- As SAS defects to PDP
From Osaigbovo Iguobaro, Benin
National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie Oyegun, has warned the Goodluck Jonathan led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against exploiting religion to inflame passions that could split the country.
This is coming on the same day that former Governor of Borno state and member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the mega opposition APC, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff (a.k.a SAS) has dumped the party for the ruling PDP.
Oyegun said while his party differed with President Jonathan on his administration’s policies, such opposing view was not enough reason for the ruling party to pejoratively link some members and supporters of the APC with Boko Haram, given the obvious implications of such on national cohesion.
The APC chairman gave the warning yesterday when he led other members of the national leadership of his party to Benin City, the Edo state capital, to pledge their solidarity with the state governor, Adams Oshiomhole.
“We agreed that since lives are involved in this Boko Haram onslaught, we will cooperate with the government, even when we don’t not agree with the way they are handling things to make sure that the issues are not politicised”, he emphasised.
According to him, the PDP was beginning to use religion as a dividing tool in the country. “We today are being tagged in pejorative ways as the supporters of Boko Haram, and the implications on national cohesion are too obvious”, he said.
He reiterated the APC leadership’s pledge to cooperate with the federal government to end the mindless insurgency, but further warned that it must not be not “politicised”.
He warned of the grave consequences of the unabated crises between the PDP and the APC lawmakers in Edo state House of Assembly, stating that the level of impunity in Adamawa and Edo states have reached the peak that should attract severe “consequences”.
“We are prepared for the fire that has been lit in Adamawa….Enough is enough. Nationally, we are going to start calling the bluffs….We cannot fold our arms and let them go away with it….The party is four square behind you”, he assured.
In his remarks, Governor Oshiomhole vowed not to surrender his government to the PDP, which he said, could not develop the state, even after it held on to power for almost a decade.
He told the delegation that he was comfortable with 15 APC members, whom he said, were powerful enough to form a simple majority in the 24-member House of Assembly.
He advanced reasons for the temporal relocation of legislative business from the Edo House of Assembly complex to the “ancestral home in Government House, Benin City” where their security can be guaranteed.
Giving detailed insight into the crises, the governor alleged that the funds given to the defected lawmakers to quit the APC for the PDP had been wasted, and could not alter the political equation in the state under his watch.
“That rule of law must be upheld even in the midst of this confusion….Their plot was to destabilise Edo state ahead of the next general elections”, he said.
River state governor, Rotimi Amaechi, APC National Secretary, Alhaji Mai Mala Bni, former FCT minister, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, former governor of Kwara state, Senator Bukola Saraki, former Chairman of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Chief Ogbonnaya Onu, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and APC National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed ,were part of the delegation.
Meanwhile, the APC’s BoT member, Sheriff, yesterday formally announced his exit from the party, after weeks of speculation that he was set to do so.
SAS, while addressing a crowd of his supporters at the Maiduguri International Airport yesterday, confirmed his exit from the APC and pledged to work for Jonathan’s re-election in 2015, once the president declares his intention in that regard.
The former governor was accompanied by some of his political associates, including Mohammed Imam, who is said to be interested in running for governorship of the state in 2015; Hon. AbdulRahman Terab; Hon. Lawan Isa and Hon. Peter Biye, all members of House of Representatives from the state.
Others were Alhaji Mala Othman and Alhaji Yusuf Adamu, former state chairman and secretary respectively, of the defunct ANPP.
Although SAS did not explain his reason for quitting the APC, it was too obvious after the party’s national convention weeks ago in Abuja, that he lost out in his bid to install Chief Tom Ikimi and the party’s national chairman, as well as Kashim Ibrahim Imam as national secretary of the party.
He was widely reported to have been angered by the outcome of the convention, which many said, would lead to his exit from the party.
Indeed, he had widely been seen as a PDP mole in the APC, and many in the political circles said, the top echelon of the mega opposition party would be gladdened by news of his exit.