Roundup: Key officials leave Nigeria's ruling party ahead of elections

Source: Xinhua| 2018-08-02 00:04:17|Editor: yan
Video PlayerClose

by Olatunji Saliu

ABUJA, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- More key officials on Wednesday dumped Nigeria's governing All Progressive Congress (APC) party to pledge support for the country's main opposition party ahead of next year's crucial general elections.

Spokesman of the APC Bolaji Abdullahi and Governor Aminu Tambuwal of the northwestern state of Sokoto renounced their membership of the ruling party on Wednesday, the latest in the gale of defection that has hit the President Muhammadu Buhari-led party since last month.

Abdullahi, who was in June elected as the APC's spokesman, said his decision to leave the party was due to "flagrant usurpation of my role as the spokesman of the party in a manner that I consider unbefitting of a ruling party and inconsistent with my ethical standards."

"Clearly, I cannot continue to function as the spokesman of a party whose expectations of that role is incompatible with my personal principles," said the former spokesman who joined the governing party in 2014.

On his own part, Tambuwal has not yet given a clear reason for his renouncement of the party which he joined as the Speaker of the Nigerian parliament, also in 2014, few months ahead of the general election of 2015.

"I have consulted widely especially with the Sokoto people and they have confidently assured me of my next political move," Tambuwal said in a terse statement which announced his defection to the main opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP).

In 2015, the governing party wrested power from PDP which had earlier headed the central government and governed most of the states in Nigeria for 16 years since 1999.

It is not uncommon to see politicians hopping from party to party during election seasons in Nigeria. In a similar fashion on Tuesday, Senate President Bukola Saraki announced he has dumped the governing party for the main opposition party.

Saraki, the third-ranked political leader of the west African country after President Buhari and vice president Yemi Osinbajo, announced his decision via Twitter.

"I wish to inform Nigerians that, after extensive consultations, I have decided to take my leave of the All Progressives Congress," Saraki wrote on his verified Twitter handle.

The Senate leader said he was "forced out by forces within the party."

"While I take full responsibility for this decision, I will like to emphasize that it is a decision that has been inescapably imposed on me by certain elements and forces within the APC who have ensured that the minimum conditions for peace, cooperation, inclusion and a general sense of belonging did not exist," he said.

Some of his loyalists and political associates had earlier left the governing party, a majority of them joining the PDP.

Also on Tuesday, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State, Saraki's home state, announced his defection to the PDP. One other governor, Sam Ortom of the north-central state of Benue, also dumped the APC for PDP last week.

Ahmed is a well-known political associate of Saraki who dumped the PDP for the APC in 2014 ahead of the 2015 general elections.

Saraki was elected as Nigeria's Senate president in June 2015.

Last week, more than a dozen Nigerian senators and over two dozens of congressmen, some of them loyal to Saraki, dumped the governing APC for the main opposition party.

In addition to that, most of the lawmakers in Benue, Kwara and Sokoto states have also announced their defection to the PDP in a show of support to their political principals.

Reacting to their defection, Nigerian President Buhari said he was not bothered about the politicians, allaying fears that the gale of defection will do any harm to his political party.

Buhari has announced his interest to run for a second term of office in the presidential election next year.

Bassey Okon, a local political analyst, noted none of the defectors has so far accused Buhari of any wrongdoing, although their defection might dampen the governing party's opportunities in the coming general elections.

"Still, I think it is too early to decide where the pendulum will swing during next year's election," Okon said.

Nigeria's crucial general election will be held next February.