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2019: Tinubu strike Saraki, Tambuwal over defection

National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, yesterday opened up on the gale of defections that hit the ruling party recently, attributing it to inordinate ambition, selfish interests and the lure of automatic tickets being dangled before the defectors by the opposition.

Tinubu, a former Governor of Lagos State, disclosed that two of the leading defectors namely, the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki and Governor of Sokoto State, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, among others, left the APC because the party could not offer them automatic tickets and national wealth. In a lengthy statement he personally signed, entitled “They go away because we go the right way,” Tinubu alleged that these high profile defectors joined the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), because the APC could neither guarantee them the automatic tickets nor the opportunity of sharing the common wealth of the people as well as other privileges. According to Tinubu, the defections were not borne out of any altruistic concern for good governance and advancement of democracy in the polity, but solely designed to achieve selfish political motives.

Tinubu said that those who defected detested the APC drive toward greater internal democracy and were uncomfortable when the ruling party resolved that congresses and conventions be held as a prelude to select those who will represent the party at various levels. His words: “These men left the party to return to a motley agglomeration that would promise them what true democracy could not: automatic tickets, sharing of the national wealth and other offices and privileges. “Their defection statements swell with highsounding words and the attempted grasp of lofty ideals.

While I shall refrain from being so coarse as to call these statements counterfeit, I must invoke a sufficient level of common sense for the protection of all. Anyone who accepts their statements at face value will quickly experience buyer’s remorse. Their attempt at fine notions aside, what compelled these people was galloping, yet blind, ambition. “Governor Tambuwal’s exit can be distilled to one cause. He covets the presidency. However, he had not the stomach to challenge President Buhari in a primary.

Tambuwal felt further insulted that he would be compelled to face a direct primary just to retain the governorship nomination. But for the promise made by PDP headliners like Rivers State Governor (Nyesom) Wike that he would have the PDP presidential nomination, Tambuwal would not have left. His exit had nothing to do with governance of the nation. It was about forging a personal ambition predicated on the defeat of progressive reform, not the advancement of it. “Much the same for Senate President Saraki. Returning to the PDP, he harbours dreams of the presidency, but Tambuwal’s ambition will dwarf Saraki’s when the two collide. If Saraki had remained in the APC, he would be unable to reclaim his Senate seat, let alone the Senate Presidency.

He thus bolted because he lusts for the presidency, but was promised by the PDP, at least, a return to his position in the Senate.” Tinubu also decried Saraki’s position about governance. According to him, “For Saraki to talk about lack of governance is for him to deny who he is and the position he holds.

This man stands as Nigeria’s Number 3 citizen. Clothed is he in ample power and influence. If he saw areas where government and the nation needed help, he could have easily applied his energies to these areas. He could have drafted legislation and easily got laws passed. However, no progressive enactment bears his name for he cared not for progress. He has been more focused on changing the rules of the Senate to favour himself and changing the order of elections so as to coincide with his selfish designs. “The rest of the defectors were given similar assurances by the PDP as to their offices.

The APC refused to make such bargains as they are part of the ancient regime; these bargains are not of our democratic new way,” he said. The APC National Leader argued that while there was nothing wrong with people having ambition and seeking means to achieve them, “ambition, restrained by nothing but itself, is a dangerous commodity,” as it negates social conscience, and could lead to ruthlessness. He urged Nigerians to look beyond the reasons adduced by the defectors and the current debate about which of the political parties controls majority seats at the National Assembly. Unknown to many, Tinubu said, the recent defections were indications that Nigeria was undergoing some form of political transition.

Tinubu, who acknowledged that the defections have generated sensational headlines and triggered some doomsday prophecies on the future of the APC, said such negative predictions will not come true because they were borne more of bitterness than of objective analysis.

He said: “Much of the attention has centred on which party now controls this or that state and which party maintains a majority in the National Assembly. These considerations are important to members of the political class and the electoral calculations of the political parties. But these calculations cannot be all there is. We must be careful not to reduce our horizon to a mere accounting of elected officials moving from one party to another. “…Yet, there are greater things at stake than the fortunes of individual politicians. The people of Nigeria focus their attention on something materially different than this narrow political game. “This is more than competition over numbers. What rests in the balance is not whether one party has more elected officials on its roster, but which party has the right mindset and policies to reform Nigeria that she may become what goodness demands of her. We are in locked battle to define the future of this nation and the quality of its governance. This battle pits one party, the APC, with all of its imperfections, that seeks national reforms against another party, the PDP, which symbolizes the perfection of the most selfish designs of the most selfish politicians among us. “This moral battle informed the recent defections.

Those who belong to that PDP mode of thought could find no permanent comfort in walking the path of progressive reform and progress. All the things we have inaugurated, such as school-feeding programmes for poor pupils, social security for poor families, affordable housing programmes, greater access to credit for small businesses and greater access to education and health care, these things the defectors could not well abide. “They detested President Buhari’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) innovation because it barred them from misdirecting funds into a maze of unaudited accounts from which they could siphon as they pleased. Buhari cut off their clandestine illicit spigot. “These politicians see accountable good governance and lifting of the common person as the tearing down of their quest for great riches and power. “In the final analysis, the reason for the defections is as clear to see as it is crooked in its motives.

The APC seeks to reform governance and politics. However, many powerful people believe the established system assures their maximum benefit. Progressive reform would defeat them. They must fight reform and never be allied to it. Thus, they had to leave the APC.” The former governor stated that the exit of Saraki, Tambuwal and other defectors from the APC would be better for the party. “In a fundamental way, the APC may be better for their exit. It would be untrue to say their departures did not generate concern. As the air clears and we can better assess what is lost and gained by their exit, I can truthfully say the APC will be better off because they are gone. “We can now focus more wholly on democratic governance inside and outside the party. Inside the party, we have adopted direct primaries to discourage corruption of the democratic process. Regarding public policy, we can now better articulate our progressive stance without having naysayers among us complaining that we are going too far or that the good we seek for the people ought not to be done. “This struggle toward a better Nigeria is hard, described more by difficult obstacles than by smooth passages. Had reform been easy, the task would have already been accomplished. Powerful hands have gathered to halt our collective move forward. Not everyone wants a better Nigeria for all.

Those who profit from the imbalances of the past are those who fear a fairer tomorrow,” he said. In the forthcoming general election, Tinubu said, the people will face a stark choice of either going back to the certain failure and inequality of the old system or give themselves a better chance at building a new Nigeria.

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