By Abdallah el-Kurebe
LAGOS—The National Leader of All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, yesterday, accused Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of defecting from the APC because the party refused to guarantee them automatic re-election tickets.
He said Tambuwal was also desirous of getting the APC’s presidential ticket but could not face President Muhammadu Buhari and hence resorted to the PDP.
He also accused Senator Saraki of failing in his legislative duty of providing a suitable framework to push through issues he has accused the president of failing to address.
In a statement titled, “They Go Away Because We Go the Right Way”, the former governor of Lagos State said the APC could be better with the exit of the two men and other defectors out of the party.
He said: “This is more than competition over numbers. What rests in the balance is not whether one party has more elected officials on its roster, but which party has the right mindset and policies to reform Nigeria that she may become what goodness demands of her. We are in locked battle to define the future of this nation and the quality of its governance. This battle pits one party, the APC, with all of its imperfections, that seeks national reforms against another party, the PDP, which symbolizes the perfection of the most selfish designs of the most selfish politicians among us.
“This moral battle informed the recent defections. Those who belong to that PDP mode of thought could find no permanent comfort in walking the path of progressive reform and progress. All the things we have inaugurated such as school-feeding programmes for poor pupils, social security for poor families, affordable housing programmes, greater access to credit for small businesses and greater access to education and health care, these things the defectors could not well abide. They detested President Buhari’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) innovation because it barred them from mis-directing funds into a maze of unaudited accounts from which they could siphon as they pleased. Buhari cut off their clandestine illicit spigot.
“These politicians see accountable good governance and lifting of the common person as the tearing down of their quest for great riches and power.
“Their defection statements swell with high-sounding words and the attempted grasp of lofty ideals. While I shall refrain from being so coarse as to call these statements counterfeit, I must invoke a sufficient level of common sense for the protection of all. Anyone who accepts their statements at face value will quickly experience buyer’s remorse. Their attempt at fine notions aside, what compelled these people was galloping yet blind ambition.
Why Tambuwal left— Tinubu
On Governor Tambuwal’s exit, he said: “Governor Tambuwal’s exit can be distilled to one cause. He covets the presidency. However, he had not the stomach to challenge President Buhari in a primary. Tambuwal felt further insulted that he would be compelled to face a direct primary just to retain the governorship nomination. But for the promise made by PDP headliners like Rivers State Governor Wike, that he would have the PDP presidential nomination, Tambuwal would not have left. His exit had nothing to do with governance of the nation. It was about forging a personal ambition predicated on the defeat of progressive reform not the advancement of it.
“Much the same for Senate President Saraki. Returning to the PDP, he harbours dreams of the presidency but Tambuwal’s ambition will dwarf Saraki’s when the two collide. If Saraki had remained in the APC, he would be unable to reclaim his Senate seat let alone the Senate Presidency. He thus bolted because he lusts for the presidency but was promised by the PDP, at least, a return to his position in the Senate.
“For Saraki to talk about lack of governance is for him to deny who he is and the position he holds. This man stands as Nigeria’s Number three citizen. Clothed is he in ample power and influence. If he saw areas where government and the nation needed help, he could have easily applied his energies to these areas. He could have drafted legislation and easily got laws passed. However, no progressive enactment bears his name for he cared not for progress. He has been more focused on changing the rules of the Senate to favour himself and changing the order of elections so as to coincide with his selfish designs.
“The rest of the defectors were given similar assurances by the PDP as to their offices. The APC refused to make such bargains as they are part of the ancient regime; these bargains are not of our democratic new way.
“There is nothing wrong with ambition. Without a degree of ambition, we would never strive to improve and develop ourselves. But ambition, restrained by nothing but itself, is a dangerous commodity. Unwedded to social conscience, it leads to ruthlessness; it is the father of the deception that leaders are meant to lord over instead of to serve the populace.
“In the final analysis, the reason for the defections is as clear to see as it is crooked in its motives. The APC seeks to reform governance and politics. However, many powerful people believe the established system assures their maximum benefit. Progressive reform would defeat them. They must fight reform and never be allied to it. Thus, they had to leave the APC.
“In a fundamental way, the APC may be better for their exit. It would be untrue to say their departures did not generate concern. As the air clears and we can better assess what is lost and gained by their exit, I can truthfully say the APC will be better off because they are gone.
“We can now focus more wholly on democratic governance inside and outside the party. Inside the party, we have adopted direct primaries to discourage corruption of the democratic process. Regarding public policy, we can now better articulate our progressive stance without having naysayers among complaining that we are going too far or that the good we seek for the people ought not to be done.
“We can more decisively push for the jobs programme, expansion of social security for the poor, affordable housing programmes and a viable mortgage system, national infrastructural programme that will provide adequate power and potable water, basic health care for all, and educational reform. Each of these is important in itself. In combination, these objectives shall reshape the very landscape of our political economy. They shall bring fairness and prosperity where none has been. They will give the average person a government that serves them and the land that they deserve.
“But this prospect means a large segment of the political class will oppose the APC. We, as a party, must have the courage to accept this reality. Having decided to place the public welfare above the private welfare of the few, we must forge ahead no matter the foes aligned against us.
“I believe in the collective wisdom of the people. They will choose the right way for they are Nigerians which means they shall do what is right and just.”
Reacting to the APC chieftain, Ahmed Tinubu that he and Senate President Bukola Saraki left the party because they were denied automatic tickets, Tambuwal, who spoke through his Director-General, Media and Publicity, Abu Shekara, said he could contest with President Muhammadu Buhari in the APC if he so wanted.
“If I wanted to and if the Presidency is what Ahmed Tinubu thinks I defected, I could contest with President Buhari under the APC. I have what it takes to have contested with Mr. President.
“Tinubu tried to rock the boat when he was denied Buhari’s vice Presidency. He thinks every other person could behave his way. If I wanted to contest under the APC as president, I could have done so and only the votes could have produced a winner.
“In any case, Tinubu is confessing that there is no level-playing ground for all members of the APC; that there is no internal democracy in it and that some people were denied their right to internal democracy,” Tambuwal said.
He stressed that while addressing the people of Sokoto State and by implication, Nigerians, he stated his reasons for leaving the party none of which was “automatic ticket.”
“I adduced reasons of my defection to the PDP. The reasons are still on record. Automatic ticket by the APC is certainly not part of that,” he retorted.