OLUSOLA FABIYI writes on the recent defection of over 5,000 members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress in Kogi State
The opposition All Progressives Congress recently had cause to celebrate the entrance of fresh defectors from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party. The fears that the party’s leaders may not grace the occasion gave way to jubilation when the National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, joined notable members of the party at the rostrum.
Odigie-Oyegun was at his best when he reeled out numerous reasons why the PDP should be voted out of power in the state and at the federal levels come 2015.
For beginners, he asked all present to take a look at the dilapidated roof of the stadium. He also wondered if youths in the state were not interested in playing football due to the stadium’s poor standard and lack of maintenance. Some of the party’s supporters at the stadium laughed, others cursed and yet others called the state government and its leaders unprintable names.
Odigie-Oyegun, a one-time governor of Edo State, expressed his sympathies with the state civil servants, especially teachers. He said, “Teachers are not paid. Workers are not paid. It is a challenge for you to ensure that they (PDP) do not rise again. “Potholes are all over the roads. It is not an easy job. But we shall not make the mistake we made in the past by not protecting our votes. I want to assure you that the APC is the only party with vision. It is dependable and willing to change things.”
According to him, it was a thing of joy to see over 5,000 members of the ruling party abandoning the umbrella for broom, which is the symbol of the APC.
The defectors were led by a former acting governor of the state, Chief Clarence Olafemi, a former House of Assembly Speaker, Abdullahi Bello, and a former chairman of the party, John Odahu. With other defectors, the downpour did not prevent them from trooping into the stadium, where they told the gathering that they were no longer members of the ruling PDP.
Just as they were dancing and singing, supporters of the defectors as well as members of the APC, who have eyes on elective offices – held the banners of their candidates and the offices they were seeking above their heads.
Apart from Olafemi, Bello, and Odahu, seven members of the state House of Assembly, Daudu Attah, Ambassador Isaac Onu, 20 former local government chairmen, and Echocho Youths Vanguard stood up to be counted as part of the defectors.
Supporters of presidential aspirants such as a former Head of State, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.); a former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, and the Governor of Kano State, Alhaji Rabiu Kwankwaso, also used the occasion to sing the praises of their aspirants as the three presidential political heavyweights, who were present, watched with contentment.
The national chairman of the party however cautioned members of the party against complacency. He noted that he would have had more cause to celebrate if party members in Niger State had defended their votes during the recently concluded bye-election to fill a vacant senatorial seat.
He said it was apparent that his party was on the verge of winning the bye-election, expressing regret that instead of the members of the APC to protect their votes, they went home dancing, an action he said gave the PDP the opportunity to manipulate the results.
Odigie-Oyegun, how-ever, told the cheering crowd that things have come to change for better in the Confluence State.
He reminded the crowd about some scandals trailing the ruling PDP-led Federal Government. He said, “Have we forgotten the N20bn? Have we forgotten the N225m armored cars? Can we forget the $9.3m? Can we forget Boko Haram? And, look at it here in Kogi State; look at the very stadium we are standing on, the government cannot fix its roof. Is this what we want?”
The party chairman also said the end has come for the ruling party’s hold at the federal level and in some states, especially Kogi. He said the defection of the former acting governor, the former speaker, members of the state house of assembly, youth leaders, former local government chairmen and others were all indications that the PDP needed help, which he said would not come.
In his short address at the occasion, Buhari urged Nigerians not to vote for those he described as treasury looters during the 2015 general elections.
Buhari said, “Stealing must be stopped in 2015 and we will make sure that nobody takes money from the treasury and puts it in his pocket because it is the people’s money. The money is not meant for stealing but for development. So, you should be up and doing so that we can change the system from councillor to the president.”
Atiku said the APC would wrest power from Governor Idris Wada and President Goodluck Jonathan. He said both leaders “have failed the state and the nation.”
A former governor of the state, Alhaji Abubakar Audu, assured the defectors that their future was bright in the APC. He appealed to them to join hands with others to wrest power from the PDP in the state.
Others who attended the event include the APC Deputy National Chairman, Senator Lawal Shuaibu; the party’s National Vice Chairman, South-West, Mr. Segun Oni; a former Minister of State for Petroleum, Shuaib Abdullahi, APC National Treasurer, Bala Muhammed and the party’s National Organising Secretary, Senator Osita Osinazo, among others. They all joined Odigie-Oyegun in presenting the APC flag to the defectors.
By Edos News