The Presidency yesterday said that it has met and discussed with a large number of senators and members of the House of Representatives who dumped the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and other opposition political parties, noting that they had resolved to work for the actualization of President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2019 re-election bid.
Addressing journalists yesterday in Abuja, Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Solomon Ita Enang, said the defected legislators, comprising 14 Senators and 37 House of Representatives members, had assured the Presidency of their readiness to campaign for the re-election of President Buhari in 2019.
Enang, however, did not rule out the possibility of some of the defectors returning to APC.
“They have not fully defected as they only signified their intention to move to another party, so that gives room for conciliation and reconciliation.”
Remarks by the Presidential aide came on the heels of President Buhari wishing all the lawmakers, who defected from the APC, the best in their future endeavours.
Why they defected
Speaking further yesterday, Senator Enang said: “On the heels of the adjournment of the National Assembly, senators and members of the House of Representatives announced their defection from one party to others.
“We appreciate that the entire intending defectors or aggrieved members of the APC have not defected but expressed grievances.
“But in all the grievances expressed, none is attributed or directed at President Muhammadu Buhari, nor his actions or any action or omission of the President or the Federal Government.
“In fact, in my interaction pre and post-expression of intent to defect, all the dramatis personae, the distinguished senators and honourable members expressed their solidarity and support for Mr. President and stated categorically that their grievances and consequent actions are not directed against President Buhari nor his re-election bid, but domestic actors in their constituency, such as governors, state party leaders or frustration over zoning or, indeed, calculations for a return ticket or platform for 2019 elections.
“Indeed, a great number of them have indicated that even if they pursue their bid on a different political platform, they will still campaign for President Buhari for 2019 on the APC platform.
“But have there been defection or mere expression of intent? APC is today one united, strong party.
“What has been done by the distinguished senators and honourable members are group notice to switch camp, it is inchoate and leaves windows, doors and rooms for further consultation for resolution because our party cares for all members in or out of office. And like the Holy Bible enjoins, if you lose one sheep out of 100, preserve 99 and go and search for the one lost.
“The Executive will keep treating the legislators with respect due their persons and offices and keep working with them as legislators who make laws for the Executive to execute, irrespective of their individual political decisions, while leaving all options open for conciliation.”
Clash of interest
Enang, who emphasised that the defection was a result of clash of interest between the legislators and their state governors over the 2019 general elections, said further: “The contentious issue in some states like Kaduna, Oyo, Kano, Benue and Kogi is the control of the party machinery which informed why some senators in these states defected to another party because the affected lawmakers believe the state governors are not likely to support their political ambitions in 2019.”
According to him, the Executive will, during the legislative recess, approach the National Assembly over pending and urgent legislative matters.
He noted that as the legislature proceeds on the conventional annual vacation, the Executive would be consulting with the lawmakers over matters pending before them for consideration, including 2018 Virement proposals, approval of borrowings to fund the 2018 Appropriation, approval of the pending 2018 budget of 64 government-owned corporations laid by the President along with the 2018 budget.
He also made reference to the President’s request for approval of appointments which pendency had affected the fulfilment of the purposes meant.
“The Senate also has before it nominations from President Buhari for federal agencies and parastatals. Take for example, the Federal Civil Service Commission, FCSC, we will need the Senate to look into the Board list and confirm the nominees during this recess so that the commission can recruit suitable candidates into the federal civil service.
“We pray the Legislature will find the normal ingenious patriotic means and time to attend to these within the period of the vacation in the interest of the nation which the Legislature is passionate about,” Ita Enang said.
It’s all lies — Senator Ibrahim, Reps
Reacting to the Presidency’s claim, Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, Kwara South, described as blatant lies issues raised by the Presidency that it had met and discussed with them and that they had resolved to work for the actualization of President Buhari’s 2019 presidential bid.
Speaking, Senator Ibrahim, one of the 14 senators who dumped APC, said he would only support and work for President Buhari in 2019, if he became the presidential candidate of the PDP.
He said: “That’s a blatant lie from him (Ita Enang). I am not going to work for his re-election unless he is nominated by PDP. They are just looking for ways to impress the President. First, they claim phony majority in the Senate, now defected senators will work for President Buhari.”
Reacting in the same vein, a member of the House of Representatives, Ali Madaki, PDP Kano, said Ita Enang was lying, noting “we can’t work for Buhari.”
Madaki simply said: “How can we work for President Buhari when we are flag bearers of the PDP? The man is on his own. We can never support Buhari, Enang is on his own and that is our position.”
Madaki, who is one of the arrowheads of the defectors, further declared that there was no going back, stressing that “nobody among us agreed to such a deal.”
Also reacting, another member of the House, Mark Gbillah, PDP Benue, said Buhari won’t get a single vote “in our constituencies.”
He said: “Buhari will not get a single vote in all our constituencies and that is our common position. Enang spoke for himself because how can we be in PDP and work for Buhari, it is impossible and Nigerians should be wary of people who have spoken so vociferously about Buhari’s constitutional breaches, yet suddenly backed-stabbed us.
“Nigerians should know that there must have been cash inducement to influence such characters in a government that claims to be fighting corruption.”