• Former nPDP leaders in talks with party
•Ex-VP, ex-gov deny involvement
•Kwara group moves to poach from ruling APC
Emboldened by last Wednesday’s judgment of the Supreme Court, which settled the leadership tussle within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), some former members of the party are set to quit the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and return to the umbrella-symbolled party.
Indications to this effect became rife on Thursday night when Saturday Telegraph got wind of a meeting holding between some bigwigs within the PDP and some of their former colleagues, who are now in the APC. A further probe by our correspondents however revealed that the meeting involved some former members of the group that what was then known as the newPDP, who defected to the APC in the wake of the 2015 general elections.
Sources within both parties confirmed that the Supreme Court ruling, which confirmed the leadership of the PDP on the Senator Ahmed Makarfi led faction, might have buoyed the defectors to conclude a plan to return to the PDP.
Ex-nPDP leaders in talks with former party
Investigations by our correspondents however revealed that there had been series of meetings between some of the defunct nPDP and APC members, who had been awaiting the verdict of the apex court. One of the sources informed that some of the defectors, who in 2013, formed what was then known as the newPDP, are the major players in the current move, while not ruling out the possibility of new entrants from some of the parties that formed the APC.
“Don’t you know them? They are from the second PDP. Have you forgotten them? They called themselves the newPDP at that time. They had been meeting before the ruling, it is certain that some of them will go back. “This is the judgment they had been waiting for. It could have been different if the judgment had gone the other way.
Some of them had said openly that they cannot work with Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff, but with the victory given to the Makarfi group, you can expect majority of them to go back to their vomit. “You need to see how they were dancing as if it was their party that won the court case. It is obvious that their hearts are still with the PDP.
They are just waiting for the right excuse to use and return to the PDP”, he said. The Supreme Court had in its judgment affirmed that the PDP leadership led by the party’s caretaker committee’s chairman, Ahmed Makarfi, was the authentic faction of the party.
However, feelers within the party last night revealed that former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, former Kano State Governor, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, might be among those considering a return to the PDP. But one of our sources was quick to exonerate the former Rivers State Governor from the clandestine moves to jettison the ruling party, saying, “except for people like Amaechi, who are serving, and who you don’t expect to quit the cabinet, most nPDP members will go back ‘home’, where they belong”, he said.
Another highly placed party member, who is in the know of the latest twist, told this newspaper that most, if not all the members of the nPDP may be on their way back to the PDP. The source, who was not categorical when such movement would be, however, insisted that the need to return to the party was necessary considering the fact that the judgment had given hope for a fresh PDP emerging from the rubbles of a crisis-ridden party. According to the female source, the rebirth is coming at a time when the APC was no longer living up to its billing in meeting the socio-political and economic yearnings of Nigerians. She said: “As you can see, the Supreme Court judgment has thrown up so many things.
From all indications, a lot of realignment and counter-realignment will begin to emerge to shape the countdown to 2019. “Don’t be surprised when you begin to see the return of our nPDP members who went to APC. Yes, I can tell you that they are already thinking of a return and this will definitely happen. This I know.”
The big madam’, as she is fondly called was of the opinion that the restructuring agenda being propagated by Atiku, is one major reason that the former VP would return to the PDP, insisting that he can’t achieve his aim of restructuring Nigeria in the APC. “Atiku can never be in the APC and still be talking of restructuring. He can’t achieve that in the party, he has to come back to the PDP. “But before then, I want you to recall that Atiku is a strong contender for 2019 presidency. So, we know that Atiku is already considering this option since he had been championing the cause for the nation to be restructured.”
Atiku: Not true, insists on restructuring
But one of Atiku’s aides who craved anonymity denied the report saying; “that is not on the table and not on the agenda. “The rumoured defection had been going on for some time now, we don’t know where that is coming from. But I can tell you it is not true. Atiku remain in the APC”. Also, the Special Assistant on Media to Atiku, Mr. Paul Ibe, told Saturday Telegraph that the insinuations could not be true.
According to Ibe, the former Vice President remains a loyal member of the APC and any report of him crossing over to another party at this time is merely speculative and should be ignored.
“He is a loyal member of the APC who worked for the emergence of this government. He deployed his resources in aid of the party before, during and after the 2015 elections. So I don’t know what greater commitment somene can show than what he had done,”Ibe said.
And as if our source was reading Atiku’s mind, the former VP who had been in the forefront of the campaign to restructure the polity, yesterday insisted that Nigeria must be restructured for national cohesion.
