THE polity was divided, yesterday, as the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Coalition of United Political Parties, CUPP, tackled the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, over its boast of harvesting massive and unprecedented defections never witnessed in the country due to the failings of the PDP as an opposition party.
Chairman of the Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee of the APC, Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State, had on Wednesday, said his party will shock Nigerians with the number of defections that would be the largest in Nigeria's political history.
Listing recent defectors APC gained from the PDP, which included Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi; former PDP National Chairman, Senator Barnabas Gemade; and former House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, Buni had said:
"Many others have indicated their interest to return or join the party. In fact, I want to assure you all that APC would soon shock Nigeria's political space with massive and unprecedented defections ever witnessed in the political history of our great country."
Yesterday, APC in a statement by its Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr Yekini Nabena
lamented the state of Nigeria's multi-party democracy, saying the inability of the country's main opposition party, the PDP to effectively manage its internal affairs has continued to force out progressive-minded fellows from the former ruling party to the APC.
"It is disheartening that the PDP is pushing Nigeria into a largely one-party state. As a party that believes in democracy and progressive politics, the APC does not subscribe to this. We therefore challenge other opposition political parties to take the place of the PDP because even as the governing party, we recognize the importance of rigorous and intelligent interrogation of our policies and programmes by the opposition which the PDP has woefully failed to do," APC stated.
Nigerians already stoning APC, only traitors 'll defect to ruling party-- PDP
The APC's boast elicited immediate response from the PDP, CUPP and a host of leading politicians across the country.
Among those who spoke on the issue were Second Republic politician and lawyer, Chief Guy Ikokwu, former Transport Minister, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, Second Republic lawmaker, Dr Junaid Mohammed; former National Chairman of PDP, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, former Governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido; former Secretary-General of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Anthony Sani; Chief Mike Ahamba, SAN, among others.
While the PDP said only betrayers would defect to the APC because Nigerians were already cursing the party, the CUPP challenged the APC to shock Nigeria with massive infrastructural development instead of defections.
The PDP in a statement, yesterday, by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the "prophecy" of APC chieftain, Prince Tony Momoh that the ruling party and its leaders should be stoned in the event of non-performance has come to pass as Nigerians are already stoning them "with the words of their mouths."
It advised APC leaders to "perish their contemplation of changing its name as a desperate decoy to exonerate themselves from the failures of their party and the present administration, which have led our nation into widespread blood-letting and excruciating hardship as poverty capital of the world."
The statement read in part: "Our party is already aware of clandestine meetings being held by APC leaders following their realization that the APC, as a political party, has failed as a platform for governance and managing of the broad diversity of our nation.
"The APC leaders, who are already troubled by the post President Buhari's tenure in office, are planning to adopt a new name in order to beguile Nigerians once again."
On claims by APC spokesman, Yekini Nabena that a legion of PDP stakeholders would team up with the APC ahead of 2023, the party urged Nigerians to treat same as false, saying: "The PDP further asserts that the hopeless efforts by APC leadership to beguile Nigerians again with their show-boating and false claims that opposition members are trooping into their party, will not save the APC from crashing, as only those who have lost relevance with the people, having betrayed their causes, would seek accommodation in the sinking pirate ship called APC.
"Indeed, only unpatriotic, expired and lily-livered individuals can seek to join a party like the APC that is synonymous with failure, nepotism, treasury-looting, mindless stealing, corruption, falsehood, lies, capacity crisis, confusion, crass incompetence and which finds pleasure in foisting hardship and poverty on Nigerians.
"Which patriotic Nigerians would want to join the APC that has wrecked our economy, reneged on all its campaign promises, looted over N15 trillion oil money, frittered over N2 trillion tax income, crashed the value of our naira, increased taxes, hiked the price of fuel and electricity, squandered our foreign reserves, shut-down over 50 million businesses, imposed a frightening 23 per cent unemployment rate, accumulated N31trillon in debt and mortgaged our sovereignty to foreign interests through reckless borrowings?
"Which patriotic Nigerian can join the APC that has wilfully failed to secure our citizens from marauders, insurgents and bandits; a party under whose watch, the once happy and prosperous Nigerian citizens can no longer afford basic necessities of life to the extent that they now resort to suicide and slavery mission abroad as options?
"The APC as a party has become irredeemably balkanized, over-weighed with the burden of failure and can no longer be a platform for any credible Nigerian who has the intention to serve the people.
