- President jittery over 2019 elections, says PDP
By Tobi Soniyi in Lagos and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Ahead of the planned meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari today, members of the New Peoples Democratic Party have marshalled out their demands which the ruling All Progressives Congress must meet for them to remain with the ruling party.
However, with yesterday’s police invitation to Senate President Bukola Saraki, it is not clear if the nPDP meeting with Buhari will still hold.
A source within the nPDP who confided in THISDAY said the president and APC must extend to them automatic tickets that will enable Saraki to return as the Senate President if he wins re-election to the Senate.
Similarly, the nPDP also wants the APC to guarantee that the speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara will be allowed to return as the speaker once he wins re-election to represent his federal constituency.
“Since the party has more or less agreed to give the president automatic ticket to fly the party’s flag during next year’s presidential election, the nPDP wants similar treatment for principal leaders of the National Assembly,” the source said.
The nPDP is demanding a firm commitment from the APC that they will allow principal leaders of the National Assembly to retain their seats.
To avoid what transpired in 2015 when some leaders of the APC reneged on the gentleman agreement that would have allowed Saraki to emerge as Senate President with the support of the APC, the nPDP is demanding that APC agrees in writing which will become enforceable.
THISDAY source said that nPDP would demand from President Buhari that his party, APC agrees in writing to support Saraki and Dogara to return as Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives respectively once they are elected into the National Assembly by their district and constituency.
They are demanding the Buhari treatment for the Senate President and the speaker, should they win their district and constituency elections, they should support them to emerge Senate President and speaker respectively.
Another condition which the nPDP will want the Presidency to guarantee is that the governor of Benue and Sokoto states, Samuel Ortom and Aminu Tambuwal, as well as other governors who are members of the nPDP, will be given automatic tickets to seek re-election as governor of their respective states.
The nPDP is also demanding that a former governor of Kano, Rabiu Kwankwaso and a former Sokoto State, Aliyu Wamako are allowed to return as senators.
In addition, nPDP will equally demand from Buhari that he allows both Kwankwaso and the Kano State governor, Ibrahim Ganduje to jointly manage the APC in Kano in a way that will guarantee cohesion and unity of purpose.
Members of the nPDP said that their demands would ensure stability at the highest level of governance and avoid a situation where people who should be working in accord work at cross purposes.
The nPDP consists of those who left the PDP in 2013 and joined forces with other parties to form the APC and helped the party win the 2015 presidential elections.
They recently cried out accusing the leadership of the APC of not appreciating their contributions.
Among them are former governors of Sokoto, Aliyu Wamakko; Kano, Rabiu Kwankwaso; Kwara, Abdulfatah Ahmed; Adamawa, Murtala Nyako and Rivers, Rotimi Amaechi.
There were also former governors of Kebbi, Adamu Aliero; Gombe, Danjuma Goje; Osun, Olagunsoye Oyinlola; former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar; former acting National Chairman of PDP, Abubakar Baraje and an ex-Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal.
They also wrote to the National Chairman of the APC, John Odigie-Oyegun asking him to facilitate a meeting for them with President Buhari within seven days.
In the letter signed by Baraje and Oyinlola, they reminded Odigie-Oyegun how their movement to the APC, not only swelled the ranks of the party but ensured success at the polls.
According to them, most of their members delivered their states to the APC at the last elections.
They also said some of the governors were assigned specific responsibilities to ensure that other states were also delivered to the APC in the 2015 elections.
They said Wamakko, apart from his state, Sokoto, also took charge of Kebbi, while Mr Kwankwaso, the then governor of Kano State, took responsibility for Kano, Kaduna and Jigawa states.
â€œThere 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,â€ they said.
The nPDP described their efforts in the APC as a â€œwatershed moment in Nigeriaâ€™s political history.â€
They said their contributions and sacrifice were made to the APC 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) blocs of the party.
â€œIt 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 bloc held sway made the difference,â€ they said.
The group also narrated its grievances which it said, if addressed would lead to a harmonious APC â€œwhere 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 partyâ€.
They said in the constitution of the Federal Executive Council, (FEC) by Mr Buhari, the nPDP block â€was generally sidelined as virtually no position was conceded to it.â€
They said the only member of FEC that belongs to their group â€œcomes from a state that contributed virtually no vote to the APC in the 2015 presidential elections.â€
The ruling APC was formed by the merger of four parties: the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
â€œIn appointments into boards of various government agencies, very few former nPDP members were patronised. These are however not commensurate with our contributions to the growth and victory of the party,â€ the group said.
They also said when their members showed interest in running for the offices of President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives, they were subjected to a â€œvicious and relentless political opposition as if they were not legitimate members of the APC family.â€
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had last week met the group behind closed doors.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said that President Muhammadu Buhari is mortally afraid of losing the 2019 general elections to the opposition.
The party said the declaration by President Muhammadu Buhari that he cannot match the resources of the opposition ahead of the 2019 presidential election is a clear admission that he has totally squandered the goodwill that brought him into office in 2015, due to his abysmal failure.
This revelation by President Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC) party has further portrayed Mr. President and his party as mortally afraid of the PDP, having realized that the key electoral resource which our renewed PDP enjoys is the overwhelming support and goodwill of Nigerians.
In a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP said it is unfortunate that President Buhari would resort to face-saving stunts, barefaced blackmail and outright condemnation of the PDP rather than admit his failure to fulfil campaign promises that he freely made to Nigerians.
“Perhaps, Mr. President needs to know that Nigerians have become more politically sophisticated and that the only resources needed by a political party or a candidate in an election is the goodwill of the people and not financial reserves,” it said.
The opposition said President Buhari and the APC should not be surprised that Nigerians have rejected them and returned to the PDP.
“Here are the reasons: In the last three years, the Buhari-led APC administration wrecked our resilient economy, which was thriving under the PDP; escalated hatred, violence and daily bloodletting by insurgents and marauders across our country; brought acute hunger and starvation, institutionalized siege mentality, persecution and trampling of rights of citizens while turning our nation into one of the worst places to live.
“It is indeed pitiable that instead of seeking ways of regaining the support of Nigerians, President Buhari and his APC are engaging in needless propaganda and working on how to financially sway voters. Unfortunately, Nigerians have already moved beyond the deceits of APC.
“Indeed, President Buhariâ€™s fixation on money politics confirms fears that the unabated syphoning of trillions of naira by the cabal at the Buhari Presidency through sleazy oil subsidy deals in the NNPC and the Ministry of Petroleum, in addition to the looting of public funds in other agencies, under the APC, are all preparatory for the manipulation of votes for President Buhari in 2019.
“Perhaps this accounts for why a government that claims to be fighting corruption is breaking new grounds in corruption-related activities.
“We want President Buhari and the sinking APC to know that the repositioned PDP will not rely on money to win the 2019 general elections. The goodwill and support of Nigerians are enough resources for our victory.
“President Buhari should therefore not think that he is addressing Nigerians of 2015, who gave him votes by listening to mere rhetoric and tales by moonlight.
“Nigerians have moved on and they know that the PDP is the only credible vehicle to return our nation to the path of peace, national cohesion and economic prosperity, which were the hallmarks of the PDP years, before the unfortunate incursion of the APC,” it said.