“When politician meet, they must discuss politics and how to improve on the standard of living of Nigerians. It will not be wrong to say that some issues were discussed. I do not know when Saraki and Baraje will publicly declare their defection. I cannot speak on that.” – PDP Spokesman
Fred Itua, Abuja and Layi Olanrewaju, Ilorin
Palpable anxiety has gripped the Senate, as lawmakers, predominantly from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) reportedly put final touches to their planned defection to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Although no lawmaker has officially written to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to announce his or her defection, it was learnt that negotiations were at a “point of no return.”
Daily Sun gathered that some of the leading lawmakers plotting to dump the APC, were waiting for the last day before the Senate begins its annual recess.
The parliament will be shut from next week till the end of September.
Barring any last minute change, some of those expected to announce their defection include Dino Melaye, Shehu Sani, Suleiman Hunkuyi, Aliyu Wamakko, Ibrahim Gobir, Ubali Shitu, Isah Hamman Misau, Rabiu Kwakwanso, among others.
Saraki, who has been fingered as one of the arrowheads behind a faction of the APC, the Reformed APC (R-APC), may also announce his defection before the Senate suspends plenary next week.
Mohammed Ali Ndume and Kabiru Marafa, in separate interviews with Daily Sun, confirmed that some aggrieved lawmakers in the ruling party might cross carpet.
But Ndume said the defection will not affect the reelection bid of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.
Ndume, calling out Saraki and Kwakwanso, said President Buhari will win in Kwara and Kano states, the base of Saraki and Kwakwanso respectively.
A senator who spoke to Daily Sun in confidence said the aggrieved lawmakers were still delaying their defection to allow the new chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole, resolve the crisis.
The lawmaker said if their grievances were not addressed before the National Assembly embarks on its annual recess, they will be left with no choice than to move to other parties where their political interests will be protected.
He said: “We have been meeting; I mean members of APC both in the Senate and in the House. We have also met with leadership of PDP. They have promised to accommodate us in their party. The only reason we have not defected is to respect the chairman of APC, Oshiomhole. He has promised to hear our grievances and see how he can fix things. So far, we have not seen anything from him.”
But in what observers tagged part of the ground work to perfect the defection move, Saraki, yesterday, met in Ilorin with National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus and other high ranking members of the opposition party.
Others who attended the meeting included former Jigawa State governor and PDP presidential aspirant, Alhaji Sule Lamido, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, his Benue State counterpart, Samuel Ortom, senators Lawal Shuaibu and Barnabas Gemade, Mr. Kola Ologbodiyan, spokesman of the PDP and others.
The meeting came after some of the dignitaries had taken part in the eighth-day fidau prayers for Alhaja Aishat, mother of Alhaji Kawu Baraje, former national leader of the defunct new PDP.
But no one was ready to speak on issues discussed at the over one-hour meeting held at Saraki’s official home. Saraki’s media aides dismissed speculations that it was a political meeting insisting it “is merely for the fidau prayer.”
Saraki had on his return to Ilorin on Tuesday said he would not be rushed on the issue of his speculated plan to defect.
Governor Ahmed, in a statement by his media aide, Muideen Akorede also said the visitors were not in the state for the purpose of a political realignment.
However, he subtly confirmed speculations that the governor might be on his way out of the APC.
“While I have not been briefed on any planned defection, I am aware that my principal and other political leaders in the state are gradually being shown the way out of the APC,” he said.
Spokesman of the PDP, Ologodiyan in a telephone interview said the gathering was a “brotherhood meeting” which featured political discussions.
“Our leaders met and shared thoughts on the future of Nigeria and how to improve on the living condition of Nigeria and how to make Nigeria a better place for all to live in.
“It was a convergence of notable Nigerians. Do not forget that the essence of today was to commiserate with Alhaji Baraje on the death of his mother. When politician meet, they must discuss politics and how to improve on the standard of living of Nigerians. It will not be wrong to say that some issues were discussed. I do not know when Saraki and Baraje will publicly declare their defection. I cannot speak on that,” he stated.
Earlier in the day, Governor Ortom had told newsmen shortly after a visit to Governor Ahmed, that his meeting with the national leadership of the APC yesterday would determine his next political move.
He said the Benue State APC had issued him a red card and hoped the national leadership of the party could reverse the decision.