By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor & Henry Umoru
LAGOS — The Muhammadu Buhari 2019 Campaign, yesterday, gave reasons defections by several National Assembly members will not harm the electoral prospects of the President, saying that the legislators, who left the All Progressives Congress, APC, were laggards who lost out to internal political dynamics.
This came as the APC yesterday described yesterday’s defection of Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP as surprising.
The Buhari Campaign’s analysis of last Tuesday’s defections in the National Assembly also posited that the President won by large margins without the support of those politicians who moved yesterday as it argued that the President did not need them to win his 2015 election and as such, would not need them again.
The Buhari Campaign, in the analysis provided to Vanguard by its Director of Strategic Communications, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN, also deposed that the President is making significant gains in several places he lost woefully in the past, notably in the South-South and in the South-East.
The assertions had earlier been dismissed by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP which through its spokesman Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan described the defections as a signature tune for popular misgivings against the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
“First of all is that I am not disparaging those who have decided to cross. I am not going to disparage them or belittle their influence. I can only wish them luck in their individual endeavours. As to how their defection will affect the chances of President Muhammadu Buhari, I will say that from the demographics we have, from the historic figures we have and from the present realities that we know, it will have little or no impact on the chances of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“These are the reasons: In 2015, in those states where President Buhari had the largest number of votes that actually tilted the scale in his favour in most of those states, there were either PDP governors or PDP senators. In Bauchi for instance, you had a PDP governor and PDP senators. In Kaduna State, you had PDP senators, PDP governor and a vice-president from Kaduna State. In Jigawa, you had a PDP governor, PDP senators. In Gombe you had a sitting PDP governor, sitting senators and the President won decisively.
“In Kebbi, you had a PDP governor, PDP senator and the President won. In Kogi you had a PDP governor and PDP senators and the President won. In Benue, also, you had a PDP governor and PDP Senate president and the President won.
“In Plateau, he did not win, but made a very good showing and there were sitting PDP senators and governor at that time.
In 2015, the President won many states. In spite of the absence of the structure of a sitting governor and senators, he won decisively.
“Now you have a situation where most of these states and more states, where the President has a sitting governor of APC and you also have senators of APC except one or two that may have defected now. Apart from Kwara, there is no state that had a total defection of all the senators.
“So, you can see that in all those states where one or two senators defected, it is not that they wanted to go, but because they needed to go because the local circumstances and politics did not give them a chance and a choice and if the local circumstances did not give you a chance it means that the tide of local circumstance and politics is against you.
“And if the local circumstances and politics is against you and because in all these cases the governors deliberately allowed them to go that means that for every of such defections there is a calculation of an easy and equal replacement if not better replacement.
“It means therefore that what you see as a loss is actually a gain to the President’s chances. When a party allows you to go when you don’t want to go you should understand that in their local calculation you are of less value than the person they want to use to replace you. So, we may be in for a monumental landslide for President Buhari in 2019.”
“In places where you thought the APC may have lost grounds, there are equal and better places where the APC has made tremendous grounds that will make up for those places where you think they may have lost ground.
“For instance in the eastern part of Nigeria, the heavyweights that are coming into the party, people are not talking of them. Chief Jim Nwobodo, Orji Uzor Kalu, Ken Nnamani, Arthur Eze, Hope Uzodinma and in Anambra State where APC was not a factor before, APC came second in the last governorship election and PDP came third.
“In Anambra State Buhari scored 17,000 votes and in the last governorship election 96,000 and remember PDP scored 660,000 during the 2015 election.
“In the South-South we are making inroads and we retained Edo. We have two senators in Rivers and in Cross River one, and Akwa Ibom has one senator and the state is shaking.
“Even people think that he has lost support in the Middle Belt which I think is not true and all those states in the South-South will easily cover up for that.
“So from all the pluses are 80% and the minuses are about 20%. So in the last three years everything taken together if the losses were to be white and the gains to be red, if you mix them together there will be more of the reds than the whites.”
Defections, signposts of Buhari’s failure — PDP
The analysis was however, countered earlier in the day by the PDP’s Ologbondiyan who described the defections as a reflection of the nationwide popular disenchantment with the Buhari administration.
Mr. Kola Ologondinyan, PDP spokesman, speaking on Channels Television Sunrise programme said yesterday:
“We are very happy with their defection because it signposts the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has failed woefully, and Nigerians have become disenchanted with the government.”
