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THE ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Thursday clashed over the defections that had hit the opposition party.
According to the ruling party, the PDP is charting the path for a one-party state because it has “woefully failed” in providing a robust and effective opposition as required in democracy.
The APC said progressive politics required a formidable opposition that would intelligently interrogate government policies in a way that would enhance good governance.
But, the PDP took exception to the criticisms by the APC, saying that it has become a ‘failed party.’
In a statement by its Publicity Secretary Kola Ologbondiyan, the opposition party branded those defecting from its fold as betrayers.
Also, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar chided the APC for abandoning governance for petty politics.
However, Senate President Ahmad Lawan said the PDP will soon lose more of its members to the APC.
In the last two weeks, two PDP chieftains – Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi and Senator Elisha Abbo – had left the PDP for the APC.
Their defections trailed the defection of former House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara and Alex Otti to the APC.
APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary Yekini Nabena, in a statement in Abuja, urged other opposition leaders to fill the gap being created by the inaction of the PDP.
He said: “It is disheartening that the PDP is pushing Nigeria into a one-party state. As a party that believes in democracy and progressive politics, the APC does not subscribe to this.
“We therefore, challenge other opposition political parties to take the place of the PDP because, even as the governing party, we recognise the importance of rigorous and intelligent interrogation of our policies and programmes by the opposition which the PDP has woefully failed to do.”
Nabena said it was not surprising that progressives in the PDP have been defecting due to its (PDP) inability to live up to its billing.
He added: “For a party unable to run its secretariat, pay staff salaries and its leadership grappling with a crisis of confidence, it will be unfair to expect its progressive-minded members to remain in the PDP which has failed woefully as the supposed ‘main’ opposition party in Nigeria.
“As a party, the APC welcomes new and returning entrants who have come to work with the President Muhammadu Buhari APC-led administration to improve the lives of Nigerians and overall better our dear country.”
The party official said “party ranks greatly appreciate the important work the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) under the chairmanship of Governor Mai Mala Buni is doing to reposition the party by accommodating all interests and ensuring peace, unity, fairness, equity, justice and inclusion and internal democracy in our great party.
“The Governor Buni-led CECPC is working assiduously and has achieved great success in ensuring that the Party is repositioned, united, and conducts the planned membership registration, update and revalidation exercise to produce a clean, credible and authentic national membership register ahead of the planned National Convention.”
Lawan said people were defecting to the APC in appreciation of President Muhammadu Buhari, who, he said, had done so much with so little resources.
He spoke in Abuja when he led Senator Abbo and his followers to the APC National Secretariat. They were received by Buni.
The Senate President said: “We believe that we haven’t seen anything yet. We will see more coming from the opposition parties.
“This is what we expect from leaders. When you see a government trying hard with so little to ensure development in our country, in our communities, and society, the best thing to do is to be part of that effort. That is patriotism.
“We came in 2015. We inherited everything but poor governance. But thank God, the President came with determination and focus to ensure that this country works for citizens of this country.
“That government resources are prudently, efficiently and economically applied for the benefit of the people. Though we inherited empty treasury, the price of crude went down so badly, yet the little resources we started with provided a lot more of infrastructure, of services to the people of these country.
“So, any right-thinking politician, when you see prudence, when you see integrity and sincerity, when you see purposefulness in leadership, the best thing for you to do is not to be left alone. It’s for you to join forces with such leadership for the benefit of people you represent or lead.
“I want to commend our brother, very Distinguished Senator Abbo for taking the right decision at the right time. Nigeria needs every hand on deck.
“This ship is going to reach the final destination by the Grace of God. We will continue to be committed to making Nigeria better irrespective of the resources available to us.”
Lawan, who is also the leader of the APC caucus in the Northeast, said the party would win Adamawa State and other PDP states in the zone in 2023.
He added: “Let me be very specific and emphatic. Adamawa State is APC. People in Adamawa, majority of them are APC and therefore Adamawa State deserves APC Governor, APC National Assembly, APC state Assembly and all the local government areas.
“I lead the Northeast caucus of the APC. We are doing everything possible and we will keep the momentum to ensure that all of Northeast turns APC by the Grace of God either before 2023 or by 2023.”
Welcoming Abbo, Buni said: “Senator Abbo, your entry is timely because we will soon start the process of building this party from the bottom up.
“We are starting with the membership registration across the country and this will culminate in the National Convention to elect our new leaders who will take over the affairs of the party.
“Many more are joining the APC because we have a leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, who is doing justice to all manner of citizens.”
Abbo said he parted way with the PDP because he was fascinated by President Buhari’s prudent management of the scarce resources and his commitment to the poor and vulnerable people in the society.
Reacting to Abbo’s defection, Atiku said APC is preoccupied with petty politics, adding that it is not alleviating the deplorable condition if the masses.
In a statement signed by his media aide, Paul Ibe, the former vice president said: “It is preposterous that a political party which has spent the past five and half years launching humongous and unprecedented hardship on Nigerians finds no time to address and apologise to Nigerians for the false promises of change that they made to the Nigerian people, but waste a whole day self-adulating about politicians who have crossed to join the APC. That is a very irresponsible thing to do!
“Whereas, neither the PDP nor Atiku has initiated discussions with anyone on a 2023 presidential run, it is the APC which has busied itself talking about zoning and focusing on rigging the next election.
“For the avoidance of any shred of doubt, Atiku, like many Nigerians who are pained by the downward spiral of condition of the country under the APC government, has preoccupied himself with proffering solution to the myriad of problems the APC has visited on the country and working hard to contribute his quota in strengthening the country’s economy.
“It is evident that the APC has failed woefully on all the major issues it campaigned against the PDP in 2015 from poverty to insecurity; joblessness and high cost of living; national unity to bad foreign image; human rights abuse to economic recessions – issues which if the APC was a serious political party, should be dispensing its energy in resolving.
“But rather than do that, the APC is prancing about feeling good that its stock of membership is upping, while the economic fortune of the country and its people keeps ebbing.”
Atiku said APC’s attack on his person will not improve the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or take the country out of the current recession.
He said the attacks will neither create jobs for the youths nor resolve inflation, insecurity and mass poverty.
Ologbondiyan, who said APC has failed Nigerians, added: “The prophecy of Chief Tony Momoh that the APC and its leaders will be stoned for failure has come to pass as Nigerians are already stoning them with the words of their mouths.”
He also berated the ruling party for proposing a change of name, saying it is a decoy to exonerate itself from the failure of the Buhari administration.
Ogbondiyan said defectors to the APC are unpatriotic elements.
He stressed: “Indeed, only unpatriotic, expired and lily-livered individuals can seek to join a party like the APC that is synonymous with failure, nepotism, treasury looting, mindless stealing, corruption, falsehood, lies, capacity crisis, confusion, crass incompetence and which finds pleasure in foisting hardship and poverty on Nigerians.”