Former Governor of Kwara State and senator representing Kwara Central in the Senate, Bukola Saraki, yesterday took the lead among senators itching to defect to the All Progressives Congress (APC), when he boldly declared himself a member of the opposition party.
Saraki, who was elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2011, made the open declaration for the first time in a goodwill message he personally signed on the occasion of today’s New Year celebration.
However, Saraki’s declaration conflicts with the Senate’s Standing Rules which formally require a defecting senator to first write a letter of defection to the Senate President, stating the reason for the decision.
His defection to APC also had a note of irony, as he was one of several politicians who dismissed the emergence of the opposition party as a marriage that would not stand the test of time.
Saraki had told Senate correspondents last year during an interactive session that in no time, the three alphabets that make up the abbreviation APC might go separate ways.
Specifically, he said “A” would go its own way, “P” would also go a separate way, while “C” would follow another direction.
Meanwhile, in his New Year message, Saraki congratulated Nigerians on the arrival of 2014 and asked them to reflect on the consequences of what he perceived as the retrogressive and repressive policies of the PDP government last year and be motivated to follow him and some others to APC. He berated the ruling party, describing it as a bunch of failure.
He said: “Today, the consequences of the retrogressive and repressive policies of this PDP government by commission or omission has inadvertently created a broader space for the emergence of an effective opposition – a key ingredient of a vibrant democracy. A pointer to this is the condition that has led to the near Tsunami-like exodus from PDP to APC.
“I have always believed that our democracy must be built on party politics of inclusiveness; politics that is embraced by all Nigerians – not some Nigerians.
“For some of us, it is non-negotiable that our politics must be one based on the rule of law, morality, the principles of public trust and fairness and most importantly delivering policies that transform the lives of the people we serve.
“For most of us, it was no longer viable to expect the barest minimum for the people of Nigeria under the PDP. It became inexplicable to promote democracy within a party where these principles and issues must be entrenched, hence, the resolve of the tectonic shift in our political base.
“This is the premise on which some of us in 2013 left PDP and have since joined APC. This decision, though hard, was made inevitable by what we saw as the irreconcilable division in the PDP – a party that lacked any semblance of internal democracy; a party that acted with impunity; a party that did not deliver for the people and the country; and a party that threatened to return our country to authoritarianism.
“Our decision to leave was one borne out of the desire to say no to military democracy and say yes to representative democracy.”
Saraki added that with himself and other Nigerians defecting to APC, the dream of effective opposition has been born, claiming that the trend marked the hope of a new dawn in Nigeria’s political terrain, where according to him, the wealth of the nation would be shared equitably among all Nigerians.
“As a result, I believe the dream of an effective opposition has now been born and the hope of a new dawn of a better, fairer and more prosperous Nigeria where the wealth of our nation is shared equitably with and for all now has the potential to become a reality.
“My hope is that we will have a vibrant opposition party capable of keeping the party in government accountable on behalf of the people of Nigeria. This I believe is the yearning of every well-meaning Nigerian and I join them in the belief that Nigeria will be better in 2014 and beyond.
“However, I am also convinced that change will only happen if we collectively say no to leadership by selection, leadership by ethnic divide, authority by clannish identity and religious divide. This is what we must stand for. This must be the foundation on which a strong vibrant and fair democratic Nigeria can be realised,” Saraki added.
With Saraki’s open declaration of his defection, the expectation is that this would serve as the motivation for his co-travellers in the Senate to defect to APC upon resumption this January.