By Dirisu Yakubu
When in the build up to the 2019 general elections, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, the immediate past Speaker of the House of Representatives, quit the All Progressives Congress, APC for rival Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; one of the reasons he advanced to justify his action was the failure of President Muhammadu Buhari to deliver on the much-hyped change agenda.
Addressing a National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting of the PDP in February 2019, the then Speaker came short of labeling the APC-led government a disaster, citing the lofty promises it made in the course of electioneering campaign and the harvest four years after. He deflated the President’s public morality which in his words had adorned the garb of hypocrisy for all to see.
With applause punctuating virtually every point he marshalled; Dogara went for the killer when he said by failing to champion the cause of education for the vast majority of Northern youths, Buhari would struggle to earn a place in the hall of fame to which iconic leaders like Ahmadu Bello, Obafemi Awolowo and Nnamdi Azikiwe had since been inducted.
“The almajiris have seen through the fraud, this charade. The President has lost his constituency. We thought Buhari would choose to become the Minister of Education, not Petroleum,” Dogara stated.
For journalists who were yet to settle on a story angle, Dogara made their day as his remark relegated other speakers like former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar and the then Senate President, Bukola Saraki to the notch of “meanwhiles.”
A little over a fortnight ago, the federal lawmaker presided over the screening of nine Ondo governorship aspirants, all vying for the sole ticket to contest the October 10 election.
Typical of him, Dogara took all aspirants down the distance; a development he pinned on the need to do a thorough job devoid of loopholes. Two weeks after this assignment, he returned to the party he once branded a fraud.
“I write to intimate you of my decision to resign my membership of the PDP. This became necessary because the same reasons why (sic) we fought hard in 2019 to effect changes in the governance of our dear state are festering now. I intend to bring these issues to the front burner once again as the fight to install decent and egalitarian government in our dear state continues.
“Why are we segmenting salaries and why is payment of salaries of state workers outsourced to a private firm as consultants?
“Why are contracts inflated, awarded and payment of mobilization done in violation of extant rules on procurement? Why are our highly revered traditional rulers and elders treated with odium contrary to the guarantee we gave during the campaign that such will not happen under a PDP government?
“If I abdicate this responsibility on the altar of partisan loyalty, I will be the most irresponsible and unprincipled politician in Bauchi state…” Dogara wrote in a letter he addressed last week to the PDP chairman of his Bogoro ‘C’ Ward.
“What the former Speaker has not been able to tell Nigerians is if returning to the fold of the APC has now made him “principled and responsible.”
In his reaction, former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode described Dogara’s return to the APC as “unbelievable and totally inexplicable.”
That said, the former minister had to intercede on behalf of Dogara, saying “my prayer is that God delivers Yakubu and cause him to retrace his steps and come to his senses. It is never too late to return to the light and I believe that one day he will.”
He continued: “I urge him to return to God and to the ranks of the God-fearing, the righteous and the faithful and to be the man that the Lord has destined him to be.”
For Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhomhe, Dogara’s defection is a portrait of the shoddy state of politics in the country after two decades of unbroken democracy.
“Likening his cross-over to the APC, Ozekhomhe noted that until the politics of stomach infrastructure is downplayed in the nation’s political process, the much-talked about dividends of democracy would remain a mirage.
“It is inconceivable that Yakubu Dogara, a brilliant lawyer whom Nigerians hailed for politics of principles when he dumped APC for PDP in February 2019 and won his parliamentary election, could suddenly discover that he went to the wrong camp.
“How does a governor’s alleged non-performance in just a little over a year be enough reason to swap camps? It is all about inequitable elites’ distribution of the common patrimony.
“No one is deceived. If the governor was sharing the state’s resources, we would never have heard this.
“Politicians share people’s money in the nights like witches and wizards in a coven. In the United States of America from whence we borrowed our presidential system, you can never hear a Democrat suddenly becoming a Republican overnight, simply because a governor in his state has not done well.
“They have party ideology. Here, there is none. It’s so embarrassing and shameful,” Ozekhome said.
Unconfirmed reports link Dogara’s defection to the politics of 2023 with the Vice Presidency slot up for grabs.
A school of thought claims that the APC is bent on settling for a Southern Muslim to fly its Presidential flag, while the Vice Presidency could go to a Northern Christian, liked across the North and South of the Nigerian divide.
If this is the bait the former Speaker fell for, Nigerians can only wait to see how it pans out for him.
For quitting the APC only to return to its fold, the simple matters of integrity and character would dominate discourse when the partly finally decides the bearers of its flag.
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