He added, “The representatives of Nigerians are demonstrating the anger and the disappointment of Nigerians with their government. That is what led to the defection that we are witnessing.”
Ortom’s defection surprising — APC
Meanwhile APC spokesman, Mallam Abdullahi in a statement last night described the defection of Governor Ortom as shocking and called for calm among party members.
“The Party recalls efforts made by the National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to address some of the grievances raised by the Benue State Governor pertaining to the local politics in Benue State.
“The Governor had left the meeting saying he was satisfied with the assurances given by party leaders. We are still working on giving effect to the resolutions from the meeting. Therefore, we are somewhat surprised by Governor Ortom’s decision.
“The Party reiterates its earlier position that it respects the rights of every citizen to chose their political affiliation but expresses hope that those who have left the Party will rescind their decisions.
“Even with this development, we don’t think it is too late for reconciliation. We have to continue to talk. As long as people keep their minds open and have the courage to put the real issues on the table, reconciliation is still possible.
“We once again call on members across the country to remain calm as the Party leadership continues to work hard to position the Party strongly for the next general elections.”
Senator Abu Ibrahim to Saraki, Dogara: Resign now or we sack you
- Alleges that Saraki, Dogara plotted to impeach Buhari today
Meanwhile, following the dumping of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, by some senators and members of the House of Representatives to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chairman, Senate Committee on Police Affairs, Senator Abu Ibrahim (APC, Katsina South), has asked the Senate President and the Speaker, House of Representatives, Dr. Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara to resign from the party now.
Senator Ibrahim, a close ally of President Muhammadu Buhari, also warned that if both Saraki and Dogara failed to leave the APC in their own interest, he and other stakeholders in the party would be forced to meet the APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, to sack them from the party with immediate effect.
Senator Ibrahim who noted that it had become imperative that both presiding officers in the National Assembly be expelled, said they had it on good authority that the two presiding officers, prior to what happened on Tuesday, planned to commence impeachment proceeedings against President Muhammadu Buhari today.
Speaking with journalists yesterday in Abuja, Senator Ibrahim, who spoke the minds of some other APC senators, said with developments in and around the National Assembly, it had become crystal clear that Saraki and Dogara could no longer be trusted in the party..
Senator Ibrahim, also chairman of Buhari Support Group, while speaking specifically about the defection of 14 senators and 37 House of Representative members from the APC, said the defections were not only expected but also did not come to him as a shock.
He said he made the calculation and came to the conclusion that at least 13 senators would leave the APC.
The senator noted that the only defection he did not anticipate was the Sokoto State senator, Abdullahi Danbaba, saying “I know that those who take Saraki like god will go.
“This is because wherever Saraki goes, they will go. But the mistake they have made is not to realize that politics is local.
“Nobody will say Isa Misau and Suleiman Nazif (two Bauchi State senators) were voted because of Saraki. They were voted because of Buhari. They will lose their seats. Saraki will not save them. They can’t even go to their constituencies.”
On the speculation that some APC senators were quartered in a high-profile hotel in Abuja on the night preceding Tuesday’s Senate plenary to plot change of leadership in the Senate, Ibrahim said he was not quartered any where.
“I slept in my house. I was here in my office and left by 2pm. I was not quartered any where,’’ he said.
Senator Ibrahim, who was categorical that the alleged plot to impeach President Buhari would have started today, said: “The impeachment of the president should have started Thursday. Everybody was planning. We know they were planning.
“They realized and learnt that we know. They knew that if they had remained up till today (Wednesday) a lot of things would have happened. We were planning. This is the National Assembly, the only place political parties meet. We were planning.
“Saraki and Dogara should resign today or the APC should send them away. They are no longer APC members. The only reason why Saraki and Dogara have not left the APC is that they know that if they leave they will lose their seats. But we will force them to leave. Left to me, I will recommend to APC to expel them. They are no longer needed in the party. We will be cured of cancer if they leave.
“Me as Abu Ibrahim, I am asking Saraki and Dogara to leave APC today. I will meet Oshiomhole (Adams) to expel them. Let them leave APC, Saraki and Dogara should leave APC today.”
Ibrahim insisted that the departure of Saraki and Dogara would not affect the electoral chances of APC, but stressed that if Saraki left APC, the party might not lose more than Kwara and Kogi states.
‘’My position is that Saraki and Dogara should leave the APC. We can no longer trust or discuss APC issues with them again. We cannot afford to continue to harbour moles in our midst. Let people be courageous enough and be honest to themselves. We will not miss them.”