Atiku, yesterday urged debaters and contributors on restructuring to be openminded. He also charged the states opposing restructuring because of the oil to have it in mind that oil would not have an everlasting relevance, but to make use of the relevance it has today and develop their revenue base.
He said: “The states or zones of the country that are most dependent on oil revenues have a greater urgency to decouple themselves from that dependency now that there is still some oil revenue to assist them in the transition. That window may not remain open for a long time, which may then make the inevitable transition much more painful and chaotic.”
“Restructuring will contribute to national cohesion and good governance, as it would decongest the centre and enhance greater manageability, efficiency and accountability. “Restructuring will ensure greater accountability. People are more likely to hold their state and local governments to account once those governments are no longer able to convincingly blame the central government for their shortcomings; Restructuring will promote healthy competition among our federating units, which will encourage them to diversify their revenue sources.
“Restructuring will ensure greater fairness and a perception of same among our constituent parts and there is also another huge economic imperative for us to restructure: oil, which underlined and underwrote our excessive centralization and fragmentation into numerous unviable states, and which has been at the centre of much of our squabbles, seems to have reached its peak as source of revenues for our country”. On those holding different views about restructuring, the former Vice President said: “Yes restructuring may mean different things to different people.
Like all things with political and economic implications, those calling for restructuring have varying positions, which is not a bad thing. But we won’t really find out how close our positions are to those of others until we sit down with them and start to talk and negotiate. The biggest challenge seems to be that we seem to be allowing moderate voices on this issue to be drowned out by the reckless utterances of a few rabble-rousers on all sides who may be tools in the hands of those who do not wish this country well.
Kwakwanso denies involvement
But, in a swift reaction, Kwankwaso refuted the claims through his spokesperson, Binta Spikin, saying there was no time he muted the idea of moving out of the party that he suffered to nurture. “Kwankwaso is not an unpopular politician who will go out of a party unannounced, you know the army of his followers across the country so I don’t think he can even think of decamping without first discussing it with his loyalists.”
The former governor, who was among those that dumped the PDP after polarising it shortly before the 2015 general elections, said he didn’t see anything good in the PDP that would make him go back. He reminded that the ruling APC is still the party to beat despite the lapses being witnessed, saying all those needed to be corrected would soon be corrected and that, that does not mean the party has completely lost ground.
The spokesperson noted that when Kwankwaso was going out of PDP he did it in such a way that he attracted attention. “It is not that simple thing for a Man like Kwankwaso who drive national loyalty and supports to just decamp to a party that still is searching for it is based. “If truly he is going out of the ruling APC it would have been the talk of the town by now because he will do it in such a way that millions of his followers will be put in the know and be prepared for the journey ahead.”
Kwara PDP moves to poach from APC
In Kwara State, the leaders of the party confirmed that they were ready to poach more members from the APC as a means of working towards a 2019 victory in the state. A leader of the party said they were convinced many APC members were not happy with the way things were being done in the state but had no veritable platform to move to given the crisis of the PDP and expressed confidence that with the situation now resolved, such members will only be glad to be invited to the PDP. “We are ready to poach even their big names because we know they are unhappy here’, the party elder who is also a member of the central working committee in the state said.
State chairman of the party, Prince Sunday Fagbemi, while addressing members who had gathered at the party’s secretariat to celebrate the decision of the apex court, said the leaders would also work to ensure that members that left the PDP due to the crisis were brought back. Fagbemi called on all, including his factional colleague, Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo, to join the PDP to effect a genuine change.
The PDP boss said the decision of the court would also filter down to the factional situation in the state and would work to reconcile with the other faction. He said: “We know that if we join hands, the misrule, misgovernance, poverty promotion, and negatives that they have brought upon us will be brought to an end.
The legacy they are saying must continue in Kwara will be stopped because there is nothing to continue. The change they have brought must be changed for a better Kwara. “The widely applauded ruling of the nation’s apex court has rekindled Nigerians hope in the judiciary as the last hope of the command man. “The ruling is a welcome development and a relief to Nigerians yearning for a virile opposition party, the absence of which has made the ruling to be slumbering and denying the citizens good governance.
“We thank the judiciary for staying on the side of the truth and we urge its officials to continue in that direction, so that together we can build a country where there will be equal opportunities for all, regardless of class status. “With this landmark judgement, our great party, the PDP is now in a better stead to play its role as the leading opposition party in the country. It’s also a great opportunity to reposition the party ahead of the 2019 general elections.
“We have strong conviction that the party under the chairmanship of Makarfi will wrest power from the crisis-ridden APC in the next general elections. The feat recorded by the PDP in the last weekend senatorial bye election in Osun State is a pointer to this”, he said.