The All Progressives Congress said on Thursday that it was not disturbed by the effective defection of Speaker Yakubu Dogara to the Peoples Democratic Congress, saying the top lawmaker has no political value to be considered a loss.
“We have read your report online that he has picked up PDP nomination form,” APC spokesperson Yakubu Nabena told PREMIUM TIMES by telephone Thursday morning, hours after the newspaper broke the news that the speaker had quietly purchased form to run on the platform of the major opposition party. “It is not a surprise to us, we already know that he has been working with the PDP.”
Our report Wednesday night was based on insider details supplied by both the speaker’s associates and top officials at the PDP national secretariat in Abuja. Several media outlets started running follow-on stories that confirmed the development shortly thereafter.
The news came a day after Mr Dogara assured his constituents at a rally in Abuja that he would run for a fourth House term, but he did not disclose under which party and no political party’ logo was visible on the placards unfurled by his supporters at the gathering.
Mr Dogara did not formally announce his resignation from the APC or defection to the PDP before picking up the form, an arrangement that some political observers told PREMIUM TIMES Thursday morning was rather unusual for a high-profile politician of his status.
“We now have to be patient and see what exactly informed his decision to take such a high-profile move in such a low-profile manner,” said political analyst Shola Olubanjo.
Mr Dogara has long been expected to leave the APC like scores of federal lawmakers who were locked in bitter and prolonged political rivalry with their governors across the country. More than 50 senators and representatives defected to opposition parties at the height of the wave in July, an exercise that proportionately benefited the PDP.
Senate President Bukola Saraki also defected at the time, a decision that seriously angered the APC and exposed him to impeachment and removal threats.
Although both the party and President Muhammadu Buhari dismissed Mr Saraki’s defection as inconsequential — and that it was, in fact, a desirable result of a deliberate strategy aimed at driving out “corrupt elements” within its ranks — the party still threatened to sue the former Kwara State governor for a slew of anti-party offences.
Mr Nabena said the APC would not expend much energy on Mr Dogara because it might not be worth it.
“He is not a loss to us. Even if we give him the ticket he would lose on ground. He is not even on ground in the first place,” Mr Nabena said. “Those kinds of people we call them Abuja politicians.”
“He is not a problem as far as I am concerned. Yakubu Dogara has no electoral value in the APC,” the spokesperson emphasised.
A spokesperson for the speaker, Turaki Hassan, declined PREMIUM TIMES’ requests for a reaction to Mr Nabena’s charges Thursday morning.
Mr Dogara’s exit would be celebrated by supporters of Governor Mohammed Abubakar in Bauchi State, with whom the speaker has been having political confrontation for about two years.
Although Bauchi heavily leans towards the APC, the top lawmaker is expected to easily retain his seat, spurred by unique demography of his Bogoro/Dass/Tafawa Balewa Federal Constituency, which has a high population of Christians in a Muslim-majority state.