20 BUSINESS DAY C002D5556 Wednesday 14 February 2018
‘Nigerians must rise against godfatherism in 2019’ 23 Wednesday 14 February 2018 C002D5556 BUSINESS DAY 21 OWEDE AGBAJILEKE, Abuja As the political temperature for the 2019 general election gathers storm, there are strong indications that not all political office holders seeking reelection will recontest under the same political party that brought them to power in the 2015 poll. One of them is Senate President Bukola Saraki. The nation’s Number Three citizen is set to leave the All Progressives Congress (APC) and rejoin the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Recall that in 2013, Saraki alongside former Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwanso and his Sokoto State counterpart, Aliyu Wamakko were among top politicians that joined former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, to defect from the PDP to form the ‘New PDP’ which later merged with the APC. Abubakar recently returned to the PDP with the opposition party saying it will work hard to ensure the return of others before the 2019 general election. One of Saraki’s aides confided in BusinessDay that the main opposition party has sent emissaries to his principal to return to the party. “The leadership of APC is unhappy with Saraki’s emergence as Senate President against the wish of the party. They were particularly irked that he had the full support of PDP senators and tagged it dining with the devil with a short spoon. That is why they charged him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal for corruption. “To tell you the truth, although his body is in APC at the moment, his mind is already in PDP. That explains why he prevented Ebonyi senator, Sunny Ogbuoji, from defecting from PDP to APC on the floor of the Senate recently. He wants to lead other aggrieved APC senators like Dino Melaye, Shehu Sani, Isah Misau, Rabiu Saraki As Saraki heads back to PDP Kwankawso, Ajayi Boroffice to PDP. “In a matter of months, you will witness the mother of all defections in the present administration,” the source who did not want his name mentioned in print revealed. It would be recalled that Saraki’s close associate and current governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatah Ahmed, had confirmed that with the internal disaffection within the APC, they may return to PDP if it was the popular wish of the people. “It is an unlikely scenario. But don’t forget that because we run an inclusive system, the followership decides the direction they want us to go. If they insist that they want to us to remain (in APC), we remain; if they want us to go (to PDP) we go. When we decided to leave the PDP for the APC; it was an inclusively designed position,” he told a national newspaper in January. Already, there is apprehension in the Kwara State chapter of the PDP over his imminent return to the party, even as political analysts believe this will alter the political permutations as the Senate President is said to be eyeing the Presidency in 2019. In his recent visit to the national secretariat of the party in Abuja, the Kwara State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo, appealed to the national leadership of the party to prevent Senate President Bukola Saraki from tampering with the party’s structure when he eventually returns to the party. The state party chairman expressed fear that Saraki’s return may lead to dismantling of the existing state executive committee. Leading members of the state leadership for a meeting with the National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, he said the state branch of the PDP would welcome the serving lawmaker and any other individuals interested in joining the PDP. Oyedepo told newsmen after the meeting that the Kwara PDP would however be ready to make concessions to Saraki on matters that had not been settled including elected offices up for grabs in next year’s general election. He said the state PDP was apprehensive that the national leadership of the party may throw the structure open for Saraki to take over but had been reassured by Secondus. He said: “Our party is not all that apprehensive. We are apprehensive of what the national leadership can do to welcome somebody who had gone away from the party and later given a royal welcome. “It is not Saraki’s coming that creates any fear. It is what the national executive can do to encourage him to seize the party structure from established people in Kwara State. “But we have been assured that the era of impunity is gone. That’s the much our national chairman told us. “So, we are glad that even if anybody comes into our party, we are really not against anybody coming into our party, but whoever comes, must respect the structure in the ground and cooperate with us appropriately.” The party chairman affirmed that Saraki would be welcome in the PDP as long as he does not tamper with the party structure. On whether the state leadership would be prepared to make some concessions should Saraki rejoin the PDP with his people, the party boss stated: “We are ready to make concession on what we have not decided on. “What they meet, now they met the executive on ground, and we cannot remove the Chairman for them or the Treasurer. “If we have not done the primary for governorship, house of assembly, senator, presidential, for example, if Saraki says he wants to contest for the president, we cannot deny him (nomination) form. “And if he wants to return back to the Senate, we will give him form and other people too. “So, we are ready to allow them on issues that have not been settled. But issues that are settled are for four years.” Among those who have enjoyed the dismantling of state party structures upon their defection include Saraki; Atiku; former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi; his Rivers State counterpart and current Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi; Senators Rabiu Kwankwanso, Danjuma Goje, Aliyu Wamakko, among others. Speaking on the development, a political commentator, Daisy Sowole, said Saraki’s return has once again confirmed that Nigerian politicians have no political ideology. According to him, “Parties don’t create ideologies for themselves but rather adopt as their ideology the greatest perceived concern of the majority of voters or the subject of the most massive movement at a material time. “For example, at the birth of the Republican party of the United States, most of its founders including Abraham Lincoln owned slaves. But for the fact that the American masses and voters (who were 100percent whites) had begun to view slavery as evil and were increasingly finding slave ownership very disgusting, the Republican Party came to realise that if it must win elections, it was compulsory for it to adopt “absolute individual liberty” as its ideology. And so it did and won the election. “But in Nigeria the major factors around which the average voters choice revolves are the religion, tribe and region of the candidates. And these are exactly what our parties too have adopted as their ideology and which they offer us. The day Nigerians are interested in good governance, the parties will adopt it as their ideologies. It is that simple”. APC members protest in Ibadan over alleged imposition of candidates INNOCENT ODOH, Abuja Ahead of the May 12th local government election, a good number of members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), in Oyo State Monday morning protested what they described as planned imposition of candidates by the State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi. The protesters, who stormed the Oke-Ado State Secretariat of the party which also doubles as the campaign office of the governor since early hours of Monday, insisted that there will be no local government election in the party without free, fair and credible primary which will encompass all groups within the party from wards to local governments. They alleged that the governor has perfected plans to substitute the delegates’ list with his own people so that only those who are loyal to him can emerge as candidates of the party. The placards carrying protesters with various inscriptions such as “Stop imposition of candidates Ajimobi”, “APC do not belong to SENACO alone”, “No credible no election” and “Ajimobi Ole” among other unprintable words blocked the popular Molete-Oke Ado- Dugbe Road for several hours and later caused traffic gridlock in the area. It was after they made their intention known at the party office when the joint state security outfit, code named “Operation Burst” came to bring the situation under control. The Operation Burst Team who shot into the air directly at the protesters made the protesters to take to their heels and run for their lives as journalists were not allowed to take photographs. Journalists at the scene were asked to leave the premises immediately. Efforts to get reactions of the party during the protest proved abortive as the State Secretary of the party, Mojeed Olaoya who was asked to speak on the protest said he was not ready to speak, alleging that the journalists were being mobilised and sponsored to monitor the protest by some aggrieved members of the party. Olaoya alleged that the protesters and the journalists who came to monitor the procession were alleged to have been sponsored by the likes of Ex- Chairman, Caretaker Committee for Ibadan North West local government, Wasiu Olatunbosun and former Special Adviser on Political Matter to the governor, Fatai Ibikunle. The state scribe while speaking further said he was surprised that journalists have bombarded the secretariat to monitor the protest as he accusing them of being biased. He said he was surprised that no journalist came to the secretariat the two times when the governor was at the secretariat to address members of the party on the proposed local government election. According to him, when the governor was here to address party members on the proposed local government election, none of you were here, now that some members of the party that have benefitted immensely from the party, Fatai Ibikunke and Wasiu Olatunbosun who have benefited from the party are now sponsoring some people against the party and the governor.