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Realignments for survival, relevance in 2019



The spate of defections, mostly from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), reached a crescendo on Tuesday when Senate President Bukola Saraki and Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State, two senators, six members of the House of Representatives and 22 of the 23 House of Assembly members dumped the ruling party. Deputy Political Editor RAYMOND MORDI, Assistant Editor LEKE SALAUDEEN and MUSA ODOSHIMOKHE sought the views of some observers and politicians about the development.
The much-expected defection of Senate President Bukola Saraki and his political associates in Kwara State from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) came to pass on Tuesday. He was accompanied by Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State, two senators, six members of the House of Representatives and 22 out of the 23 House of Assembly members.
Politicians lawyers and right activists who spoke to The Nation said the body language of the affected politicians had long indicated that they were bound to leave the party before next year’s general elections. But, the likely impact on the election, they say, would become discernible with the passage of time, as other variables come into play.
Former Chairman of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja branch, Mr. Monday Ubani said Saraki’s resignation from the ruling party does not come as a surprise, because it had become obvious a long time ago that he was on his way out of the party, adding that it is a good development that he has eventually made his final move. Ubani described Saraki as a calculating politician who must have done his homework before taking the final move.
He said: “My people in Igboland say when a snake is inside a hole, one may not be able to assess its height and weight until it comes out fully. At the moment, many things are still hazy; we may not be able to say accurately the impact this development will have on next year’s general elections, but we can hazard a guess. If the APC eventually loses the majority in the Senate, it is going to be a bit turbulent for the party, particularly the dealings of the Executive with the upper chamber; it would become a bit more contentious.
“But knowing the way Saraki operates, he would not have made this move, if he was not sure that the PDP will become the majority in the house. So, before making this final move, he must have secured arrangements to ensure that the PDP becomes the majority; to make his continued stay as the Senate President would be secure.
“He would now ensure that he comes back in 2019 to become the Senate President once again. One, he must be sure that his new political party will win the majority in Senate and he would be sure of his own re-election on that platform, so that he can retain the presidency of the Senate.
“The point is, he must be sure of his political existence and relevance before making the move. The recent of defections is about the political survival of the individual politicians; they are all looking for a breath of live. Where there is no breath of live, they will move on.”
Second Republic politician, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, also said the development was expected. He said: “Saraki has virtually been out of the APC for a long time. All his supporters have already left the party, so everybody has been waiting for him to make this move. His supporters that won elections during the recent APC primaries in Kwara State have been sacked and a caretaker committee appointed to take their place, so the move was expected.
“Besides, given the persecutions that followed his emergence as Senate President, it is not surprising that he opted out of the party.”
Yakassai the recent spate of defections is likely to affect the overall number of votes that would be cast for the ruling party next year, “if the election is going to be free and fair”. He added: “What I do not know is whether Buhari and his supporters would behave the way former President Goodluck Jonathan and his supporters behaved, in the event that they lose the election.”
A chieftain of the PDP in the Southwest, Dr. Eddy Olafeso, said the PDP is Saraki’s home and “we are glad that he is back to the fold”. His words: “Like any other Nigerian, hunted by his own party, will you feel happy staying in that same party? If the future of our nation is at stake, the way it is, will you want to stay behind? Will you want to stay with those that destroy the very fabric of our unity? I want to say that Saraki did the natural thing to do, running away from enemies and embracing friendship. The PDP is Saraki’s home and we are glad that he is back to the fold.
“His coming will enhance the fortune of the PDP because Saraki has become a franchise in Nigeria. You cannot ignore his presence. He was a two-term governor and the number three citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The future will depend on what he does and what he does not do. We welcome him back to our party and we are glad our son is back home.”
Former Minister of Transport, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, who is also a chieftain of the PDP, said it is a beautiful piece of news that Saraki has left the APC. His words: “It’s a very beautiful news to hear that Saraki has left the APC. I am happy about it, when he was with us in the PDP, he was very good. He was upright and when he left I was one of those who missed him. For us, it is something good that he is back to the PDP with Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State.
“He is a very competent fellow; I am very delighted they are back to the good people where they naturally belong.  We are going to win next year election and they have added to our chances of winning. That is why I support wholeheartedly the request by the National Working Coming of the PDP to change its name from the PDP. With that new name by the grace of God, we will go with our allied to win next year’s election.”
A senior lawyer, Chief Niyi Akintola, has ruled out Saraki’s  exit affecting the performance of APC in the 2019 general elections.
Akintola said the impact of Saraki’s defection would not be felt beyond Kwara State. Certainly his exit will not affect APC victory in 2019, he stressed.
He said while Saraki has the right to leave and join any political party of his choice, he should resign as Senate president. The legal luminary said: “The honour and dignity demand that he should step down as Senate president. Unfortunately, honour and dignity are in short supply by the Nigerian politicians.
“The legal implications of his defection can only be decided by the court. But speaking as a concerned citizen, I think Saraki should not wait for anybody to tell him that he should leave the office of Senate President honourably.”
The APC spokesman in Lagos State, Mr Joe Igbokwe, was very blunt in his comment. He said: “Thank God that Saraki the greatest traitor has finally gone; he is gone into political oblivion. I have not forgotten the night of long knife that threw him up as Senate president. After more than three years of disaster foretold, the Judas is out for good.”
To Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, the exit of Saraki was not unexpected; we saw it coming. Members of the new Peoples Democratic Party and the Reformed APC had given us an indication that their departure would be in phases.
Mamora said the utterances of Governor Ahmed and Kawu Baraje in recent time suggested that it was a matter of time that they would leave APC. The masquerade has been unmasked, no one is left in doubt, the plan has been actualised, he added.
The post Realignments for survival, relevance in 2019 appeared first on The Nation Nigeria.

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