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Prominent politicians who defected to APC after May 29

As notable in Nigerian politics, after the 2023 general elections, there have been defections by key opposition figures into the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).…

As notable in Nigerian politics, after the 2023 general elections, there have been defections by key opposition figures into the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Political analysts have often described this movement as realignment of interests.

The defectors, most of who hinged their decision on “irreconcilable crises” in their former parties, described the APC as the only platform committed to addressing the various challenges bedeviling the country.

Daily Trust on Sunday reports that defection of politicians from one party to another has become a tradition in Nigeria’s political landscape. Pundits said those who did so had various reasons. 

Daily Trust on Sunday chronicles some of the prominent politicians, who have since found a new home in the ruling party.

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Prof Ahmed Rufa’i Alkali and other NNPP chieftains

Perhaps, one of the most shocking of the defections was that of Professor Ahmed Rufa’i Alkali, the former national chairman of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP). He defected from the NNPP to the APC on October 30, 2023 with many other chieftains of the party.

The NNPP chieftains who defected alongside Alkali are the Kaduna State governorship candidate, Senator Sulaiman Hunkuyi; Benue State gvernorship candidate, Prof Bem Angwe; Yobe governorship candidate, Garba  Umar; ex-Gombe Commissioner for Women Affairs, Binta Bello; Gombe senatorial candidate, Abigail Albashi; Kaduna State NNPP chairman, Nuhu Audu; ex-Kaduna Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chairman and the immediate past secretary of the NNPP (North West), Dr Isa Shika and Kaduna senatorial candidate, Mikaih Takwat.

Others are the Kaduna NNPP secretary, Major Yahaya Shinko (retd); Kaduna zonal chairman, Usman Danbaba; former Cross River State commissioner, Godwin Ettah; Gombe House of Reps candidate, Adamu Gargajiga; Benue senatorial candidate, Isaac Idu; Benue NNPP deputy chairman, Ihyom Asongu; ex-Benue Commissioner for Information, John Tine; Gombe House of Representatives candidate, Bukar  Mailafiya; and ex-Gombe Commissioner for Community Development and Poverty Alleviation, Aishatu Hashidu, among others.

The development came two days after the South East chapter of the NNPP disowned the presidential candidate and leader of the party and former governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and settled for Dr Boniface Aniebonam, who founded the party 22 years ago.

The defectors were received at the APC national secretariat in Abuja by the party’s national chairman, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and other members of the National Working Committee (NWC). 

Speaking during the event, Prof Alkali said, “Mr Chairman, before you today are some of the leading members of the NNPP. As Your Excellency may be aware, most of us seated here participated actively in building and strengthening the NNPP political base as a formidable political movement that enabled the party to field candidates in virtually every electable position throughout the 36 states of the federation and Abuja.

“To us, the APC is more accommodating. We are even more convinced that there is a sense of urgency to address the political, economic and social issues that confront our country in order to bring greater good to the greater number of Nigerians, especially the poor, the underprivileged, the women, the youth and other vulnerable groups in our society. And we believe President Bola Ahmed Tinubu will see us through.”

Welcoming the defectors, Ganduje said, “It (NNPP) was a decent party before it was bought and polluted by the Kwankwasiyya Movement. But you have done well by retracing your steps to the right party, which is the APC. I promise to convey your congratulatory message to President Bola Tinubu and arrange for you to meet him face to face.”

Ramalan Yero

He is a former governor of Kaduna State. He joined the APC, five months after leaving the Peoples Democratic Party.

The former governor, who served the state from 2012 to 2015 on the platform of the PDP, joined the APC on February 11, 2024.

Explaining why he defected, Yero said, “Since the very day we announced our defection from the PDP, many political parties contacted us, including the ruling APC. We met and discussed since the very day we left our former party. Therefore, from today, being February 12, 2024, myself and representatives of other political associates have decided to join the APC. After our decision, we met with the state governor and had a discussion with him. We told him that we accepted to join the party based on the invitation we received.”

Senator Ifeanyi Ubah

Ubah, who represents Anambra South in the National Assembly, had in October 2023  defected from the Young Progressives Party (YPP) to the APC.

He informed the Senate of his defection in a letter read by Senate President Godswill Akpabio during plenary. Ubah explained that his decision to join the ruling party was premised on some irreconcilable differences in the YPP.

He thereafter stormed the APC national secretariat in Abuja on October 11, 2023 with his supporters and Anambra State Executive Committee members, where he was received by the party’s national chairman, Dr Ganduje and other members of the National Working Committee (NWC). 

It was gathered that the party has put in motion, a plan to make further inroads into the South East by taking over Anambra from the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in the 2025 governorship election. 

On October 6, Ganduje said President Tinubu approved a blueprint for political liberation of the South East and urged political bigwigs in the region to unite and key into it.

