Governors Sule Lamido of Jigawa State and Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, yesterday, took on their Kano counterpart, Mallam Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso over his accusation that the two governors betrayed five other governors on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who agreed to dump the party following their irreconcilable differences with the leadership of the party.
It will be recalled that Governors Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko of Sokoto; Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara; Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano; Babangida Aliyu of Niger; Sule Lamido of Jigawa; Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State and former Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State, who were members of the G-7, within the ruling party opted out to form what was known then as the new PDP. While the other five governors teamed up to form the All Progressives Congress, APC, Governors Sule Lamido of Jigawa and Babangida Aliyu of Niger returned to the PDP.
Speaking on their exit from the PDP weekend, Governor Kwankwaso said both Aliyu Babangida and Sule Lamido betrayed the other five governors by returning to the PDP.
Why I betrayed them— Lamido
Responding to the accusation while speaking to journalists in Abuja, Governor Lamido said: “I am a betrayer, confirmed. I betrayed them. I did, yes. I am aligning myself to what he said. I am aligning my answer to what he said, go and find out from him. But I did that in the interest of the nation.”
In his response, Governor Babangida, however, said there was never a time the G-7 group planned to dump their party(PDP) for another party and that there was no basis for any of the members to label him as a betrayer.
He said at the time he led the G-7 group, the objective was to resolve the leadership problem in his party and not to dump it as some of them have done.
A statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary Israel Ebije in response to Governor Kwankwaso’s claim that he (Babangida) was privy to the G-7 decision to decamp to APC, Aliyu said there was never a time the issue of dumping their party for whatever reason was discussed.
He described the defection of some of them to the All Progressives Party as a personal decision which he as leader could not query and as such those of them who refused to defect with them should therefore not be seen as traitors.
Aliyu however said he has no regrets in leading a group that brought sanity to the PDP at a time the party was passing through difficulties. He said their effort was indeed nationalistic and a reflection of maturity of Nigerian democracy.
I never planned to dump PDP— Babangida Aliyu
His words: “Let me state in categorical terms that I never discussed with the G-7 governors over issue of decamping to the APC. I led the group primarily to stabilize the PDP. At that time, the PDP was having challenges hinging on impunity which had to be addressed.
“Let me, therefore, intimate that based on principle, I never planned to abandon the PDP for another party. It is also important to note that the G-7 achieved its objective of repositioning the PDP which was at the time passing through leadership challenge. Therefore I had no reason to leave, besides our effort brought the ruling party back on its feet.”
He said he will remain committed to the PDP and would work towards ensuring that the party wins all elective positions in Niger State.
Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of Kano State while speaking in Kano, weekend, said: “Everyone knows that Governor Lamido was part of us, he was the leader of the group. He took us to a certain height before choosing otherwise and we were all surprised by his final decision.
“But, if there is anybody who would criticise our exit, it shouldn’t be Lamido and the Niger State Governor. After all, our judgment would decide the outcome of the general election. However, we know that PDP is no longer the monster it used to be, and I tell you they are ready to do anything to have someone like me who was considered as an irritant back in their fold.”
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