Your exit won’t cause any deluge, says Oyegun Makarfi: PDP set to sweep 2019 polls
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has asked his supporters and all past members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to return en masse to the party to help the push to retake power in 2019.
Atiku who rated PDP as about the only political party of note in the country, said what it has achieved so far in governance, no other government has even done 50 per ent.
But the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has also fired back, describing Atiku’s departure from the ruling party as a non-issue.
Oyegun, who spoke while meeting with a group of former APC state chairmen and councillors in his office in Abuja yesterday, said as far as his is concerned, there is no other party as stable as the APC, adding: “Anybody who is anybody is virtually with the APC today.”
Speaking yesterday during his first visit to the national secretariat of the PDP in Abuja after rejoining the party, Atiku said there was no way the present APC-led administration can match 50 per cent of the record posted by PDP while in power.
“Let me pay tribute to past leadership of this great party; whereever they may be and to call upon them to please return home as I have done. It is only by their returning home that we will build a stronger, more united party that can again return to government and continue to deliver the dividends of democracy.
“I can bet you, the records we have achieved so far in governance no government has yet even done 50 per cent of it not to talk of equalling our performance in government,” he said.
Atiku said the return of past members of the party would signal the march towards efforts to retrieve power from the APC in 2019.
On his part, Oyegun said Atiku’s exit would not lead to massive defection from the APC as was being insinuated.
“Let nobody fear that the defection of the former vice president is going to lead to any deluge. If anybody wants to defect, the day you are defecting is the day you bring out your heavy guns not later like the papers are speculating.
“When you stand and they look at your right and left, they say ‘ah this man has done something great’. So don’t ever be afraid that there is going to be any massive defection. As a matter of fact, the contrary is the case. The APC is growing in strength on a daily basis,” he said.
In what seems as a confidence boosting move to forestall any exodus of its members as result of the defection of Atiku to the PDP, Oyegun urged them not to be deceived by the “screaming and opposition rhetoric.”
The APC chairman, who spoke during his investiture as the national life grand patron of the Association of Former Chairmen, Councillors and Ward Leaders in Nigeria at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja last Monday evening, said the PDP which Atiku is joining is yet to get its acts together not to talk of posing any threat to APC.
“The reality is aside the APC, there is no other party that is truly settled, not even the PDP. They are still fighting about how to get a chairman and the rest of it. Today, they say money has come to buy the chairmanship position. So it is something you should take pride in.
“It is just that the remnants of the PDP have found their voice so they are screaming very loud and we think that the whole country is upside down. It is not. The country is making steady progress and your party is growing on a daily basis,” Odigie-Oyegun said.
Earlier, Atiku made what look like a triumphant entry into the national secretariat of the PDP.
His entry to the party premises brought activities to the area temporarily to a halt as party supporters and passers-by besieged the place to catch a glimpse of the politician who was a member the ruling APC until last week when he defected to PDP.
While receiving Atiku at the party secretariat, the National Chairman of the party, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, said the entry of the former vice president has opened the floodgate of the entry of more high profile politicians into the PDP.
He said Atiku’s return came in a good time which would enable him to contribute to the reinvention, remodeling of the party so that in 2019 it would be a smooth ride to Aso Rock.
He again denied that there was secret deal with Atiku for him to return to the party.
“Your Excellency, you have opened the floodgates and we expect many more high profile returnees and new entrants into the PDP. So PDP must be prepared for this, and be ready to reconcile and reiterate in such a way and manner that everybody will be treated and given a level playing field to purse his or her personal aspiration. That is what PDP must stand for if it has to survive,” he said.
Makarfi said PDP has encountered many challenges, but weathered the storm.
“Even this week, we recorded two massive legal victories in another attack against PDP who are hell bent on destabilising this party and holding this party down. So it has not been easy. And the story will be a positive one by the end of the day,” he said.
Earlier in an interview on the Arise Television, a sister media outfit of THISDAY yesterday, Makarfi said preparations for Saturday national convention of the PDP were in its final stages.
He said the leadership of the party would ensure a transparent and well-organised convention and would provide a level play ground for all contestants.
Speaking on the controversy over the failed effort to have a consensus candidate for the national chairmanship position, Makarfi said the party leadership has no role to play in the matter.
He said: “The North first started the talks for micro zoning of offices meant for that part of the country and succeeded in reaching agreement on it. It was accepted by the party as a political arrangement not as a decision of the Caretaker Committee or that of the National Executive Committee (NEC). Again, the North met and zoned positions to states and this is still considered as political arrangement.
“What is the political arrangement. It’s that those who signed to it agrees that they would support in each other in this regard during the election. However, there are others who may disagree with that and they are free to exercise their rights but they know that they are on their own,” he said.