Addressing the gathering, Ganduje, who announced Ubah as the leader of the party in the state, said he would deliver the state to the APC in 2025.

He said, “This is the biggest fish we have caught since I became the chairman. Let’s see what is happening in the South East. With five states, three are controlled by different political parties. We have the PDP, Labour Party (LP) and APGA. The remaining two are APC states. Now, where is the sense of unity in a geopolitical zone with five states controlled by four political parties? Is this a sense of collective decision to participate in national politics? No.”  

Some analysts said Senator Ubah would likely contest the party’s ticket to run against Governor Charles Soludo, who would be seeking a second term in 2025.

Salihu Tanko-Yakasai

He is a former governorship candidate of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) in Kano State, but he dumped the party for the APC on August 30, 2023. 

In a post on  his verified X handle, Tanko-Yakasai stated that a former governor of Kano State and the current national chairman of the APC, Dr Ganduje, urged him to return to the party to help in “consolidating its gains.

The post reads, “The national chairman of the APC, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (OFR), has requested me to return to the party and continue to give my best in consolidating the gains of the party from top to bottom, which I have gladly accepted.”

Before joining the PRP, Yakasai had worked with Ganduje but fell out with him before the elections. He has since reunited with his former boss, now serving as one of the APC national chairman’s aides.

Senator Halliru Dauda Jika

He was the Bauchi State governorship candidate of the NNPP in the 2023 election.

After he received his APC membership card at the Kafin Madaki ward in Ganjuwa Local Government Area in the state, Jika said, “All APC members in Bauchi State will now come together, harmonise and strategise, fuse together as one solid entity ahead of the 2027 polls so that we will emerge victorious in Bauchi State. My return to the APC is marking the beginning of a new dawn in the party in Bauchi State.”

27 Rivers lawmakers, others defect 

Twenty-seven members of the Rivers State House of Assembly on the platform of the PDP, had in December 2023 defected to the APC following the feud between the state governor, Sim Fubara and his predecessor, who is the current Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike.

The lawmakers cited division within the PDP as the primary reason for their defection to the APC. The affected lawmakers are said to be loyal to Wike.

Two officials of the PDP in Benue State also defected to the APC on January 3, 2024. They are Vincent Yandev Amaabai, a national ex-officio and Mbakorlumun James Chia, the state vice chairman for Benue North-West (Zone “B”) senatorial district.

The state publicity secretary of the PDP, Bemgba Iortyom, had in a statement noted, “PDP understands that migration of politicians of a particular kind from the opposition to the ruling party has become a common feature of our politics and sees nothing unusual about this current episode of it.”

Also, on December 4, 2023, a stalwart of the PDP and former contender for the House of Representatives, Babatunde Agunbiade, officially defected to the APC in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State. He defected with scores of his supporters 

In his address at the rally, Agunbiade cited the country’s best interest and his supporters’ yearnings as the primary motivation for his decision to switch allegiance.

A few days ago, scores of members of the PDP and the Zenith Labour Party in Ondo State defected to the APC. The official defection took place at the APC secretariat in Akure, the state capital on Wednesday.

The defectors are a former member of the state House of Assembly, Mr Tomide Akinribido; former House of Representatives candidate of the PDP, Mr Dare Aliu; Dr Felder Olatunji, Olu Falolu, Ayodele Ikumawoyi, Pastor Olatunde Felix, Chief Pius Akinrinmola, among others.

On December 5, 2023, scores of PDP members also defected to the APC in Kwara State.

The defectors, numbering about 200, were led by a former chairman of Ifelodun Local Government Area under the Governor Abdullfatah Ahmed administration, Muyiwa Oladipo (Kanu).

The Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly, Yakubu Danladi-Salihu and the APC chairman in Irepodun Local Government, Abdulhafeez Yakubu, received the defectors at the local government secretariat in Omu Aran. 

In an earlier interview with Daily Trust on Sunday , a renowned political analyst, Professor Kamilu Sani Fage, said it’s always an easy decision for politicians in the country to switch political parties because most of them only see the political parties as a vehicle to achieve their personal ambitions.

He said it was difficult to identify political parties based on manifestos or ideologies; hence it is easier for politicians to move freely from an opposition party to a ruling party, and vice versa. He added that because of personal goals and lack of ideology, most politicians find it difficult to remain in the opposition.

Also commenting, a professor of Political Science, Tunde Adeniran, told Daily Trust on Sunday that the quest for materialism and lack of political ideology are some of the factors responsible for defection of opposition leaders and members to the ruling party after elections.

He said, “There is the rush at different levels and by various politicians to join the ruling party because of lack of ideology.

“It ordinarily should serve as a compass to guide members of the political class and their followers.

“In its absence, the majority of politicians act without integrity, principles or values-guided direction. They are, therefore, prompted by materialism in their actions.”

 

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