Mixed reactions yesterday trailed the defection of Senate President Bukola Saraki from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). While many chieftains acknowledged that the ruling party has lost a big fish to the opposition, others said his exit will not affect the chances of the APC in next year’s presidential election.
The defection was not beyond expectation. Thus, the Kwara State chapter was not caught unawares. Anticipating Saraki’s game plan, President Muhammadu Buhar’s loyalists have put up an alternative leadership structure to fill the void expected to be created by the mass defection. In fact, some top leaders even objected to the aspiration of his loyalist, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, to continue as the party’s national publicity secretary during the national convention, based on the feeling that Saraki’s supporters were biding their time in the APC.
In a twinkle of an eye, Kwara instantly became a PDP state yesterday. Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, two senators representing the state, commissioners and special advisers, members of the Houses of Assembly and Representatives and other prominent members of the Saraki Dynasty heeded the defection call at the blow of the whistle by the Senate President. In next year’s poll, Saraki will still wax strong as the kingmaker in the Northcentral state. The President will have to work harder to make an in-road into the new PDP stronghold.
Saraki’s defection may motivate more aggrieved chieftains to strategically follow suit. PDP is the beneficiary platform. Will co-travelers, including House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara, follow his footsteps? Will Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal also call it quits with the party? Will Saraki’s sibling, Senator Gbemisola, also defect?
While in APC, Saraki’s political territory, which he inherited from his illustrious father, the late Dr. Olusola Saraki, was not threatened by external forces. He called the shots. According to observers, there is no additional personal gain that will accrue to the Kwara kingpin in the PDP more than what has accrued to his group in the APC. Having returned to his natural habitat, the Senate President will seek to play a dominant role in reshaping and repositioning the PDP at the state and federal levels as he joins the coordinators of the 2019 battle at the federal level.