"It is pitiable that while the APC leadership is grandstanding with lone defectors, majority of Nigerians are rallying with our party, having discovered that the APC is leading our nation to nowhere.
"After all, not a few APC governors as well as ministers in President Buhari's cabinet and members of the National Assembly are already fed up and have expressed their readiness to join the rescue train, PDP.
"Indeed, the last five years and particularly the traumatic events of the last two months have shown that the PDP remains the only credible platform for Nigerians across all sectors to realize their collective aspirations and dreams of a virile, united, secure, prosperous and inclusive Nigeria."
CUPP tasks APC
In like manner, the CUPP, in a statement by its National Secretary, High Chief Peter Ameh, dared the ruling party to shock Nigerians with massive human and capital developmental achievements and not defections.
"My humble advice to the APC is that instead of focusing too much on how to retain power in 2023 through defection of anyhow politicians, it should rather concentrate its strength on delivering to the people infrastructure that will improve their means of livelihood and by doing this very simple logic it will easily get the people on its side without too much struggle and unnecessary political meetings that will not have direct effect on the lives of ordinary people of our country."
CUPP said: "Defection has become the usual way that unprincipled and non-ideologically driven politicians exhibit their lack of love for Nigeria. The constant and recurrent masquerade dance by our elected officials has become something of shame to many young Nigerians because it is no longer news that this unprecedented act of defection is done with self-centred and selfish interest. 99.9% of defectors do it to protect their political interest with utter disdain for the interest of the masses who they were elected to serve.
"We should stop electing political masqueraders whose only objective is that of self aggrandisement; the electorates should shine their eyes come 2023 general elections by taking opportunity of the multi-party democratic system that is practised in Nigeria to retire these group of do-nothing-for-nation politicians."
Not possible in Ebonyi - Nwebonyi, PDP chair
Ebonyi State Chairman of the PDP, Barr. Onyekachi Nwebonyi, described the APC boast of reaping massive defections as laughable and unrealistic.
He said: "What has the APC-led Federal Government achieved to allow for such defection? Right now the Federal Government cannot offer economic improvement and security of the lives of Nigerians. Nigeria is presently in recession. We didn't hear of such during the PDP-led government. None of our members, especially in Ebonyi is planning such defection. Ebonyi is PDP and PDP is Ebonyi State. The structure in the state took hard work, resilience and doggedness to build and establish.
"We will keep defending our party, working for our party as Ebonyi people are in love with the PDP. No amount of blackmail or political deceit will mitigate against the success and sustainability and victory of the PDP in the state."
Defections from PDP to APC or vice versa not new - Ikokwu
To Chief Guy Ikokwu, defections in Nigeria are not based on ideology and add little or nothing to socio-economic and political development of the country.
"Defections from APC to PDP or from PDP to APC has been the tenor of our political system for the past four decades due to lack of any ideological ambience or electoral or constitutional provisions for the renewal of the legislators' mandate from the constituents. The resulting voter apathy shows that in Nigeria today the vast majority of the 70 million youths had been hindered from effective participation due to the despotic mis-governance to which our erudite youths are now responding positively."
Focusing on me won't solve problems Buhari, APC created - Atiku
Reacting to APC's boast, the Atiku Media Office asked the party to channel its energy towards how to solve Nigeria's problems created by the APC-led government.
In a statement by his media aide, Paul Ibe, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar said: "The All Progressives Congress has validated the assumption that the major reason the condition of living has been deplorable under the Buhari administration is on account of the fact that the party focuses more on playing petty politics than in actual governance.
"It is preposterous that a political party which has spent the past five and half years launching humongous and unprecedented hardship on Nigerians finds no time to address and apologize to Nigerians for the false promises of change that they made to the Nigerian people, but waste a whole day self-adulating about politicians who have crossed to join the APC. That is a very irresponsible thing to do!
"Whereas neither the PDP nor Atiku has initiated discussions with anyone on a 2023 presidential run, it is the APC which has busied itself talking about zoning and focusing on rigging the next election.
"For the avoidance of any shred of doubt, Atiku, like many Nigerians who are pained by the downward spiral of condition of the country under the APC government, has preoccupied himself with proffering solutions to the myriad of problems the APC has visited on the country.
"It is evident that the APC has failed woefully on all the major issues it campaigned against the PDP in 2015 from poverty to insecurity; joblessness and high cost of living; national unity to bad foreign image; human rights abuse to economic recessions."
There is no ideology--Afenifere
Also, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere said the comments showed that there is no more ideology in politics any longer.
