President Muhammadu Buhari has explained that the impressive performance of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) at all levels of government was responsible for the defection of Zamfara State Governor, Hon. Bello Matawalle from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling APC.
Matawalle yesterday formally announced his defection to the APC.
However, the deputy governor of the state, Mr. Mahdi Gusau, who refused to defect with Matawalle, has said the PDP could retrieve its mandate from the governor.
The National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, has, however, said that the party is confident of winning the 2023 general election, despite the defection of some of its governors to the APC.
Speaking at a rally yesterday in Gusau, Matawalle said that he had been nursing the ambition of leaving his party, PDP, for several reasons.
“I am now the leader of APC in Zamfara State and I am ready to work with each and everyone wishing to contribute to the rapid development of the state,” he said.
The APC National Caretaker Committee Chairman and Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, congratulated Matawalle for defecting to the party.
Buni said Matawalle is now the leader of APC in Zamfara State.
He also announced that the state APC caretaker committee has been dissolved.
“I also want to bring to your notice that as from today, the APC Caretaker Committees of Zamfara State from the ward to the state level have been dissolved,” Buni said.
Also speaking at the occasion, former governor of the state, Mr. AbdulAziz Yari welcomed Matawalle to APC, adding that, he was ready to give all necessary support and cooperation for him to succeed.
He said: “I want to bring to the notice of each and every one in Zamfara State that I am not in any way against the defection of Governor Matawalle to our great party.
“I was a governor for two terms; as such, I thank the Almighty Allah for giving me the chance to lead my people for eight years.”
Matawalle joined the APC with all members of the state House of Assembly and National Assembly members except a representative from Anka/Talata-Mafara Federal Constituency and the deputy governor, who remains in the PDP.
The rally was attended by governors of Kogi, Niger, Katsina, Kaduna, Kano, Borno, Ogun, Jigawa, Plateau, and Kebbi State; Secretary to the Government of Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha; and Minister of Humanitarian Affairs among others.
The event scheduled for 2 pm, did not start until after 6.30 pm.
In his swift reaction to the defection, the deputy governor told journalists in Abuja that the PDP should retrieve its mandate from the Zamfara State governor.
He argued that the Supreme Court judgment was clear, stressing that the mandate belongs to the opposition party.
“Judgment was divine. The Supreme Court said that the APC has no votes because of the quarrel and crisis in the party and said that the party that came second should assume office as the governor. So, this is divine; if the PDP desires to reclaim its stolen mandate, the party is free. For me, I will not defect and will continue as the deputy governor and do the job for which I am elected”
The deputy governor also stated that nobody will sack him from office as the deputy governor as he has not committed any offence that could warrant his removal.
“I am not involved in contracts and any financial dealings as a deputy governor. I am free and I have not committed any impeachable offence.”
According to him, “This is not the first time that a governor will defect without his deputy. It happened when Wamakko defected to the APC and his deputy, Muktar Shagari, remained a member of the PDP.”
Also, reacting to the defection, the president, in a statement issued yesterday by his spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, congratulated Matawalle on his defection from the PDP to the APC, saying the ruling party “is becoming more popular because of its impressive performance record and commitment to good governance.”
In a message delivered on his behalf at the defection ceremony by the SGF, Mustapha, President Buhari said: “I’m proud of your timely and wise decision to join the governing party and our doors are wide open to other politicians who believe in our vision to rebuild Nigeria.
“Your voluntary decision to join our party confirms the fact that our agenda for good governance is the only reason why Nigerians are getting attracted to the APC because the other alternative didn’t work.”
The President used the forum to urge APC Governors and elected lawmakers across the country to continue to work harder to ensure the party maintains its popularity and retains power beyond 2023.
He reminded all elected party officials of the fact that “your performance at all levels will impact significantly on the fortunes of the party”, adding that “party leaders should avoid complacency at all times in order to build the APC from strength to strength.”
Secondus: PDP will Still Win Presidential Election, Despite Defections.
Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the PDP, Secondus yesterday said that the party is confident of winning 2023 general election, despite the defection of some of its governors to the APC.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja, Secondus also accused the APC governors who gathered in Gusau, Zamfara State to celebrate the defection of Matawalle, of celebrating bloodshed of innocent Nigerians that died in the insurgency in the state.
“They are going after our governors but we are going after the masses of this country. The governors have one vote but we have the people, the masses, the people who are suffering under this government.
“We feel the pains of Nigerians who are suffering, those slaughtered like chicken and killed. We have the majority support of the people and will form the next government at the centre,” he reiterated.
“The masses are solidly behind us, the masses are for the PDP and we stand here to state clearly that we shall form this new government coming in 2023 because of the masses and not because of the governors.”, the national chairman of PDP said.
Secondus acknowledged that the deputy governor, Gusau, and eight members of the Zamfara State House of Assembly did not defect with the governor.
Secondus said clearly that the party will challenge the defection of Matawalle in court as there is no provision of an independent candidates in the electoral laws.
“I have never seen where you have economic crises, insecurity crises, then the ruling party goes, poaching governors and 18 governors as published on Social Media will be moving, leaving their states to Zamfara, to celebrate the killings of innocent citizens in Zamfara State, the hunger in Zamfara State. This is a shame and it is laughable,” Secondus said.