Governor Nasir El-Rufai has described senators who defected from the All Progressive Congress (APC) as corrupt politicians who are afraid of being arrested if President Buhari wins his second term bid.
The governor said President Buhari dislikes corruption and will not work with any corrupt politician to cheat Nigeria.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how 14 senators and 37 members of the House of Representatives left the APC. Majority, including a Kaduna senator, Suleiman Hunkuyi, joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Mr El-Rufai described the defecting senators as enemies of President Buhari and Nigerians.
He disclosed this while answering questions during a Hausa media chat aired on radio stations in the state on Thursday.
According to him, Mr Buhari made only three promises to Nigerians during 2015 elections: address insecurity (Boko Haram), improve the economy and fight corruption.
“Why did these people (senators) leave APC? It’s because they love bribe and were afraid of what President Muhammadu Buhari will do to them if he gets re-elected. This is just the truth. What joined them together is that they love bribery and corruption and they are afraid President Buhari will deal with them.
“Nobody will criticise this government for lack of performance because they are trying their best. If the senators were honestly supporting the president, he would have achieved more than what he currently achieved; but instead they are sabotaging his effort,” he said.
According to him, the Senate leadership under Senate President Bukola Saraki is the worst in Nigeria’s history.
“He gave them budget (2018), they sat over it for 7-8 months without passage. The House of Representative members are more honest and trustworthy.
“But those in the Senate have nothing in mind rather than looking for money. Senate leadership under Bukola Saraki is the worst and no good leadership in the Senate.”
Mr El-Rufai’s criticism of Mr Saraki has been replied by a pro-Saraki senator, Rafiu Ibrahim (PDP, Kwara). Mr Ibrahim alleged that Mr El-Rufai is angry at Mr Saraki because of the Senate’s refusal to approve $350 million loan sought by the Kaduna State Government from funders.
Speaking further on the defections, Mr El-Rufai said “it’s not surprising because we have been hearing that many senators will defect.”
“We heard about it even though some of the senators whose names appeared among those that defected denied it.
“We have been assured that our party (APC) still controls majority in the senate. I have confidence in our new party chairman Adams Oshiomhole that he will handle the issue well and any governor in his state will also take measures.
“We were also told that apart from the senators, there are also governors that will defect. We wish them well because we know those who cannot win election in their homes among them. They are only elected into Senate based on Buhari’s factor or popularity.
“Majority of them were elected because their election was conducted same day with President Buhari. If they think they can win alone, we wish them luck.”
The Kaduna governor also spoke on some federal lawmakers who defected from his state.
“In Kaduna, we have 11 APC House of Reps members. Later, (Adams) Jagaba left for PDP and two others too; leaving us with eight.
“We were told that there may be spies among those remaining but all we know is that President Buhari’s heart is clean and whoever plans to cheat him, God will expose him.”
The governor also hinted at possible reconciliation with aggrieved APC members in the state.
One of the Kaduna senators expected to defect, Shehu Sani, declined to. Mr Sani, who has been having a running battle with Mr El-Rufai, said he was prevailed upon by APC leaders including Mr Oshiomhole that his grievances would be reviewed.
The senator representing Kaduna Central in the National Assembly, Shehu Sani
“So, we in Kaduna, whoever says he is with us in this party, we will give him a chance,” Mr El-Rufai said. “Even though our state party chairman has set up committee for reconciliation and we agree to that.
“This is because it’s possible there are party members that worked for the party but were forgotten because we are human being and so it is possible to offend some people.
“We know those who assisted the party and we know those who did not. We know those who collected money from PDP on election day but after we won the election they came out to claim they worked for the party.
“Those we offended, we are ready to take corrections, anybody that worked for the party but we forgot to give him anything we will take measures and corrections.
“But we will not seat or reconcile with enemies of the people those who are against the people and are not ready to work for the masses
“We are not going to sit with selfish individual who only think of themselves because we came into politics to protect the interest of the masses. We can’t share the masses’ wealth with such people because masses elected us not elites.”