Afenifere's National Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin said: "The fluidity of the politicians shows that there is no ideology or value in our politics any more. The parties are only platforms for elections and nothing more. For as long as the politicians have their bread buttered, they can sleep as PDP and wake up as APC."
Mass defection 'll work against APC -- Babatope
Chief Ebenezer Babatope expressed optimism that Nigerians will vote for the PDP to disgrace the APC, adding that mass defections will work against the APC.
Babatope said: "Let them go ahead, they will find out that they cannot undo the work of God and I know that by the grace of God, the people of Nigeria will vote for the PDP to disgrace the APC.
"Nigerians have suffered a lot in the hands of the APC and they will continue to suffer. So, if they are planning mass defection, the mass defection will work against them and they will be electorally wiped out."
He's ignorant of the history of Nigerian politics -- Junaid Mohammed
On his part, Second Republic politician, Dr. Junaid Mohammed lampooned Governor Buni saying he is ignorant of the history of Nigerian politics.
Mohammed said: "I don't know how much of Nigeria the current caretaker chairman and Governor of Yobe knows. Sadly, he is ignorant of the history of Nigerian politics and sadly, he does not know much of how the party he is now leading came about.
"Nothing is surprising about Nigerian politicians demonstrating their colossal lack of principle. In Nigeria, people join politics not because they want to do good or they believe in certain core principles or ideology. People go in to make money and not even to make a name.
When you look at the APC and PDP, there is no difference between the two of them. They are two sides of the same coin and if you look at the people working with Buhari, you will find that most of them started their career in the PDP.
"The fact that they are now in the APC, with the same attitude, the same corrupt practices, the same irresponsible statements and the same boastful pronouncement, clearly indicates that there is no difference between the two parties. Defection is an aspect of corruption in politics because out of 100 people who defect, you will find that 99 did not defect on principle. Nigerian politicians defect because of money. That is the reigning culture."
PDP members defecting to APC in order but... -Lamido, Sani
A member of the PDP and former Governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido in a humorous reaction to Yekini Nabena's claim came short of describing the PDP and the ruling party as one and the same thing.
According to him, the PDP gave birth to the APC and so defection to and from one to the other is not a big deal.
He said: "The APC is the daughter of PDP, so what is the news if a daughter visits her mother?" he asked.
On his part, immediate past Secretary General of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Anthony Sani, said defections to a ruling party have become a way of life for politicians, particularly in this part of the world.
He said: "There is nothing exotic or quixotic in the forecast by the APC. You know many Nigerian politicians do not play politics of issues but of which political parties have more possibility to win elections.
"And since incumbency plays significant roles in not only our politics but in any polity, it may well be the reasons that have informed the predictions that PDP members will defect to the ruling party as the 2023 draws near.
"And since the records of the ruling APC will be on the ballot in 2023, we pray that politics of real issues of concern to ordinary Nigerians will also find some place in the ballot for informed judgement by voters during elections."
Right-thinking politicians'll join APC - Lawan
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan also boasted of how more opposition politicians will defect to the ruling APC, saying with the governance exploits of President Buhari, any right-thinking politician would join hands with other patriotic Nigerians to salvage the country.
Lawan spoke at the national secretariat of the APC where he presented Senator Elisha Abbo to the Buni-led Caretaker/Extraordinary National Convention Planning Committee.
Abbo had a day before abandoned the PDP for the APC.
He said: "We believe that we have not seen anything yet. We will see many more coming from the opposition party. Only last week, the Governor of Ebonyi State left the PDP for the APC.
"On Wednesday, our brother, our colleague, the youngest senator in the current dispensation, having consulted very widely with his people at home decided to leave the PDP for the APC.
"This is what we expect from leaders, when you see a government trying very hard with so little to ensure development in our country, in our communities and societies, the best thing to do is to be part of such efforts, and that is patriotism.
"The people should always be at the centre and focus of what we do. President Buhari has had a date with history. We came in 2015, we inherited everything but poor governance. But thank God the President came with a determination and focus to ensure that this country works for the citizens of this country, that government resources are prudently, efficiently and economically applied for the benefit of the people.
"Though we inherited an empty treasury, the price of crude went down so badly, yet, the little resources we started with provided a lot more of infrastructure, of services to the people of this country.
"So, any right-thinking politician, when you see prudence, when you see integrity and sincerity, when you see purposefulness in leadership, the best thing is not to be left alone. It is for you to join forces with the said leadership for the benefit of people you represent or you lead."
