We welcome Godswill Akpabio’s defection, says Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Sunday said the ruling All Progressives Congress welcomes the defection of Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, to the party from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.

He also described the recent defection of some governors and lawmakers from the APC as nothing but “a storm in a teacup.”

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that there had been rumour making the rounds about the defection of the Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, from the Peoples Democratic Party to APC.

Akpabio had visited President Muhammadu Buhari in London on Sunday.

Mohammed, however, told newsmen in Lagos that those who left the ruling party did so for personal interests.

“I welcome it (defection of Akpabio) because all politics is local. All those who have left us did that for purely personal reasons.

“Since they say politics is a game of number, of course we welcome gladly the defection of the minority leader. Like they say, it is one-one goalless draw.”

On whether Akpabio was being positioned for the position of the Senate President, Mohammed said “that I don’t know.”

Mohammed said that the recent defection of some governors, state and federal lawmakers to the main opposition party, PDP, was nothing to worry about.

“There have been so much hype about this defection, and to me, it’s nothing but a storm in a teacup. We must appreciate the fact that at the end of the day, all politics is local.

“One should ask, what is the electoral value of these decampees? In other words, today in Sokoto State, what’s the electoral value of those who have decamped,” he asked?

According to him, the foundation for the defection was laid the moment Dr. Bukola Saraki emerged Senate President against the wish of the party, which affected the relationship between the executive and the legislature.

The minister said that since the day Saraki lobbied the opposition party to become the Senate President, the relationship between the executive and legislature had been turbulent.

“In fact, we could not have suffered more as an executive in the hands of the legislature if a PDP person had been the senate president,” he said.

On allegation of lopsided appointment of Kwara people in Buhari’s administration, Mohammad described it as unfounded.

He said that no fewer than 24 indigenes of Kwara State were given federal appointments, of which he (Mohammed) only recommended two, while the Senate President recommended 20.

On those complaining of not being given juicy appointments, the minister said that people complaining were not ready to serve and turn things around but eyeing what to steal.

“It is not true that a particular part of the country is being favoured against the other.

“I challenge anybody to go to the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and take out the list of appointees under this administration.”

“You will be surprised that we have been fair to all,” the minister said.

PDP jittery as APC and Akpabio parley

There were indications that the All Progressives Congress (APC) is in serious talks with the Minority Leader in the Senate, ex-Governor Godswill Akpabio; a move that has unsettled the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)

Akpabio might defect to the APC any moment from now once the “terms” are wrapped up, The Nation learnt yesterday.

The APC is upbeat about the prospect, which analysts believe will be a major political mileage for President Muhammadu Buhari in the South-South.

A PDP top notch said last night that the party has been appealing to the ex-governor not to defect “but we cannot please him and then displease the governor of the state, Deacon Udom Emmanuel, who is the PDP leader in the state.”

There is no love lost between Akpabio and Emmanuel. Emmanuel was practically made governor by Akpabio in 2015.

It was learnt that Akpabio had made up his mind to defect on July 24 but was not recognised the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who got wind of his move, to make his intention public.

Notwithstanding, Akpabio showed signs of his departure from the PDP on Thursday when he boycotted the special meeting of the National Executive Committee of the PDP held to welcome defectors including Saraki and governors Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (Sokoto) and Samuel Ortom of Benue state, among others.

A top APC source, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said: “The APC and some of our leaders are in serious talks with Akpabio, who is rated as a matchmaker in the South-South.

“The talks border on more deals for the South-South, especially increase in derivation formula; enhanced infrastructure for oil producing areas; how to sustain the ongoing reforms by President Muhammadu Buhari; and arresting the developmental slide in Akwa Ibom State.

“The former governor said his likely defection to APC is informed more by patriotism than selfish interest.”

Responding to a question, the source added: “The terms are still being worked out, but APC is favourably disposed to Akpabio’s defection.

“The ex-governor has an open mind, he has no airs and he does not pretend in asking for a better nation which he thinks Buhari can offer.

“In fact, it was part of the talks that made him visit Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday when the PDP national EXCO was meeting in Abuja.

“We will no doubt accept him into APC. This is a major development from the South-South.”

Findings, however, confirmed that top PDP leaders, including the National Working Committee of the opposition party, has been jittery in the past few weeks.

A member of the National Executive Committee of PDP said: “I think Akpabio has irreconcilable differences with Governor Udom Emmanuel and our leaders stepped into the matter and initiated reconciliation.

“If at the end he is defecting, we are suspecting that he wants to join the APC to settle scores with Emmanuel in 2019. The two leaders have been managing themselves, but Akpabio seems unhappy with the governor.

“We felt that defection is not an ideal option for Akpabio. Maybe he has another agenda.”

A member of the NWC said: “By the policy of our party, Governor Emmanuel cannot be denied the right of first refusal for the PDP gubernatorial ticket in 2019. We cannot abandon him to please Akpabio.

“You can see that as soon as Governor Samuel Ortom defected, he was automatically made the leader of PDP in Benue State.

“The power equation in PDP at present in Akwa Ibom State does not favour Akpabio. He is bound to be embittered.

“Some of our leaders have been comparing notes and there is this suspicion that Akpabio might defect because of multiple cases he has with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

“The sad aspect is that the Senate Minority Leader does not share his position with anyone.

My motion on the continued voters registration exercise; matters arising. Senate urges INEC to undertake registration on continuing basis The Senate has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to undertake the continued voters registration exercise on a continuing and permanent basis in the respective polling unit until all prospective registrants are registered. This is sequel to a motion brought before the Senate by the Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio on Wednesday. The Senate also urged INEC to decentralize the registration exercise on ward basis and to further decentralize when the ward are large. According to Senator Akpabio the exercise has been faced with several challenges across the country which included malfunctioning of the direct data capture machines, non-availability of the machines in some Local Government Areas, slowness of the direct data capture machines, inadequate man power and inaccessibility of registration centres from prospective registrants, especially those residing in the rural areas. According to the Senator, the challenges were worse in states like Akwa Ibom, Anambra and Osun where only 30 voters were said to have been registered per day in each Local Government with over 20 wards. The upper legislative chambers mandated its committee on INEC to monitor the exercise and report progress and challenges periodically.

A post shared by Senator Godswill Akpabio (@godswill_akpabio) on

“At one of our meetings during the week, we all noticed that Akpabio was not vibrant and articulate in his speech. He spoke like a despondent leader who is fed up with PDP.

“Our fears were confirmed when he boycotted the NEC meeting on Thursday. He said he was travelling abroad, only for us to see him at the Villa with VP Osinbajo.

“Earlier, we learnt that he had wanted to defect to APC on the floor of the Senate on July 24, but the President of the Senate, Dr. Saraki, who got intelligence report, did not allow him to have his way. “

Today in plenary.

A post shared by Senator Godswill Akpabio (@godswill_akpabio) on

Saraki also did not read the letters of defection of some PDP Senators to APC before he adjourned the sitting to September; a development APC senators saw as a clear abuse of his position as Senate President.