Senate President Bukola Saraki and Sokoto State Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and others defected from the All Progressives Congress (APC) because the party could not offer them automatic ticket and unfettered access to the public till.
National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who made the claim in a statement he personally signed, entitled: “They Go Away Because We Go the Right Way,” said the defectors “left the party to return to a motley agglomeration that would promise them what true democracy could not: automatic tickets, sharing of the national wealth and other offices and privileges.”
The former Lagos State governor asked the people to go beyond the debate on the numbers in the Senate and the House of Representatives, saying, “we must pull back from the shallow headlines to recognise that something fundamental is at stake.
“Nigeria is undergoing a historic transition. Sometimes awkwardly, tentatively, yet inexorably, we nurture political and governance reform. We steadily close the door on the old malpractices that have caused a rich nation to reside in the tenement of the global poor.”
Speaking specifically on the Sokoto governor’s defection, the APC leader 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.”
On Senate President, he said: “Much the same for Senate President Saraki. Returning to the PDP, he harbors 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.”
Part of the statement read: “The defections of some people from the APC have generated sensational headlines and exaggerated talk as to what their departures foretell for the APC, the party to which
I belong. Some have predicted the demise of the APC. Those who hope for our decline will be disappointed by the inaccuracy of their desires. The days, months and years ahead will bury such errant forecasts for these predictions are born more of bitterness than of objective analysis.
Much of the attention has centered on which party now controls this or that state and which party maintains a majority in the National Assembly. These considerations are important to members of the political class and the electoral calculations of the political parties. But these calculations cannot be all there is. We must be careful not to reduce our horizon to a mere accounting of elected officials moving from one party to another.
Many in the political class believe this scorekeeping between the parties encompasses all that is important. For such people, the mere holding of office is the sole objective. The quality of governance they provide means little to them. Yet, there are greater things at stake than the fortunes of individual politicians. The people of Nigeria focus their attention on something materially different than this narrow political game.
The people are more deeply concerned with the quality of governance they experience than with the intense cunning by which the political game is played. They are more interested in helpful policies than in the tempests created by politicians in pursuit of personal ambitions. That which provides a better life in a more prosperous nation is what beckons to them. That which shines in the eye of the political opportunist is dross to the average person.
We must pull back from the shallow headlines to recognise that something fundamental is at stake.
Nigeria is undergoing a historic transition. Sometimes awkwardly, tentatively, yet inexorably, we nurture political and governance reform. We steadily close the door on the old malpractices that have caused a rich nation to reside in the tenement of the global poor. The corruption of the past is ending; for it must end if we are to fulfill our collective purpose. With this correction, less public money will be diverted to private benefit. More will be afforded to the causes of the people. The economy is being transformed so that the average person will have a better chance of finding a better life.
We move toward a more democratic union. The old days where a handful of uninformed men and those with deep pockets decided everything for everybody are being swept away. The will of the people can no longer be ignored. Those who would be the masters over the people must now be public servants. A party or elected official may no longer rule over the people. They must govern for the benefit of the people.
By so doing, the arc of our national progress is shaped. Not everyone is happy with this trajectory. As a whole, the political class must relinquish some of its power and wealth so people can enjoy a more equitable portion of the national enterprise.
This is the correct and perhaps inevitable course Nigeria must pursue.
To their credit, many politicians see the need for reform and even champion it. Yet, there are those in the political class who scheme against collective improvement. They seek to halt progress toward a fairer nation. They seek to hold to the old ways. The difference between the two parties and why some people returned to their PDP conclave must be seen in this light.
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 programs for poor pupils, social security for poor families, affordable housing programs, 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 misdirecting funds into a maze of unaudited accounts from which they could siphon as they pleased. Buhari cut off their clandestine illicit spigot.