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Members of the New Peoples Democratic Party wing of the coalition that formed the All Progressives Congress (APC) have alleged that the alliance has not favoured them since 2015.
They claimed that both the party and President Muhammadu Buhari have sidelined the new PDP members.
They demanded an urgent meeting within seven days to work out modalities to ensure a level playing field for all in the Congresses and Convention of the APC.
The members, led by former National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, issued a seven- day ultimatum to the leadership of the party to arrange a meeting with the leader of the party and the party executive to resolve the issues raised.
In a four-page letter dated April 27, 2018 and signed by Baraje and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and addressed to the National Chairman, they alleged that despite their contribution to the success of the APC, their members had been relegated to the background in the party and the government.
Copies of the letter were sent to President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
The letter said the only seat that went to members of the new PDP in the Federal Executive Council was given to a member whose state contributed virtually no vote to the APC in the 2015 presidential election
There were strong indications that the letter was a smokescreen to lay the foundation for the exit of former PDP leaders from APC.
Those who may leave include Senate President Bukola Saraki, House Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Governor Aminu Tambuwal, ex-Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, ex-Governor Danjuma Goje, ex-Governor Aliyu Wammako and Oyinlola.
Oyinlola, who is the chairman of the board of the Nigerian Identity Management Commission (NIMC), is the coordinator of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM).
The leaders lodged their protest in a letter, which was delivered to the APC National Secretariat in Abuja yesterday.
In the letter, they listed seven reasons why, they said, the coalition which led to the birth of APC was not working.
These are lack of concession of any position to new PDP in power sharing; no significant patronage and appointments to executive positions in various government agencies; fewer appointments of new PDP members into boards of various government agencies; opposition to the emergence of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives; general lack of consultation, non-recognition and even persecution of former New PDP members and leaders; and harassment, intimidation and persecution of former New PDP leaders by the government.
Although they said they were ready for consultations, a top source said: “The letter is a sign that the 2019 war has started. This is the first salvo from New PDP members who are tired of the APC coalition.
“Almost all NPDP leaders, like Saraki, Dogara, Tambuwal, Kwankwaso and Wammako, are already on their way out of APC.
“After the seven-day notice, if there is no concession, these leaders may leave the APC. In fact, Dogara was not at the Ward Congress in Bauchi last Saturday.”
The letter said: “We the members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who moved over from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to form the APC before the 2015 General Elections in Nigeria are desirous of strengthening our party, especially now that new party Congresses have commenced and the Convention and another round of General Elections are imminent.
“Obviously, this cannot be achieved without addressing fundamental issues which we wish to raise in this letter.
“We therefore wish, with due respect, to re-state our expectation then and now that the APC we all laboured to build would be one united, inclusive, cohesive and progressive party devoid of divisions, factions, cleavages and tendencies.
“We envisioned a political party promoting equal rights for all Nigerians and ensuring rapid and even development across the country.
“Of course there is no gainsaying the fact that the lofty ideals enumerated above cannot be attained without ensuring justice for party faithful and citizens.
“ Kindly indulge us to offer a brief reminder of the history of events that led to the victory of the APC in the 2015 General Elections and the presidential election in particular. It is an undeniable historical fact that the movement of the former New PDP block to form the APC contributed immensely to the victory of the APC in the elections.
“The former new PDP included five sitting Governors of Sokoto, Kano, Kwara, Adamawa and Rivers states and former Governors of Kebbi, Gombe, Osun, former Vice President of Nigeria, former acting National Chairman of PDP, sitting Speaker of the House of Representatives, many serving members of the National Assembly and many renowned politicians and PDP Elders. It was a watershed moment in Nigeria’s political History.
“Most of these leaders not only delivered their States to the APC at the elections, some of the Governors were also assigned specific responsibilities to ensure that other States were also delivered to the APC in the 2015 elections.
“The then governor of Sokoto took charge of Kebbi and the then Governor of Kano State took responsibility for Kano, Kaduna and Jigawa states just to mention a few examples. There were also unprecedented efforts by many stakeholders such as Senator Bukola Saraki, in concert with others, to deliver the entire North Central to the APC.
“These efforts, contributions and sacrifice were made in spite of the fact that the presidential ticket was taken by the erstwhile Congress for Progressive Change, (CPC) and the Action Congress of Nigeria, (ACN) blocks of the party.
“ It is a matter for grave concern that His Excellency, Mr President, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, has never publicly acknowledged our efforts in the face of clear evidence that the total number of votes scored by the APC in states where leaders and members of the then NEW PDP block held sway made the difference.
“The stubborn facts are as follows: In Kano State, APC scored 1,903,999 in 2015, and in Kwara 302,146. In Sokoto State it scored 671,926, and 374,701 in Adamawa. In Kebbi State, APC had 567,883 votes and 885,988 in Jigawa. It was the same story in Gombe (459,898), Kogi (264,851), and Benue (373,961) votes. These represented significant additions to the APC victory column. Indeed, the influence, activities, momentum and ripple effect generated by the former New PDP block was significant in the victory of APC in the entire elections in the whole country.
“ At this stage, we would chronicle a few grievances which if addressed will lead to a harmonious APC where justice, equity, fairness and peace will reign and enable APC avoid rancour, reinvigorate the pace of national development and face the 2019 General Elections as one united party.
“There is inadequate reflection of programme and policy contributions of members of the former New PDP block in the running of the government.
“Our belief is that it does not augur well for our party if a section of it feels that it is being treated as outcasts and meddlesome interlopers in the party they rightly belong with the legitimate expectation to be treated with justice both in the running of the party and the government.
“Arising from the issues outlined above, among others, we request for an urgent meeting with the Leader of the party, and the Party Executive leadership to find lasting solutions to the issues raised so as to prepare the party as a fighting force to deliver more pungently on its manifesto and face the 2019 General Elections with even greater commitment.
“The meeting will also enable us to work out modalities to ensure a level-playing field for all in the Congresses and Convention of the APC.
“ Given the constraining factor of available time and in the interest of our great Party, it is strongly advised that the said urgent meeting be held not later than Seven (7) days from the date of the receipt of this letter.
“In conclusion, we the members of the former New PDP block of the APC wish to reiterate that this letter is written patriotically with the best of intentions and the good of our party, the APC, and is issued to alert the leadership of the APC and in particular, the leader of our party, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, who only recently indicated his intention to seek a second term as President, of grievances that exist within the party with a view to ensuring justice for all members of the APC family regardless of the blocks they came from prior to the formation of the APC.
Road to defection opens
Yesterday’s step by the Kawu Baraje group is generally believed to be the beginning of a process that will lead to the defection of some public office seekers within the All Progressives Congress (APC) who believe that they will not have the opportunity to actualise their ambition within the party in next year’s general elections.
Many of them have fallen out of favour. Others feel with President Muhammadu Buhari’s plan for second term, their chance to vie for president is slim, if not closed.
Some have been exhibiting the body language of the opposition from within, opposing, instead of supporting, the government in their utterances and actions.
Some of them have been holding meetings with leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and other political parties.
However, as published in The Nation on Sunday of May 6, President Buhari’s strategists have anticipated the likely defection of some of these people and have been planning “a state by state” approach to checkmate them and ensure that the President is re elected and the influence of these people reduced.
A presidential strategist said: “We know some of those who may defect because intelligence has indicated that some of them are already negotiating the terms of their defection with opposition parties.”
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