Barely hours after Senate President Bukola Saraki formally unveiled his plan to contest presidential election, his former All Progressives Congress (APC) has declared his exit as good for the party.
Mr Adams Oshiomhole, APC’s National Chairman, said in Abuja on Thursday that the party had become stronger and more cohesive since Saraki and others defected to the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP).
He said at the party’s 6th National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, that Saraki and others who left the APC were migrant politicians who had no political address.
‘Our party is stronger, smarter, more cohesive and there is no better evidence than the fact that we have won all the major elections after they left the party.
“We have seen people who go back to their communities to decamp and we see uncommon defectors,” the APC national chairman said.
He, however, noted that while the party leadership made efforts to reconcile genuine aggrieved members, some of those who defected to opposition political parties were determined to leave.
According to Oshiomhole, such persons left the party to pursue their personal ambition which they believed they cannot realise in the APC.
“Though they were not denied the opportunity to try out that ambition, they arrived at the conclusion that the only way they can realise their ambitions was to relocate and they relocated.
“Of course, for a distant observer, he would think that this was a huge blow to our party,” he noted.
Oshiomhole said those who defected from the APC had no political address, because they kept moving from one party to another every season for the purpose of contesting elections.
He further said that such politicians were migrant politicians whose political addresses could not be identified, restating that he would never lose sleep over them.
The APC national chairman stressed that the party’s change agenda meant a move from a political order that services only the political elite at the expense of the poor.
He added that since the change would not allow business as usual, the conservatives had to leave on their own.
According to him, the party has done a lot to reconcile aggrieved members and will continue doing so to ensure peace and unity in all its chapters.
Oshiomhole attributed the party’s electoral victory in Ekiti to the support from President Muhammadu Buhari and the party’s governors.
The APC national chairman specifically thanked President Buhari for supporting the party’s executives, adding that he was indebted to all the party leaders and members.
“We are very proud to say that upon our assumption of office, we have won nearly all the elections that have taken place, particularly the ones at the states, Senatorial and House of Representatives.
“The first task before us was the election in Ekiti and under your leadership, as they say when the righteous rules, the people rejoice.
“The party won the election in Ekiti and your own former Minister who your excellency graciously relieved of his appointment to enable him go back to his state to serve his people, was elected.
“Mr President, you played a huge role in the electioneering campaign leading to that election,” Oshiomhole said.
Saraki formally indicated interest to contest the presidential election in 2019 on the platform of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Saraki defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in July along with some senators to join PDP without relinquishing his seat as Senate President.
His continued occupation of the seat of senate president has pitted him with the ruling APC which controls majority in the upper chambers.
Saraki, a former governor from Nigeria north central state of Kwara, made the formal declaration on Thursday at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja , where he said that Nigerians were crying out for succour which he was in best position to give.
Saraki has therefore joined a dozen of other aspirants on the ticket of PDP, including two-time governor of Kano state, Rabiu Kwankwaso, who made a declaration on Wednesday.
Other aspirants are Saraki’s right-hand man and governor of Sokoto state, Alhaji Aminu Tambulwa; former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and many bigwigs of PDP.
“Many of our children are hungry. Many people are dying of avoidable or otherwise treatable diseases.
“Many have fallen below basic living standards, and are now among the 87 million that sealed Nigeria’s position as the country with the highest number of people in extreme poverty. Our young people lack opportunities.
“The necessary education facilities and system to equip them for the future simply do not exist. We are not creating the jobs needed to usefully engage them in order to grow our economy. And too often, the youth feel shut out, prevented from having any say in the direction of this nation.’’
He explained that the harsh conditions of extreme poverty faced by the people, fuels the state of insecurity all over the country.
Saraki explained that hunger, lack of education and lack of opportunities pushed many Nigerians into criminal activities including terrorism.
“Many of our communities are paralysed with fear – due to incessant communal crises, kidnappings and other social ills, as well as the threat of terrorism.
“We are failing abysmally to tackle the problems of today and to prepare for the future.’’
The economy, he said, was broken and is in need of urgent revival in order for Nigeria to grow.
“GDP growth rate has declined. Diversification remains an illusion. Unemployment is at an all-time high. Businesses are shutting down. Jobs are being lost in record numbers, and the capital needed to jumpstart our economy is going elsewhere.’’
The 55-year-old medical doctor turned politician, boasted he would heal the wounds of Nigerians who he said have been divided more than ever before.
“ Nigeria is perhaps more divided now than ever before. We are increasingly divided along regional, religious and ethnic lines. Nigerians are also divided by class, a festering gulf between the ‘Haves’ and the ‘Have-Nots’.
“The fault lines of this nation are widening to an alarming degree. We must do something fast, and we must be brave about it.’’
He said he would ensure the security of lives in Nigeria and “as things stand now, no one is safe in this country’’.
“No one feels truly safe. We must restore the sanctity of the rule of law and strengthen democratic institutions in order to build a just, fair and equitable society for all.
“We must rebuild the trust of our people in government. We need a new generation of leaders that are competent, with the capability to rise to the challenges of the 21st century. We must pull this country back together and rebuild, block by block, with dedication and commitment.’’