By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor and Omeiza Ajayi
Ex-PDP members (nPDP) write Buhari, issue 7-day ultimatum to address issues
•Allege ‘political pogrom’ against members; Saraki, Dogara, Goje, others involved
ABUJA — The All Progressives Congress, APC was yesterday, headed towards another major crisis as one of its legacy groups, new Peoples Democratic Party, nPDP, issued a seven-day ultimatum to President Muhammadu Buhari to address grievances of marginalization and persecution of its members.President Buhari with APC National Chairman John Odigie Oyegun, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Chairman APC Governor’s Forum and Governor of Imo State Rochas Okorocha
The ultimatum was conveyed in a letter to the President, channelled through National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun by a delegation of the nPDP led by Alhaji Kawu Baraje, chairman of the defunct nPDP. The letter was signed by Baraje as chairman, and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola as Secretary.
In demanding for a meeting with the President ahead of the national convention of the party, the nPDP bloc expressed dismay that despite significant contributions they made, they have been sidelined by the government. Even worse, they fumed that positions they got in the National Assembly have led to persecutions and witch-hunt against them.
Meanwhile, the Presidency rebuffed enquiries on the development yesterday as it directed enquiries to the party.
National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi said he was out of the office when the delegation came and so did not have a narrative of the discussion with the National Chairman.
“All I have seen is what is there on social media,” he told Vanguard yesterday.
The nPDP statement, Vanguard gathered last night, was articulated with the acquiescence of major players in the bloc, including Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, Speaker Yakubu Dogara and other major players in the bloc who crossed over from the nPDP to the APC in 2014.
Conspicuously left out was Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who only got to know of the development through aides contacted by Vanguard yesterday. An Amaechi associate was, however, dismissive of the threat from the minister’s former colleagues.
Other major players in the nPDP who were alleged to have given vent to the letter were Senators Rabiu Kwankwaso, Danjuma Goje, Magnus Abe, Aliyu Wamakko, Governor Aminu Tambuwal among others.
It will be recalled that other major political blocs that converged to form the APC were the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Congress for Progressives Change, CPC and the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP.
The other blocs were however dismissive of the threat with a member of the National Working Committee, NWC of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, describing the nPDP threat as unserious and ineffectual.
“They are not serious. Is Amaechi not in the executive, is Bukola Saraki not Senate President? Is Dogara not the Speaker? So, what do they mean?,” a source in the former ACN said.
Senior officials of the CPC were not forthcoming on the issues yesterday. The last spokesman of the party, Engr. Rotimi Fashakin did not respond to a text message sent to him and did not respond to calls.
nPDP seeking better deal
Vanguard, however, gathered that the demand was coming in order for the bloc to explore the prospects of a better deal within the APC , failing which they might explore other options available to them. One of the options for the members is to return to the PDP with the possibility of changing the name of the party or to remain within the APC and fight themselves to relevance.
In the letter to the National Chairman by Baraje and Oyinlola, the nPDP said: “We the members of the APC, who moved over from the 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 round of general elections are imminent. Obviously, this cannot be achieved without addressing fundamental issues which we wish to raise in this 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 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 form the APC contributed immensely to the victory of the APC in the elections. The former new PDP included five sitting Governors of Sokoto, Kano, Kwara, Adamawa and Rivers States and former governors of Kebbi, Gombe, Osun, 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 renowned 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 elections, some of the governors were also assigned specific responsibilities to ensure that other states were also delivered to the APC in the 2015 elections. Then Governor of Sokoto took charge of Kebbi, and 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 sacrifices were made in spite of the fact that the presidential ticket was taken by the erstwhile Congress for Progressive Change, CPC and the ACN blocks of the party. It is a matter for grave concern that His Excellency, Mr. 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 (264,851), and Benue (373,961) votes. These represented significant additions to the APC victory column. Indeed, the influence, activities, momentum and ripple effects generated by the former newPDP block was significant in the victory of APC in the entire elections in the whole country.
nPDP lists grievances
“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.
“Our grievances include: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 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 a 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, is still an ongoing affair. 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.
“Our belief is that it does not augur well for our party if a section of it feels that it is being treated as outcasts and meddlesome interlopers in the party they rightly belong with the legitimate expectation 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 Buhari, 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 statement added.