• Why I quit ruling party, by Senate President
• More govs will defect to opposition, says Wike
After a series of intrigues, Senate President Bukola Saraki, yesterday announced his defection from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He made the announcement on his Twitter handle @bukolasaraki in the evening.
It reads in part: “I wish to inform Nigerians that, after extensive consultations, I have decided to take my leave of the All Progressives Congress (APC).”
The announcement was immediately followed by a very comprehensive statement signed by Saraki in which he explained the circumstances leading to his defection which he said was not a decision that he made lightly.
He went on: “If anything at all, I have tarried for so long and did all that was humanly possible, even in the face of great provocation, ridicule and flagrant persecution, to give opportunity for peace, reconciliation and harmonious existence.
“Perhaps, more significantly, I am mindful of the fact that I carry on my shoulder a great responsibility for thousands of my supporters, political associates and friends, who have trusted in my leadership and have attached their political fortunes to mine. However, it is after an extensive consultation with all the important stakeholders that we have come to this difficult but inevitable decision to pitch our political tent elsewhere; where we could enjoy greater sense of belonging and where the interests of the greatest number of Nigerians would be best served.”
He said the decision to quit APC was inescapably imposed on him by certain elements and forces within the party who have ensured that the minimum conditions for peace, cooperation, inclusion and a general sense of belonging did not exist.
According to him, the elements have done everything to ensure that the basic rules of party administration, which should promote harmonious relations among the various elements within APC, were blatantly disregarded.
Saraki alleged that all governance principles, which were required for a healthy functioning of the APC and the government, were deliberately violated or undermined: “All entreaties for justice, equity and fairness as basic precondition for peace and unity, not only within the party, but also the country at large, were simply ignored, or employed as additional pretext for further exclusion.
“The experience of my people and associates in the past three years is that they have suffered alienation and have been treated as outsiders in their own party. Thus, many have become disaffected and disenchanted. At the same time, opportunities to seek redress and correct these anomalies were deliberately blocked as a government-within-a-government had formed an impregnable wall and left in the cold, everyone else who was not recognized as ‘one of us’. This is why my people, like all self-respecting people would do, decided to seek accommodation elsewhere.”
Saraki noted that the framers of the nation’s constitution envisaged a degree of benign tension among the three arms of government if the principle of checks and balances must continue to serve as the building block of the country’s democracy.
He said as a leader of the party, he had ensured that tension did not escalate at any time in such a way that it could encumber executive function or correspondingly, undermine the independence of the legislature.
He said he had made great efforts in the overall interest of the country, in spite of his personal predicament, to manage situations that would otherwise have resulted in unsavoury consequences for the government and the administration.
“However, what we have seen is a situation whereby every dissent from the legislature was framed as an affront on the executive or as part of an agenda to undermine the government itself. The populist notion of anti-corruption became a ready weapon for silencing any form of dissent and for framing even principled objection as ‘corruption fighting back’”.
Saraki alleged that persistent onslaught against the legislature and open incitement of the people against their own representatives became a default argument in defence of any short-coming of the government in a manner that betrays all too easily, a certain contempt for the constitution itself or even the democracy that it is meant to serve.
The Senate president said the emergence of new party executives a few weeks ago held out some hopes, however slender.
“The new party chairman has swung into action and did his best alongside some of the governors of APC and the vice president. I thank them for all their great efforts to save the day and achieve reconciliation. Even though I thought these efforts were coming late in the day, but seeing the genuine commitment of these gentlemen, I began to think that perhaps it was still possible to reconsider the situation.”
With Saraki’s defection yesterday, the PDP now maintains a slight majority in the Senate, a situation that further jeopardizes the chances of the APC, particularly in having its way in the upper chamber.
Also yesterday, Governor Ahmed Abdulfatah of Kwara State defected to the PDP.
Meanwhile, the PDP has welcomed Saraki, Abdulfatah and the Nigerian Ambassador to South Africa, Alhaji Ahmed Ibeto, to its fold.
The party said the coming of Saraki and others could not have been at a better time than now when the nation required the input of genuine patriots that would save her from an impending decline.
In a statement by the PDP spokesman, the opposition party noted that Saraki conducted the affairs of the Senate in reflection of the wishes of the silent majority of Nigerians and had emerged a hero of democracy.
In his reaction, Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike said more governors would defect to the PDP.
According to him, the continuous harassment and intimidation by the APC- led Federal Government would, on the contrary, embolden PDP leaders across the country to stand firm against tyranny, dictatorship and failed governance.
The governor, who stated this at Government House, Port Harcourt, said the level of impunity under the present administration had surpassed what was obtainable during the era of military dictatorship in the country.