By By Dirisu Yakubu
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is in ecstatic mood even though it lost one of its most colourful chieftains, Senator Godswill Akpabio to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) earlier in the week.
For a party which recently entered into an agreement with 37 others to forge a united front against the ruling party in 2019, there are more than enough reasons to feel good despite the loss of some members recently.
Barely a week after losing Ekiti State to the APC in the governorship elections which held last month; the PDP, in its estimation “won” the states of Benue, Kwara and Sokoto without a fight, a victory made possible by the defections of Governors Samuel Ortom, Abdulfatah Ahmed and Aminu Tambuwal respectively. But while the return of Ortom and Ahmed was largely greeted with excitement by party chieftains across board, Saraki and Tambuwal’s defection unsettled a few but influential stakeholders of the party. Why?
The Sokoto state governor long before his defection was seen as the anointed bride of some eminent leaders in the country, who want him to run on the platform of the PDP. So rife were the speculations that the leadership of his then party, the APC, had to prevail on him to speak either in confirmation or denial of his alleged romance with the PDP, a party that first threw him into national limelight a couple of years ago. So when he made a grand entrance into the National Executive Committee (NEC) hall to attend the 81st NEC meeting of the PDP following his return to the party a fortnight ago, palpable anxiety hung in the air.
It was all glaring for all to see but the joy of the moment superseded whatever trouble was in the offing. However, it took only a matter of days for the PDP immediate past chairman and 2019 Presidential hopeful, Senator Ahmed Makarfi to bare his mind on the need for caution. Addressing reporters in Lokoja, the Kogi state capital, Makarfi charged the leadership of the party to guide against possible ill-treatment of old members in its quest to accommodate defectors back in the party’s fold.
“Everybody is welcome but we must be careful so we don’t give the impression that it doesn’t pay to be loyal. We must not create a situation whereby you have a home and you have a visitor and when the visitor comes, you give him a guest room to stay, then the next day, he wants the master’s bedroom and then the next day, you leave the home for him…does that happen? PDP must never allow that kind of thing to happen. Let them come in and enjoy the privileges but you must know what to give and what not to give,” Makarfi was quoted in various news media to have said.
These remarks, Saturday Vanguard gathered may have been uttered by Makarfi but mirror the thoughts of some, if not all the Presidential aspirants. Tambuwal is a crowd puller and that was evidently demonstrated two weeks ago at the PDP headquarters. As party stakeholders rose up to exchanged pleasantries with him, the Sokoto state governor made it count the more by having a pep talk with virtually everyone of them. By the time he was ready to take his seat, an estimated eight minutes had passed. It was a big statement, not lost on those with eyes on the sole ticket. Was that a demonstration of the influence he is expected to peddle in a party he left three years ago while serving as Speaker of the House of Representatives?