No fewer than 26 loyalists of Amosun on Monday announced their defection from the APC to the APM.
The defectors were the aggrieved members of the APC who claimed to have won the legislative primaries of the APC conducted by the state election committee appointed by the National Working Committee.
Addressing journalists on behalf of other members, their spokesperson, Lamidi Olatunji, said they were declared winners by the committee chairman, Col. Ali Ciroma,(retd.), but were denied the Independent National Electoral Commission’s forms for nomination as the APC candidates by the party’s national leadership till it closed on December 2.
Okatunji in his speech titled, “Why we are leaving the APC for APM,” said, “After extensive and due consultations with our elders, members and stakeholders in the APC in Ogun State, we have come to the inevitable conclusion to seek the mandate of our people in the 2019 elections on the platform of the Allied People’s Movement.
“We wish to state that this is without prejudice to the progressive ideals which have endeared our candidature and our political group to the good people of Ogun State.”
He, however, said, “We regret that Mr President’s efforts were frustrated by the forces that are hell bent on taking the South-West back to the dark age of slavery where unelected kingpins direct the affairs of the people.
“We are committed to the second term of President Muhammadu Buhari and we are determined to deliver Ogun State to him in the presidential election come February 16, 2019 by the grace of God.
“We are going to work tirelessly for the election of Hon. Adekunle Akinlade who was overwhelmingly elected as the governorship candidate of the APC but denied the ticket by the same forces that hijacked our tickets.”
Speaking on the roles of Amosun in their defection, the group’s spokesperson exonerated the governor, saying they were old enough to take decisions without the input of their boss.
He said, “Governor Amosun is still in the APC while we have moved to the APM. Governor Amosun has nothing to do with our decision to defect to APM.”
But the national leadership of the APC said though it was pained to lose any of its members, three people would join the party in place of one defector.
The party said the gale of defections rocking it should not also be interpreted that reconciliation had failed among its members.
The ruling party said it was also wrong to assume that reconciliation was targeted at its three governors who had been accusing the national leadership of the party of bias in the conduct of party primaries in their states.
The governors are Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, Amosun (Ogun State) and Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara State ).
The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr Lanre Issa-Onilu, who spoke with one of our correspondents in Abuja on Monday, said the party would take solace in the fact that it was doing the right thing by its actions which he said were aimed at deepening democracy.
He said, “Reconciliation has not failed. The reconciliation we are carrying out is not because of three governors that were supposed to be aggrieved, no. It is not because of them.
“The reconciliation committees were set up for all members irrespective of what level of primary they were involved in – whether House of Assembly, whether House of Representatives.
“So, it was for everybody no matter what the grievances are. But a section of the media felt it was just because of just three people (governors).
“If it was just because of the three people, we will not get about the 19 governors involved and other eminent personalities to be involved as well. That is not just for three people.
“At the end of the day, we know they will send in their reports and at the end of the day, many cases that were not reported will be discussed.”
Issa-Onilu said the defections would not affect the chances of the party’s presidential candidate, Buhari, in 2019.
He said the party would have preferred not to lose any of its members to any other rival political party.
But he said when defection happens, people would also find out why it happened.
He said, “The defections will not affect the chances of President Muhammadu Buhari winning the election. Like I said, we don’t want a single member to leave the party.
“But when it happens, the question we are going to ask ourselves is why did they do that?
“If at the end of the day, they left the party because the party decides to do the right thing, we can only pat ourselves in the back, that despite pressure, we stay by the rule of law, we follow democracy.
“Though we won’t be happy that they have left, we will be happy that we are doing the right thing, we are promoting democracy.
“At the end of the day, we know that when one person leaves, three people will come in because that is what many people want.
“They want an atmosphere where the rules will be upheld and each is entitled to one vote and rules are the same and people are equal. Many Nigerians will be happy with that and they will find the APC the right place to go.
“So, when we lose one person, we know it is because we have done the right thing and three people are coming in.
“So, instead of affecting our chances, majority of Nigerians will join us. We don’t have any reason to panic.”