On his part, Sen. Abbo said he left he PDP because of injustice and that he has now "moved from darkness to light".
"In the first place, the reason why everybody should join politics is to serve the people. The essence of Government is to shield the poor masses and ensure justice. My main mission of joining the APC is because I have seen justice, I have seen development and I have seen desire for the leadership at the highest peak to sacrifice their personal comfort just to make the poor people to feel good," Abbo said.
S-East PDP pooh-poohs APC
Meanwhile, prominent PDP leaders in the South-East have dismissed the assertion by the APC that the nation would witness mass defection of its members to the ruling party.
Anambra State chairman of the PDP, Chief Ndubuisi Nwobu, said joining APC is like going into a tunnel.
According to Nwobu, playing politics of defection would not get the ruling party anywhere, insisting that PDP is strategizing on how to return the country towards development path.
His words: "Joining APC is like somebody who decides to go into a tunnel. Those who are conversant with Nigerian development indices cannot at this time join APC. This is a party that has divided this country as had never been done before.
"This is a party that has brought so much hardship on the people such that we are now a borrower nation. Any right thinking person, after seeing all these failures and decides to join the party, then good luck to that person.
"Some people are saying PDP has not zoned the presidency, but has APC zoned the presidency to the South-East? 2023 is still far, but I am convinced that PDP, being a party with good strategies, will see the need, for purposes of good conscience and equity, allow the South-East to have a shot at the presidency in 2023."
Mere propaganda, says Nwodo
Former national chairman of PDP, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, dismissed the position of APC as a mere propaganda by the ruling party.
Nwodo, who was also a former governor in Enugu State, said that APC has under-performed at both national and state levels and is not worthy of any politician who wants to make positive impact in the society to contemplate leaving PDP for the party.
"On what ground are APC members claiming that there would be mass defection of PDP members to their party? Is it the performance of the Federal Government or the outstanding performances of any of their state governors? What is the attraction for anybody to go to APC?
"APC does not have anything to attract anybody to the party unless the person joining them is misguided or wants to achieve some selfish aims. The allegation of mass defection is just mere propaganda," Nwodo said.
'Dead on arrival'
A leading member of PDP, Chief Mike Ahamba, SAN, said that APC's plot of mass defection from the PDP is dead on arrival because only the fickle-minded politicians will leave the PDP for APC. "Let us wait for the shock, it has not arrived yet. I can assure you that it will never arrive," he added.
On the defection by Governor Umahi of Ebonyi State, the legal luminary said he was driven by his personal ambition. Umahi was driven by personal ambition and not every Igbo PDP man seeks the presidential ticket. Umahi has entered a 'one-chance' bus and the consequence is known to every Nigerians and I want to tell you that this mass defection threat will never come through and the fickle-minded will leave but the solid people will remain in the party. Also, only the bread and butter politicians will leave," Ahamba declared.
Defections inevitable but nothing to be proud of - Oladapo, S-West APC scribe
South-West Zonal Publicity Secretary of the APC, Asiwaju Karounwi Oladapo, said the proposed mass defection was a welcome development that is inevitable but the boast by APC about defection is nothing to be proud of.
Oladapo said: "Many influential PDP figures have already perfected arrangements to decamp. There is nothing anybody can do to halt the exodus. APC may not be an ideal political party to some people but definitely PDP is never a credible alternative to APC.
"Considering the reality on ground, the possibility of a formidable new political party ahead of 2023 presidential election is remote. Hence, many in the PDP that are battle-weary and can't stand being in opposition a little longer have made up their minds to team up with the APC that has the greatest chances of retaining power beyond 2023."
Let's focus on problems, not decampees - Waziri
Former chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, in Adamawa State, Alhaji Bappa Waziri said it is unfortunate that the ruling party is more concerned now over decampees than providing the dividends of democracy to the citizenry.
Wazirin told Vanguard in a telephone interview that any politician that has no value is not welcome into the APC at this time.
He said the present crop of politicians that have so far defected to the party have no political value and urged the party not to celebrate their defection to the APC.
"Those that have defected and those preparing to join the APC were not with us when we won election in 2019. Then why are they coming into the party this time around?
"Nigerians are suffering and if you are a politician that cannot provide solution to the present predicaments of Nigerians, then you are not welcome into the APC," Bappa Waziri, the immediate past ex-officio of the Adamawa Central zone of the party said.