The main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), is in trouble. The year, 2021 has not been a good year for it. It is losing its members, especially, high profile members, including state governors.
On Sunday, June 26, the Party lost Zamfara State to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
The governor, who was elected on the platform of the PDP, had earlier dissolved the state’s executive council, in what appears as the plan for his defection.
After a long dilly-dallying and strong speculations, Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle finally dumped the PDP for the APC.
Even though the Governor has not publicly announced it, but it is official. Making the announcement of his defection to the APC, on Sunday, was the Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Digital and New Media, Bashir Ahmad. He welcomed the Governor to the APC in two short sentences on his Facebook.
He wrote: “Zamfara is back home. Welcome Matallawe.”
Indeed Zamfara State was roundly won by the APC during the 2019 Governorship election, but 24 hours to the swearing-in of the Governor, the Supreme Court disqualified him over Party squabbles. The Apex Court, also, disqualified all other APC elected members, from the National Assembly to the State House of Assembly, and ordered that the runners-up in the election be sworn-in as duly elected. That was how Matallawe became Governor. He became an accidental Governor.
It was an excited, and humbled Matallawe who, months after he was sworn into office, asked Allah to punish him if he ever abandons the PDP. “May Allah punish me if I ever abandon PDP”, he swore, to the applause of Party supporters.
But like most politicians, he has quickly forgotten his request from Allah.
The Governor’s journey to dumping the PDP for the APC, began many months ago. Pointing accusing fingers at a South-south PDP Governor, he said he was being suffocated in the party as the South-south Governor wanted to control his state for him. He accused him of being autocratic and vowed to leave the Party if he continued.
Last month when the speculations continued, he said he was still “exploring.”Apparently, the exploration came to an end the day a number of APC Governors, led by its Interim National Chairman, Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Bunu, visited him. He gave them a firm yes, as an answer, a source told this Magazine last week.
The Governor is likely, this Magazine gathered, to publicly announce his new Party on Tuesday. What is not known is if the State’s National and House of Assembly members would join him, as well as members of his Cabinet.
Within one month, the PDP has lost two State Governors to the APC. The first was the Cross River State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade who also cited interference from a South-south Governor.
Earlier before the defection of Ayade, Ebonyi State Governor, Engr Dave Umahi, had, also, dumped the party for the APC.
Aside from the Governors, a number of high profile members of the party had dumped it for the APC.
The latest, on Friday, was Senator Peter Nwaoboshi, the Senator representing Delta North in the Senate.
Prince Kassim Afegbua, an estranged PDP member, and a former Commissioner for Information, Edo State, under former Governor Adams Oshiomhole, in his reaction to the defections, asked for the sack of the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, allegeging that he has killed the party, literally.
A source told this newspaper that PDP plans to go to Court to sack Matallawe using as a peg, the Supreme Court judgement which declared that the APC had no candidate in the 2019 Governorship election.
Meanwhile, Yusuf Idris, Matallawe’s spokesperson, said the governor will join the ruling party with “the national and state assembly members as well as the PDP executives from all levels of the state”.
“All is now set for our governor to move from the PDP to the APC,” Idris said on Sunday.
“All the committees that are charged with responsibility for a smooth transition of the governor have reported from their various committees that things have taken shape for the event which is scheduled to hold at a grand reception in Gusau on Tuesday, June 29.
“Let me emphasise to you that Zamfara politicians have always been a single family and even as a PDP governor, my principal, Gov Bello Matawalle has always related very well with those in the opposition parties.
“Many people from high and low have followed the governor into the PDP in order to offer their positive advices for the growth and development of the state, some of such persons were given top government positions and responsibilities which they held very well too.
“Under this new development of joining the APC, which will be witnessed by 18 APC governors, the governor will come along with all the national and state assembly members as well as the PDP executives from all levels of the state.”
He added that his principal will be received by Mai Mala Buni, governor of Yobe, who doubles as the APC caretaker committee chairman.