between serial defectors and loyal party men. If most members fail to forgive and forget, which does not appear so for now, it is believed this would benefit both Lamido and Makarfi. What they lack in terms of financial resources, they compensate with loyalty to the party and the fact that they have been in the forefront to keep the party from complete disintegration since 2015.”
Yekini said Tumbuwal and Kwankwaso are jokers, adding that the rally in Sokoto was a testimony to the party’s popularity in the state. According to him, Tumbuwal did not defect with full members of the House of Assembly, hence about 12 of them are still loyal to Wamakko and the APC.
He refuted the argument about electoral value of Kwankwaso and Atiku and ability to cut down APC’s vote in 2019, stating that though they are popular in the north, they might never be able to collaborate at the end of the party primaries, as anyone who loses the ticket might refrain from supporting the party’s candidate.
Meanwhile, an associate of Atiku Abubakar, Alhaji Abdullahi Shuga, has said that contrary to a recent publication, the PDP presidential ticket is not a do-or-die affair to the Atiku.
He said “such remarks were only cooked by enemies of his boss to discredit him,” because the statement could never have come from a true democrat who has for a long time sacrificed his resources for the betterment of democratic culture in the country.
He said that Atiku Abubakar is committed to the stability of the polity and the salvation of the Nigerian state from the present economic and socio political turmoil, which explained why Atiku is in the forefront of welcoming new defectors back to the party.
The party said they look forward to the party primaries between August and September, adding that though “it may not be perfect, but will be 90 per cent okay and all aspirants have been enjoined to support whoever emerges the party’s flag bearer.