- Secondus, Wike lead negotiating team
- Jonathan meets Babangida in Minna
Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja, Laleye Dipo in Minna and Hammed Shittu in Ilorin
The realignment of political forces to oust President Muhammadu Buhari from office in 2019 progressed Wednesday as leading elements of the reformed All Progressives Congress (rAPC) met with the leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ilorin, the capital of Kwara State.
Although the participants congregated ostensibly to commiserate with a chieftain of the rAPC, Alhaji Abubakar Baraje, who lost his mother recently, THISDAY gathered authoritatively that a meeting that centred on the absorption of the break-away faction of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) into the PDP was held.
At the meeting were Senate President Bukola Saraki, Governors Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto State), Samuel Ortom (Benue State) and Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara State) as well as the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, who led the party’s National Working Committee (NWC).
The Ilorin meeting coincided with another one in Minna, the capital of Niger State, involving former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), and former President Goodluck Jonathan. Although no word came from the duo, THISDAY learnt it was connected with the ongoing mobilisation against Buhari’s return bid.
An insider told THISDAY that the “conspirators’’ decided to use the opportunity of the 48-day prayer for Baraje’s late mother to deliberate on crucial political issues, ahead of the 2019 general election.
While Tambuwal and Ortom left Abuja Wednesday afternoon for the meeting, Secondus-led PDP leaders were said to have joined them from Yobe State, after paying a condolence visit to the family of late Adamu Ciroma.
Ortom on Monday said he had left the APC, following what he described as “a red card” given to him by some powerful forces within the party.
His exit, THISDAY gathered, was part of an elaborate political intrigue, shaping the future of the ruling party.
THISDAY had reported that at the root of Ortom’s ordeal, was his erstwhile godfather, Senator George Akume’s ambition to clinch the Senate Presidency in the event of the incumbent, Saraki’s exit from the party.
The insider further stated that “outside issues concerning preparation for big political event to receive members of the rAPC, who are decamping to PDP, Saraki’s increasing interest in contesting the plum position of the presidency, especially since he was discharged and acquitted by the Supreme Court over alleged falsification of assets declaration,’’ were also discussed.
Saraki-led political bigwigs are expected to dump the ruling APC with scores of federal and state legislators any moment from now.
The Senate president was received in Ilorin on Tuesday by a huge crowd, while visiting the state for the first time, since he won his case at the Supreme Court.
Apart from Governors Tambuwal, Ortom and Ahmed, who are said to have made up their minds to dump APC, it was gathered that six other APC governors, who consider it politically unwise to move, according to various and reliable sources in the know of the realignment process, would remain in APC and play the “spoiler’s role’’ as part of the strategic plan to push Buhari out of power next year.
Six governors elected under the platform of APC were in Sokoto recently to beg Governor Tambuwal to reconsider his decision of leaving for another party. The governors were led to the discussion by the Chairman, Nigerian Governors Forum, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari.
Others were Alhaji Abubakar Bello of Niger State, Alhaji Bello Masari of Katsina State, Alhaji Kashim Shettima of Borno State, Mr. Jubrilla Bindow of Adamawa State and Alhaji Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa State.
At the meeting, the governor of Sokoto State was said to have expressed bitterness about how he had been unfairly treated by the president in the past three years, in spite of his huge contributions to his electoral success in 2015.
Ahmed: I am Yet to Take Decision to Leave APC
Meanwhile, Ahmed said Wednesday that he was yet to take a decision on his political future with the APC.
But he quickly said that his principal, Saraki, and other political leaders in the APC were gradually being shown the way out of the party.
A terse statement in Ilorin Wednesday night by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Communication, Dr. Muideen Akorede, said the presence of some politicians in Ilorin Wednesday was not for any political realignment as being insinuated in certain quarters.
According to him, “The presence today in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, of the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki; PDP Chairman, Prince Secondus; Governor Ortom; Governor Tambuwal and Governor Wike; ex-Governor Lamido of Jigawa; Senator Lawal Shuaibu; Senator Barnabas Gemade and other prominent political figures was for the burial rites of the late mother of respected politician, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, and was not for the purpose of a political realignment.
“While I have not been briefed on any planned defection, I am aware that my principal and other political leaders in the state are gradually being shown the way out of the APC.”