A major power bloc within the party, the New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) appears to have perfected plans to embark on a mass defection following the repeated rebuffs it had received from the ruling party.
The nPDP had petitioned the APC over allegations of persecution and perceived marginalisation of its members and was in dialogue with the leadership of the party until the talks broke down a few weeks ago.
“We are on the verge of leaving the APC. Our movement out of the ruling party will take place this month. There is no going back about our exit from the APC,” one of the leaders of nPDP told New Telegraph last night. Leader of the nPDP, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, yesterday hinted that his group will make its position on its membership of the APC known this week.
He said that the group’s agitation has never been for personal gains, but rather in the general interest of the downtrodden masses of Nigeria. Baraje, in a statement, disclosed that he and other political stalwarts in the group have been holding series of meetings and consultations in respect of their plight in the ruling party and the way out of the situation. According to him, members of the group would have concluded their consultations and come out with their stand on all what they stood for within the APC before the end of this week.
Baraje explained that members of the group have been meeting regularly and that the time was now ripe to make their position known to all well-meaning Nigerians. He stressed that the corporate interest of the citizens of this country and a united Nigeria, where no man is oppressed, is paramount and very dear to members of the nPDP. Baraje also expressed appreciation to Nigerians whom, he said, had always seen reason for their struggle.
It would be recalled that members of the group fully participated in the June 23rd National Convention of the APC held in Abuja where Baraje declared that they did so to demonstrate to the Nigerians and the leadership of the APC that they are loyal members of the ruling party.
However, New Telegraph gathered that the presence of Baraje and other prominent members of the group at the convention was to fulfill all righteousness as negotiations for their exit from the party was already at an advanced stage at the time of the convention.
As at yesterday, it was not clear where members of the nPDP would pitch their tent, but feelers from the group indicated that they were considering two options namely moving en masse back to the PDP and fusing into either the African Democratic Congress (ADC) or the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
A source familiar with the scheming of the nPDP disclosed that Baraje and his followers were only bidding time, but will certainly leave the APC for another party. “It’s only a matter of time, but they will leave APC.
It will be difficult for them to return to PDP where they originally belonged because of the way they left. Therefore, they may move into the ADC or SDP, depending on the one that suits them best,” our source said. Attempts by our correspondents to reach Baraje or any of his allies to confirm their position was unsuccessful.
Baraje did not pick the calls made to his mobile phone.
However, National Chairman of the ADC, Chief Ralph Nwosu, confirmed that his party has been discussing with some personalities from the nPDP as well as other aggrieved members of the APC on the possibility of joining forces ahead of the 2019 general elections. In a chat with New Telegraph, Nwosu said that ADC was prepared to welcome any well-meaning politician from the ruling party or other parties, provided such politicians were prepared to abide by ADC’s ideology, principles and vision.
“We are discussing with nPDP. We are discussing with PDP and we are discussing with a lot of people in APC who feel very disgruntled. Many of these people have entered a onechance train and they are looking for an exit route. “ADC is open to both the old and new politicians, but they must commit to the guiding principles that we have set for the party. We are a vast and diversified country and we must commit to the handshake that is unifying.
They must commit to our role modelling leadership paradigm,” Nwosu said. Senator Andrew Uchendu (APC/Rivers) who led the mass defection of 37 members of the House of Representatives from the PDP to the APC (under the canopy of the nPDP) in 2013, however, told New Telegraph that he was not sure that the Baraje group would leave the ruling party.
Uchendu, who affirmed that he, alongside many other legislators, moved into the APC as members of the nPDP, said he could no longer speak authoritatively about the activities of the group since nobody had invited him to any of their meetings for a long time.
“I was the leader of the G37 in the House of Representatives who defected to the APC from PDP. But to the best of my knowledge, nobody has invited me to any of the meetings. I have not been invited to any of the meetings and I do not want to say what I do not know.
“For those of us in the ruling party, if there are injustices being meted to us as individuals or as a group, the constitution of the party allows us to air it and for party leaders to see to its resolution or redress. That’s the much I know.
“I don’t know if there is anybody leaving the party. Baraje didn’t say that they are leaving. He said that they will continue to pursue to redress of some of the perceived injustices,” Uchendu said.
The nPDP is made up of Senate President Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; governors including Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State; Abdufatah Ahmed of Kwara State; former governors, over 50 federal legislators and other key politicians. New Telegraph had reported that members of nPDP bloc in APC are weighing three options.
The three options followed the outcome of an enlarged meeting of the group, which was held in Abuja recently after the first direct meeting with the national leadership of APC. The first option for nPDP, according to sources, is for members to see through the on-going discussions and negotiate a favourable outcome for the aggrieved group.
The second option is for nPDP members to pull out of APC and join an existing party with written agreement to forestall a repeat of their experience in APC. The third option for nPDP is for its members to pull out of APC and form a new party.
A source earlier told New Telegraph that the third option has been shelved because of the exigency of time. Some members of nPDP favour aligning with one of the existing parties while others root for a return to PDP. Baraje confirmed that the aggrieved APC members are considering the three options. He stated that a committee has been constituted to fine tune their positions on the options available to nPDP.
The nPDP had, in a letter dated April 27, told the APC leadership and President Muhammadu Buhari to stop treating its members as outcasts and meddlesome interlopers in the party they rightly belong. They accused the Buhari- led government of sidelining, harassing, intimidating and victimising its members.