By Ehichioya Ezomon
Different strokes for different folks. That’s the situation in the past week at the ruling All progressives Congress (APC) and opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in regard to former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara.
Dogara recently switched camp from the PDP to APC, the second in the opposite directions in two years. Ahead of the 2015 polls, he had defected to the APC. But in January 2019, barely two months to the general election, he returned to the PDP.
As the last “big fish” in the exodus from the APC, Dogara delivered on his promise to ensure defeat of Governor Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi State, and victory for former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Senator Bala Muhammed.
However, Dogara’s return to APC has left a trail of controversy: Shock in the Bauchi PDP, and anger in the governor’s camp and in PDP’s Board of Trustees, culminating in calls for his Bogoro/Tafawa Balewa/Dass federal constituency seat to be declared vacant.
In his resignation letter to the Bogoro ‘C’ Ward chairman of the PDP, Dogara posed six questions to the governor, and said remaining in the PDP would make him liable to a charge of disloyalty.
The questions were: * What happened to LGA allocations since May 2019? * Campaign promise to conduct LGA elections within six months of the PDP government * N4.6 billion loan from a bank, paid into an private company’s account * Segmenting of salaries, and payment of workers outsourced to consultants * Inflation of contracts, and payments of mobilisation in violation of the rules * Treatment of Traditional Rulers and Elders with odium, contrary to the guarantee given during the PDP campaign.
“Mr. Chairman, you will agree with me that I cannot raise these issues and many more questions without a charge of disloyalty levelled against me if I were to remain a member of the PDP,” Dogara said in his letter, which caused bedlam in the party.
Raising an eyebrow, the Bauchi PDP, through its Public Relations Officer (PRO), Alhaji Yayanuwa Zainabari, expressed surprise “because of what the party had done for the former Speaker.”
Besides denying other aspirants, and giving automatic ticket to Dogara to contest for the Bogoro/Tafawa Balewa/Dass seat, Zainabari recalled that the PDP voted for Dogara three times to represent his constituency in the National Assembly.
Debunking Dogara’s claim of not being “carried along” in Governor Muhammed administration, Zainabari labelled Dogara as a serial “defector” with the “habit of changing from one party to another.”
He added: “His exit really surprised us. The government carried him along. The governor really honoured him and gave his people opportunities to be part of the government. The party has not wronged him, but we want to know if the party wronged him.”
Governor Mohammed has denied Dogara’s six-point allegation, calling him a “pretender and fabricator of lies” against the governor that helped him to “reconnect and recapture his mandate” after he’s expelled from the APC by former Governor Abubakar.
Addressing members of Digara’s constituency on a solidarity visit to him, Mohammed regretted Dogara’s action “because he is a young man that we so much love and appreciate, including me.”
“Even now, I don’t harbour any malice against him. But he came to show his true colours as a pretender, as a fabricator of lies against my person, who has helped him to reconnect and recapture his mandate as a member of the House of Reps,” Mohammed added.
The chairman of the PDP’s Board of Trustees, Senator Walid Jibrin, linked Dogara’s defection to his reported presidential or vice presidential ambition in 2023.
In a statement in Abuja, Jubrin criticised Dogara for shunning the channels of dispute resolutions within the PDP, and dismissed the reasons advanced for his return to the APC “for the second time.”
“One is compelled to say that Mr. Dogara has other strong reasons for leaving the PDP. I am beginning to suspect that Mr. Dogara has a plan of becoming President or Vice President in 2023, which he knows he will never achieve in PDP.”
But Dogara has elicited joy of a “home-coming” in the APC. From President Muhammadu Buhari to party chieftains, he couldn’t have come at a more opportune moment, as the party rejigs its system.
The APC spokesman in Bauchi, Adamu Jallah, summed up the chapter’s reaction: “It is a welcome development to the party and we are happy. We feel happy every day,” he told Daily Post.
“We are not losing at all, but getting more politicians every day. You know politics is like a business. You can leave and you can come back. He (Dogara) left the party and returns. We are happy.”
The Chairman of the APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Committee, Governor Mai Mala Buni, said President Buhari was “happy to welcome the former Speaker back to the APC. He is happy with the development. That is what he’s looking for.”
Buni, who accompanied Dogara to visit Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, told State House reporters that the PDP shouldn’t be surprised because “the former Speaker is a member of the APC, and it is because the reason he left the APC is no more there.”
Certainly, even as he returned to the PDP in 2019, Dogara’s soul appeared to linger in the APC. He looked like a fish out of water in the PDP, and in its caucus at the National Assembly.
On his watch as House Speaker, the Red Chamber, usually the hotheaded of the two floors in previous sessions, became calmer and exhibited “maturity” than the Senate’s Green Chamber.
Recall that during the controversial inauguration of the 8th National Assembly in June 2015, which the APC described as a “palace coup” by its members, the Dogara camp gave majority of APC members the opportunity to vote to elect the presiding officers.
But in the Senate, the Bukola Saraki group, in cahoots with PDP senators, rushed the election without majority of APC senators in the chamber. Thus, elected as Senate President, Saraki rewarded the opposition with the office of Senate Deputy President.
Prior to the 2019 polls, while his dissatisfied colleagues, including Saraki, were hurrying to “leave the sinking ship,” as they derided the APC then, Dogara tarried, sparking speculations he wasn’t joining in the mass movement to the PDP.
To the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, “Dogara never (really) left the APC when he was in the PDP,” tweeting: “Welcome back home, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, my classmate, my brother and friend. You really never left us in spirit.”
So, Dogara returning to the APC shouldn’t be out of place, except that politicians don’t tell the whole truth about their motives of shuttling between political parties.
It’s, perhaps, the reason the chair of the PDP BOT, Senator Jubrin, poo-poohed Dogara’s rationale as a cover for his actual intention of scheming for the president or vice-president in 2023.
A senior lawyer and national coordinator, Concerned Advocates for Good Governance (CAGG), Mr Olusegun Bamgbose, labelling Dogara as an “unprincipled and fair-weather politician,” claimed that his return to APC was facilitated by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Bamgbose said strategising for 2023 has begun, with Tinubu trying to secure a northerner, and a Christian as vice, “someone generally acceptable to the North, whose political pedigree is intimidating, and Dogara will be the candidate to look out for.”
There we go! Politicians, who wake and sleep with conjectures, and can read “closed minds,” decoding Dogara’s “actual” reason for quitting the PDP to the APC: scheming for 2023 presidency.
Mr. Ezomon, Journalist and Media Consultant, writes from Lagos, Nigeria.