Prominent politicians who moved en bloc from the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2013 may collectively move to another party on June 23, credible sources told Daily Trust yesterday.
June 23, the sources added, is symbolic as it is the day the ruling party would hold its national convention to elect new leaders.
A top politician familiar with what is going on in the ruling party, the opposition and the presidency said the nPDP members led by Alhaji Kawu Baraje had concluded plans to move out of APC.
“Convention is very important for any political party because it is the creation of the party constitution and any decision taken there is binding, it can make and mar any political party no matter how strong it is,” the source said.
If the aggrieved nPDP members go ahead to leave the party on June 23, it would re-create the scenario in 2013 when former Vice President Atiku Abubakar alongside some governors staged a walkout from the PDP convention. Shortly after, they announced the formation of nPDP at the Yar’adua Centre.
The development paved the way for some PDP senators, members of House of Representatives among others to join the APC, which went ahead to defeat the then ruling party.
“The nPDP wants to score a big point by leaving the APC on the day of its convention. Decisions taken during conventions or extra ordinary meetings carry weight; enough to put a political party in coma,” he said.
“Sadly, handlers of the APC at the highest echelon of power are not doing the needful. It is suicidal to allude that nPDP members do not have political value, it is not true.
“Agreed they joined the APC when many of them were governors, such as Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto, Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara, Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano and Murtala Nyako of Adamawa, but all these people are still strong in their states; they have followers and when they leave, it would tell on the fortunes of the party both at the national and state levels,” he said.
Another source said the nPDP members decided to move ahead because there were no indications that any of their grievances could be addressed.
“Look at the state congresses, with the exception of few places, governors have taken absolute control of all the machineries from the ward to state level. This means those who lost out, of course the nPDP members, would mostly likely have to fall on their knees for them to get tickets to return to their current positions,” he said.
According to him, “Another factor is that during the national convention, the governors would have absolute say and determine who gets what. Do you expect the governors or other forces to allow anyone who is not with them to become even an ex-officio? So the nPDP members have no option but to pull out.
“I suggest that President Buhari calls for another meeting; let him spearhead the reconciliation himself. Yes the VP had done his part but what the president would do would carry more weight; let him concede to some of the nPDP demands especially in terms of appointments…there are vacancies in many places.
“He should also assure those with elective positions such as senators and reps that there would be free and fair primaries and should live by his words. He should give ‘shadow appointment’ to other aggrieved members. What do I mean by this? He should assure them of good recognition after the 2019 elections. This would reduce tension in the party which is necessary ahead of 2019 elections,” he said.
“I am sure many of them would agree and relax but this does not mean that others would not go no matter what you do to them…The president must be seen to be uniting the party himself,” he added.
When contacted, Baraje said the group has not issued any official statement concerning that.
“Have you seen any official statement from us concerning that [quitting the APC]? If not, then act and write only based on our official reaction or statement; thank you,” he said. Some APC leaders approached to speak on the matter declined to say anything, saying it was a sensitive issue. They, however, said a lot was being done to resolve the impasse.
Kwankwaso’s media aide, Binta Spikin, said she was not aware that June 23 has been fixed for the defection of nPDP members including her boss.
“No date has been fixed for our pulling out of the party. It may interest you to know that most people have gone to Saudi Arabia for lesser hajj,” she said in a phone interview last night.
The Special Adviser Media and Publicity to Saraki, Yusuph Olaniyonu, could not be reached for comment last night.
‘We’re ready to receive APC members’
Meanwhile, a member of the PDP told Daily Trust last night that they are ready to receive the nPDP members in the APC who had ditched the party and caused its defeat in the 2015 elections.
The PDP member, who did not want to be named, said they are aware that series of meetings are taking place regarding the return of the nPDP members to the PDP and that they would be glad to have them back.
“You know what goes around also comes around. When they (nPDP) members left the PDP, everybody was clapping. Now they’ve gone there and felt how it is to be in a strange place.
“Look at the way they’re being treated as if they’re not APC members. They caused us a lot when they left, and now it’s payback time for APC. We’re aware that the nPDP members have made up their minds to return home, and we’re ready to harvest them bountifully,” he said.
Asked when the nPDP members will return to PDP, the source said: “I’m not aware of any date, but all I know is that they’re returning soon. Their reconciliation in APC has already broken down, and they’ve made up their minds to return. They’re only waiting for the time.
“For us, this is a plus. We’ll receive them and treat them well because we used to be together. So, there’s no big deal about it.”
A source close to the nPDP members also told Daily Trust that ditching the party is one of the top agenda of the members but that he was not aware if they have fixed any date.
“All I know is that they’re ready to leave the party. The only thing that will stop them is if the presidency does something reasonable to stop them.
“For example, you can’t say you’ll deny the speaker (Dogara) return ticket. You can give him the ticket and allow him to face his opponents during the general elections.
“For me, if they deny him ticket, that will be embarrassing. But whatever it is, they can go anywhere they want. I’m a Buharist to the core; I won’t go anywhere,” the source said.
How truce between nPDP, presidency collapsed
Series of meetings planned to be held with APC leadership, nPDP group and the presidency which started last month to resolve contentious issues stalemated recently.
Baraje had on Monday announced the suspension of their scheduled meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, accusing the Federal Government of persecuting its members with the use of state security apparatus.