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2015: High-profile defections send panic into PDP camp

The defection is not limited to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the leading opposition party; the All Progressives Congress (APC). The All Progressive…

The defection is not limited to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the leading opposition party; the All Progressives Congress (APC). The All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) also benefited from the massive movement of politicians, who feel cheated by their former political parties.
Last Monday, the APC presidential candidate and retired general Muhammadu Buhari, received Niger State deputy governor, Alhaji Ahmed Musa Ibeto, alongside members of national and state assemblies, and aides to Governor Babangida Aliyu who left the PDP for the APC.
The deputy governor said he defected to his new party alongside 200 others, most of whom were serving aides of Governor Aliyu because of PDP’s shoddy handling of their petition on the gubernatorial primary election in the state.
Already, the Niger State deputy governor, Mr Ibeto, said on Wednesday that he had assumed leadership of his new party, being the highest political office holder in the state. He spoke during the inauguration of the state’s APC gubernatorial candidate, Mr Abubakar Sani Bello’s campaign committee in Minna.
Reacting to the defection last Wednesday, Governor Aliyu denied reports that he begged the former military president, retired General Ibrahim Babangida, to convince his deputy and others who recently defected to the APC, to return to the PDP.
Aliyu spoke during a courtesy visit by the Federation of Advocates for Fair, Credible and Peaceful Election led by elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, in Minna.
He said it was not unusual to see politicians decamping during the electioneering periods, adding that those who defected had the right to do so.
“They said I went to IBB over those who defected. I have passed the stage of begging anybody. Every politician is free to decide on which party he wants to belong to. Let me however plead that nobody should victimize anybody for the political decision they made.
“I have no reason to hate my deputy over his decision to move to the opposition party. We have had a good working relationship since 2007 and it will remain so even after we leave government in May. By now, people have made up their minds on the party they will cast their votes for. We must therefore accept the results of the forthcoming elections. Do not be annoyed with your brother based on his new found political interest. Power belongs to God and He chooses whom to give,” Aliyu said.
Penultimate Saturday, prominent PDP chieftains in Plateau State also defected to the APC when Buhari’s presidential campaign trail visited the state.
The defectors, who were led by a former Minister of Science and Technology Mrs Pauline Tallen, were officially received into the APC during the mass rally held at the Rwang Pam Township Stadium, Jos.
The former minister Tallen, who was also a former Plateau State deputy governor and governorship candidate in the state in 2011, was received together with other PDP chieftains that included Mr Sambo Wampuk, a former director general of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) and a former House of Representatives member Mr Leonard Dilkon.
Also last week, about 435 PDP members in Makarfi Local Government Area of Kaduna State left the party for the opposition APC during a campaign rally for the APC’s governorship candidate, Malam Nasir el-Rufa’i, in Makarfi, the hometown of a former governor, Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi.
El-Rufai’s campaign spokesman Samuel Aruwan cited poor internal party politics in the PDP as one of the reasons given by the defectors, adding that they also promised to work for the success of APC in the state.
A former director general of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Alhaji Salihu Makarfi, and a former information commissioner Mr Saidu Adamu, who had earlier defected to the APC from the PDP also took part in the rally.
President Jonathan was said to have suspended his Akure rally about two weeks ago, following the defection of some aggrieved PDP leaders to the APC in Ondo State.
Among those who defected were Mr Femi Agagu, a former Chief of Staff to late Governor Segun Agagu, two former Speakers of the Ondo State House of Assembly, five former Commissioners in the state, eight former local government chairmen as well as scores of ex-councillors also left the party.
About 48 PDP leaders, who were said to have defected, including former Ondo Assembly Speaker, Mr Victor Olabimtan, were received by party leaders at a ceremony held at APC secretariat along Oyemekun Road, Akure.
On Wednesday, January 14, 2015, the ranks of the PDP in the House of Representatives further depleted as eight more members defected from the majority party. Four of the defectors joined the rival APC.They were Mr Garba Ulma, Mr Zakari Ibrahim, Mr Ibrahim Kamba and Mr Abdulmalik Cheche.
Mr Wilson Nathaniel joined the SDP, while Mr Tony Madwatte and Mr Nwogbo defected to PDM and APGA respectively.
Another member, Mr Benjamin Aboho, defected to APGA, while Mr Forte Dike left APGA for APC.
The Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Victor Ogene, also left APGA for APC.
The same day, the PDP lost nine senators to the APC and other political parties because of the outcome of last month’s primary elections across the country, thereby depleting the membership strength of the party in the Senate.
The affected senators were Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi Central); Bassey Otu (Cross River South); Barnabas Gemade (Benue North East); Mohammed Magoro ( Kebbi South); Nurudeen Abatemi-Usman ( Kogi Central); Helen Esuene (Akwa Ibom); and Ita Enang (Akwa Ibom North East ). Others are Ahmed Zannah (Borno Central) and Saidu Alkali (Gombe North).
They attributed their action to the alleged hijack of the primary election process by the governors in collaboration with the national leadership of the party.
President Jonathan was said to have met with the PDP leaders last Sunday behind closed doors at his Campaign Office, Legacy House, Maitama, Abuja, to address the gale of defections.
Whether this intervention will save the situation, the outcome of February 14, 2015 presidential election will reveal.

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