NPDP Wing of APC Signals Discontent, Considers Options

  • PDP asks former members to return

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

With the All Progressives Congress (APC) yet to overcome the internal wrangling that characterised most of its ward congresses and its botched governorship primary in Ekiti State, more trouble appears to be looming for the ruling party, as members of the defunct “New PDP” who defected to the APC from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2013, have written a petition complaining about the alleged maltreatment of its members by the APC-led administration.

Although the group denied that the petition was a sign that they were planning to leave the APC, political observers said Wednesday that it was a signpost that several of the New PDP members were considering their options, including defecting from the ruling party ahead of the 2019 elections.

Members of the New PDP included former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar who has gone back to the PDP, Senate President Bukola Saraki, Sokoto Governor Aminu Tambuwal who was the Speaker of the House of Representatives when the defection took place, five sitting governors of Sokoto (Aliyu Wammako), Kano (Rabiu Kwankwaso), Kwara (Abdulfatah Ahmed), Adamawa (Bala James Ngilari) and Rivers States (Rotimi Amaechi) at the time, and former governors of Kebbi (Usman Dakingari), Gombe (Danjuma Goje), Osun States (Olagunsoye Oyinlola).

Other major defectors included Abubakar Kawu Baraje, many serving members of the National Assembly, several politicians and PDP elders.

The group, which left the PDP during the height of the crisis in the then ruling party to fuse with the APC coalition in 2013, is now accusing the ruling party and its administration of marginalising and maltreating their members, despite their contributions towards bringing the APC to power in the 2015 elections.

Specifically, they are complaining of being treated as outsiders in a party they helped to build and sustain.

The group lamented that while some of their members were denied security cover to visit their constituencies, others were being prosecuted and had been subjected to a witch-hunt by agents of the government.

The New PDP members led by a former national chairman of the PDP faction, Baraje, in the petition submitted Wedneday to the APC, also issued a seven-day ultimatum to the leadership of the APC to arrange a meeting with the leader of the party and the party executives to find lasting solution to the issues raised.

In a four-page letter dated April 27, 2018 and signed by Baraje and Oyinlola and addressed to the national chairman of the APC, they alleged that despite their contributions to the success of the ruling party, their members have been relegated to the background in the scheme of things in the party and in government.

Pointedly referring to Amaechi, the group said the only seat that went to members of the New PDP in the Federal Executive Council (FEC) was given to a member whose state contributed “virtually no vote” to the APC in the 2015 presidential election.

The letter read: “We the members of the APC who moved over from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to form the APC before the 2015 general election in Nigeria are desirous of strengthening our party especially now that new party congresses have commenced and the convention and another general election are imminent. Obviously, this cannot be achieved without addressing fundamental issues, which we wish to raise in the 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 that 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 election and the presidential election in particular.

“It is an undeniable historical fact that the movement of the former New PDP block to the APC contributed immensely to the victory of the APC in the election. The former New PDP included five sitting governors of Sokoto, Kano, Kwara, Adamawa and Rivers State and former governors of Kebbi, Gombe, Osun and a 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 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 election, some of the governors were also assigned specific responsibility to ensure that other states were also delivered to the APC in the 2015 election. 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) block of the party.

“It is a matter for grave concern that His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari 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 (284,851) 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 election as one united party.”

They listed their grievances to include:

(a) In the constitution of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) the New PDP block was generally sidelined as virtually no position was conceded to it. The only member of FEC that belonged to the former New PDP block comes from a state that contributed virtually no vote to the APC in the 2015 presidential election.

(b) There has been no significant patronage and appointments to executive positions in various government agencies such as chief executives and executive directors of government agencies and parastatals, as members of our block of the party continue to helplessly watch as these positions are shared by the erstwhile CPC, ACN, ANPP and even APGA blocks of the party and those who have no party at all.

(c) In appointments into boards of various government agencies, very few former New PDP members were patronised. These are however not commensurate with our contributions to the growth and victory of the party.

(d) When members of the former New PDP block showed interest in running for the Offices of President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives, they were subjected to vicious and relentless political opposition as if they were not legitimate members of the APC family.

(e) During the party primaries, preparatory to the 2015 general election, most of the promises made to sitting members of the National Assembly, who belonged to the former New PDP in terms of a level playing field were reneged upon or observed more in breach.

(f) There has been general lack of consultation, non-recognition and even persecution of former New PDP members and leaders by the party and government. For example, some of our leaders are denied the security cover necessary to visit their constituencies even though they are elected representatives of the people in a government they sacrificed so much for.

(g) Harassment, intimidation and persecution of former New PDP leaders by the government are still an ongoing affairs. We do not want to overstate the obvious by cataloguing names of former New PDP stalwarts that are targets of this political pogrom.

(h) There is inadequate reflection of programme and policy contributions of members of the former New PDP block in the running of the government.

The group further observed that it would not augur well for the APC if a section of it felt like it was being treated as outcasts and meddlesome interlopers in the party they rightly belong to with the legitimate expectations 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 election 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 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 Buharl, 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,” the group added.

Speaking with journalists after submitting the letter to the party leadership, Baraje said their aim was to point the way forward for the APC.

He dismissed speculations that they were planning to dump the APC, adding that members of the former New PDP had contributed significantly to building the APC and bringing it to power.

Reacting to the complaints and observations made by its former members, the opposition PDP immediately told members of the New PDP to feel free to return.

The PDP National Publicity Secretary Kola Ologbondiyan said: “They should return home, APC had nothing to offer them, and the democratic setting that they left in PDP could never be find in APC.

“APC is an amalgam, it is moving without its soul. It has demonstrated in three years that it can only kill our democracy, it cannot give it life.

“The democrats who left the Peoples Democratic Party and went to sojourn at the APC should return back to their home.

“PDP is going to lead a coalition of every Nigerian who is sick and tired of hunger and starvation and the drift towards totalitariasm and autocracy.”