Iyobosa Uwugiaren, Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has set up a committee to meet with the reformed All Progressives Congress (rAPC) and harmonise the positions of both parties on their bid to work together in 2019.
The committee, which party sources said would be announced during the week, is also to discuss the possibility of changing the name of the PDP as requested by some of the other political parties and politicians proposing to join the party.
The party’s decision was taken at its 80th National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting Monday following assurances that many big wigs in the rAPC would defect to the PDP by Thursday.
Those expected to leave the All Progressives Congress (APC) nest, include Senate President Bukola Saraki, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso and Governors Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), Samuel Ortom (Benue) and Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara).
According to reliable THISDAY sources, they are expected to move with their loyalists in the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly.
The PDP’s NEC also approved the expulsion of the senator representing Ogun East in the National Assembly, Senator Buruji Kashamu, for “hobnobbing” with the APC.
Also, the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, gave the leaders of the main opposition party something to cheer when he said that PDP would soon take control of majority of seats in the National Assembly following the anticipated defection of lawmakers from the ruling party.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, who briefed journalists at the end of the meeting, said as a rebranded and repositioned party, the party would no longer condone any act of indiscipline within its fold.
Consequently, some other members were suspended from the party. They were Semiu Sodipo, Bayo Adebayo and Segun Seriki, all from Ogun State chapter of the PDP.
On the planned change of name, Ologbondiyan failed to give any specific time frame given the committee to submit its report.
“We are not talking of time frame here now because we have no time. Tomorrow we can come out and say this is what we have decided,” he said.
Ologbondiyan said that NEC applauded the fusion of R-APC into PDP and approved the alliance entered into by the party with other 39 political parties.
He said a template has been approved by the party for every state chapter on how to handle the fusion of new members into the PDP.
According to him, a certain percentage of party structure has been approved for states where a serving governor is one of the new members, adding, however, that the National Working Committee (NWC) was not imposing any structure on any state chapter.
He said that NEC approved the decision of NWC to challenge the result of Ekiti State governorship election in court, adding that a legal committee headed by the National Legal Adviser, Mr. Emmanuel Enoidem, has been constituted for the purpose.
Earlier in his opening address, the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, said the party summoned the crucial meeting of its leaders to assess the state of the nation and to take necessary decision ahead of the 2019 general election.
Secondus said a lot of things had happened in the last few months that needed to be addressed for the country to move forward.
He said the emergency NEC meeting was convened to review recent happenings in the country and to chat a way forward for the party.
He lamented that Nigerians have been traumatised by the orgy of senseless killings going on around the country.
According to him, what was more worrisome was the fact that the present administration seemed not to have the political will to address the ugly situation.
He said the economy was still in a shambles as Nigerians yearned for pre-2015 era, adding that unemployment had not only worsened under the APC government, but that most Nigerians wondered where the next meal would come from.
Speaking on the recently held Ekiti State governorship election, Secondus decried the alleged manipulation of votes that occurred there as well as the harassment and intimidation of PDP members by security forces.
“This must not be allowed to happen in Osun,” he said, adding: “Let me assure our teeming supporters that we have all the polling unit results and overwhelming records of electoral infractions by the APC, security agencies and INEC. We will reclaim our mandate in court.”
He said the country’s situation demanded that all people of goodwill must join hands to legally see out the APC government.
On his part, the Chairman of the PDP’s Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Walid Jibril, said the situation demanded tremendous sacrifices from members of the party if the PDP must bounce back to power.
Regarding the move by the party to form a coalition with other parties, he said the party must do all it could to ensure that everything worked out well.
The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, said the party was standing firm with Nigerians in all the difficulties they had been subjected to, adding that by the grace of God by the time the PDP regains power in 2019, the people will be rewarded for the tenacity and support for the restoration of sanity and good governance in the land.
The Acting Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon. Chuka Onyema, said that they were hopeful that things would soon begin to change for the party, adding that by the time the party meets again, the nomenclature would have become different.
According to Onyema, the party would witness mass defection from the APC members in the National Assembly into the PDP.
Meanwhile, after weeks of lobbying by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Adams Oshiomhole-led All Progressives Congress (APC) to persuade them not to leave the party, members of the rAPC have finally resolved to join the PDP this week.
Chatting with THISDAY in Abuja, an insider in the rAPC said Buhari and Oshiomhole might have given up on their attempts to persuade the aggrieved members of APC not to leave the party.
“Yes, it is settled; we are leaving this week; like the Senate President stated during the week, it is not about him; it is about Nigerians, our democracy and the urgent need to rescue our country,’’ the source stated, adding: ‘’And before the end of this week, we will tell Nigerians how we plan to work with the PDP to rescue our country from the hands of President Muhammadu Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress.’’
On his part, Tambuwal is also expected to declare his presidential interest under the platform of PDP. He is said to have relocated to Abuja a few days ago, in preparation for his defection to PDP this week.