Shocker: Akpabio meets Buhari in London ahead of defection to APC


.We welcome him –Lai Mohammed

. Saraki, Tambuwal, others defections won’t affect President’s re-election

Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio met vacationing President Muhammadu Buhari in London on Sunday, four days before he crosses over to the All Progressives Congress.Issues discussed were not disclosed.

Akpabio had met Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja on Thursday and also national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in Lagos.Akpabio’s decision to leave the PDP has dampened PDP celebration over the defection of a dozen senators, three governors and some 30 members of the House of Representatives, who hitherto were members of the All Progressives Congress.

He is scheduled to switch to the APC in Ikot Ekpene on August 9, 2019.Akpabio was governor of oil-rich Akwa Ibom State from 2007-2015. He was elected a Senator in 2015 and was chosen as the minority leader for the Peoples Democratic Party senators.

APC Newspaper on its Twitter handle announced Saturday night the news that Akpabio was switching allegiance : “We can confirm that, HE, Sen (Dr) Godswill Akpabio is a card carrying member of @OfficialAPCNg effective August 4, 2018. @OfficialPDPNig has lost him. Official Reception in days”.

And APC United Kingdom in another tweet set the date for the defection: “Acting President, @ProfOsinbajo accompanied by Senator (Dr ) Ita Enang, and leaders of the APC in Akwa Ibom to formally receive Senator (Dr.) Godswill Akpabio into APC at Ikot Ekpene Stadium on Thursday 9 August, 2018. All lovers of Democracy are cordially invited”.

Senator Ita Enang, Buhari’s liaison officer with the National Assembly confirmed the unfolding political drama, tweeting: I’m confirming that the @APCNigeria family as earlier indicated will formally receive H.E,@godswill_akpabio on WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 8,2018 at an elaborate ceremony in Akwa-Ibom State. Senator (Dr) ITA ENANG.Presidential Liaison to the National Assembly- Senate.

In its reaction, the ruling APC) expressed pleasure with the decision of Sen. Akpabio, the Senate Min to join its fold.The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said on Sunday: “I welcome it (defection of Akpabio) because all politics is local. All those who have left us did that for purely personal reasons.’’

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that there have been rumours making the round about the defection of the Senate Minority Leader from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to APC.

Mohammed told newsmen in Lagos that those who left the ruling party did so for personal interests.“I welcome it (defection of Akpabio) because all politics is local. All those who have left us did that for purely personal reasons.“Since they say politics is a game of number, of course we welcome gladly the defection of the Minority leader like they say it is one-one goalless draw.On whether Akpabio was being positioned for the position of the Senate President Mohammed said,” That I don’t know”.

Mohammed said that the recently defection of some governors, state and federal lawmakers to the main opposition party, PDP, was nothing to worry about.“There have been so much hype about this defection, and to me it’s nothing but a storm in a tea cup. We must appreciate the fact that at the end of the day, all politics is local.“One should ask, what is the electoral value of these decampees? In order words, today in Sokoto State, what’s the electoral value of those who have decamped?

According to him, the foundation for the defection was laid the moment Dr Bukola Saraki emerged Senate President against the wish of the party which affected the relationship between the executive and legislative arms.

He said that since the day Saraki lobbied the opposition party to become the Senate President, the relationship between the executive and legislature had been turbulent.“In fact, we could not have suffered more as an executive in the hands of the legislature if a PDP person had been the senate president,” he said.

On allegation of sideline and lopsided appointment Kwarans in Buhari’s administration, Mohammad described it as unfounded.He said that no fewer than 24 indigenes of Kwara were given federal appointments of which he (Mohammed) only recommended two while the Senate President recommended 20.On those complaining of not being given juicy appointment, the minister said that people complaining were not ready to serve and turn things around but eyeing what to steal.

“It is not true that a particular part of the country is being favoured against the other. I challenge anybody to go to the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and take out the list of appointees under this administration; you will be surprise that we have been fair to all”, he said .

In a related development, the Acting National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Yekini Nabena, has disclosed that the defection of the Senate President Bukola Saraki. Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal and others would not affect the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.

Nabena added that the defecting politicians lacked the political sagacity to affect the goodwill of the President in terms grassroots support of the electorate.The new APC spokesman stated this during an interview with select journalists in Abuja at the weekend.

According to Nabena, most of those defecting to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are paperweight politicians and lack electoral values.He added that the re-election of Buhari is a done deal on the grounds that the massive votes from the North-West and the South-West, which are intact for the President remain the game changer during the 2019 presidential election.

He said, “I can tell you authoritatively that the defections will not affect the President’s re-election. It is a public knowledge that Saraki’s popularity is limited to Kwara. He does not have any power to determine what happen in Kogi or other North Central states where the President still enjoys substantial support.

“Please note that Saraki’s popularity is limited to Kwara alone. He has contend with latest agitation with certain people who are now questioning what he he has done for the state in the last 15 years. You will recall that when the deadliest Offa robbery took place, there was no single Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) in the state to confront the robbers. That shows lack of development in the state.

“When you talk of Tambuwal, you all know that he is not in control of Sokoto State. His godfather, Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, whose structure he used to become Governor, is still with us. You have seen what happened when Wammako visited Sokoto on Saturday.

“For emphasis, in Sokoto, the Deputy Governor, we have 2 senators, 9 members of the House of Representatives, 12 out of the 30 State House of Assembly members and the massive supporters in the state.

“ For Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom, you know that the man is facing crisis of acceptance. He has to contend with those who have been working to ensure that PDP is still a strong party in the state. I’m taking of former Governor Gabriel Suswam. He will also prove that Senator George Akume is not a household name in Benue. Time will tell who controls Benue in due course.

Regarding other defecting lawmakers, most of them must get the tickets to run first while it is certain most of them will not win their re-elections as other dynamic candidates are eager to replace them for positive development of the country”

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