It has emerged that a meeting of aggrieved members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was held on Wednesday where the participants weighed several options, with majority backing the idea of a mass defection from the ruling party.
The meeting was attended by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, among other chieftains of the APC.
A statement yesterday by the chairman of the nPDP, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, said the meeting was called to intimate members on the outcome of an earlier meeting with the leadership of the APC.
Baraje and other members of the nPDP on Monday met with APC stakeholders over allegation of marginalization against in the ruling party.
The group, in April, demanded to meet with officials of the ruling party to discuss their grievances and expectations from the APC and the Muhammadu Buhari-led government.
“Following this development, the party invited us and we honoured their invitation for a meeting. We met with the leadership of the party last week, during which we resolved to report the outcome of our meeting to our members and stakeholders before arriving at any decision or proceeding with the next phase of discussions or actions with the APC and government,” Baraje said in the statement.
But on the list of the nPDP members at the Wednesday meeting provided by Baraje were names of political office holders that were never part of the nPDP or its parent party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), checks by Daily Trust on Sunday showed.
One of those in attendance at the meeting said last night that the meeting was not restricted to the members of the nPDP block in the APC alone as other ‘like-minds’ also attended.
As part of the outcome, it was learnt, there is the likelihood that the affected members would leave the party in en masse, Daily Trust on Sunday has learnt.
The source, who is a lawmaker, said they discussed issues relating to how some of them were treated during the last congresses of the party and the way forward.
The lawmaker, who was never part of the nPDP, said they may leave the party if no concrete action was taken to address their grievances.
The meeting was well attended, with some governors who could not make it sending their apologies, the source said.
“I was at the meeting as a like-mind, not as a member of the nPDP because I was never part of them. We felt that so many things are going wrong in the party. Most members of the nPDP are not well treated.
“Look at what they are doing to Dino Melaye, who is an APC senator. Even during the PDP era, nobody did such a thing to anybody. The police would drag a senator who suffered for the party on the ground and no action was taken.
“Again, if you look at the congresses held, many nPDP members were sidelined, so they need justice. But the ultimate decision taken is to give the party some time to see if they would address the issues. If they don’t, then we’ll have no option than to leave,” the source said.
Asked which party they would join in the event that their grievances are not addressed, the source said no decision was taken on that.“We all worked for the APC and we should be treated equally; that’s what we are saying,” the lawmaker added.
Another lawmaker, who is a member of the nPDP, confirmed that the meeting was for like-minds as other members also attended.
Another source, who was at the meeting, said the tone was set by the Senate president who opened the floor by speaking about the plight of the members of the nPDP in the APC.
The source said: “After Saraki spoke, he asked us what would be our next step. We told him that we thought the meeting was convened for us to pull out of the APC.”
The senator said, at the end of the meeting, they resolved to pick one of two options.
“One of the two options supported by the majority was the immediate pulling out of the APC. Almost everybody who attended the meeting supported this option.
“But the issue now is that we must forestall the repeat of what happened to us when we joined the APC. Most of the speakers said we must have concrete agreements between us and the party that we will cross to,” he said.
The second option was for them to remain in the APC and continue to consult and strategise, adding, however, that it did not go down well with majority of the aggrieved members in attendance.
“This last option was not supported by many of us. The first option was the one that majority of us supported. The meeting was well attended by almost all members of the nPDP from across the country,” he said.
Asked to name those who attended the meeting, the source who spoke after seeing the statement issued by Baraje said: “All the names listed in the statement were in attendance, but Tambuwal was just a listener at the meeting. He didn’t say anything.”
Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that the meeting set up three committees to advise it on the next line of action to take.
“The first committee has been tasked to articulate the grievances of those who attended the meeting, including nPDP members and many others that joined much later but could not be fully accommodated, a source said, adding, “The committee has been directed to look at the relationship with the APC and the presidency; how they were shoved aside by the current leadership and the failure of President Muhammadu Buhari to fully resolve the problem,” the source said.
“The second committee was tasked to look at the state of the nation, including the economy and others. They were also asked to aggregate the political strength of aggrieved members in their states; the mass of people they could go along with in the event they would leave the party.
“The third committee is expected to shop for a strong political party they could join as a group so that they could negotiate from the position of strength,” he said.
Another source said the aggrieved members were already in talks with the PDP and ADC.
“Many of those that attended Wednesday’s meeting strongly feel that PDP is the party to join because Nigerians know it very well and it has structures all over.
“But the condition for joining the PDP is that the name should be changed. They want the letter ‘A’ to precede PDP so that the party would now be called ‘APDP’, and this is for two reasons. The first is to enable the party appear on top of the ballot paper so that Nigerians would find it easier to trace it. The PDP is down in the ballot; and remember that we have about 68 political parties now.
“The second reason is that in the event the ADC agrees to merge with the PDP, its first letter ‘A’ which stands for Africa that would be adopted,” he said.
“Even though the aggrieved legislators said in their communiqué that they would not leave the APC, that is not the actual case,” a source close to one of the aggrieved senators, said.
“Yes they would remain if their grievances are met, which is very unlikely because in most instances, it means that Buhari would tame governors in favour of legislators and others. The conceivable option is to leave the party. I can assure you that at present, at least 20 senators and no fewer than 100 members of the House of Representatives are set to go.
“And there would be a band wagon effect, meaning that more legislators would leave in the coming months ahead of party primaries in order to actualise their dreams.
“As things stand, with the exception of very few, many senators and reps have lost out the battle to their governors in their states after the congresses, and there are others, especially ex-governors who might likely leave despite the fact that they are in control of the APC in their states. They have security a report that the EFCC will not spare them immediately after the election,” he said.
The meeting was well attended by members of the nPDP, including serving and former governors, senators, members of the House of Representatives and other aggrieved APC stakeholders, Baraje said in the statement.
“Those that attended the meeting include Sen. Saraki, President of the Senate; Yakubu Dogara, Speaker, House of Representatives; Tambuwal, governor of Sokoto State; Sen. Rabiu Kwankwaso; Prince Oyinlola, Admiral Murtala Nyako (rtd); Sen. Adamu Aliero; Sen. Danjuma Goje; Sen. John Enoh; Sen. Andy Uba; Sen. Ibrahim Gobir; Sen. Rufai Ibrahim; Sen. Ibrahim Danbaba; Sen. Suleman Nazif; Sen. Isa Misau; Sen. Muhammed Shitu; Sen. Shehu Sani; Sen. Dino Melaye; Sen. Suleiman Hunkuyi; Sen. Shaaba Lafiagi; Sen. Bala Ibn Na’Allah; Sen. David Umaru; Sen. Barnabas Gemade; Alh. Abubakar Baraje, chairman, former nPDP; Rep. Aminu Shagari; Rep. Kabiru Marafa Achida; Isa M. Ashiru; Hon. Muh’d Musa Soba; Hon. Mark Gbillah; Rep. Sani Mohammed Rano; Rep. Garba Umar Durbunde and Rep. Aliyu Madaki, he said.
“Others are Rep. Zakari Mohammed, Hon. Rufai Ahmed Chachangi; Hon. Razak Atunwa; Hon. Emmanuel M. Udende; Hon. Hassan Saleh; Hon. Nasiru Garo Sule; Hon. Orker Jev; Hon. Aliyu Ahman Pategi; Hon. Isah Halilu B.; Hon. Rabiu Garba Kaugama; Hon. Abdussamad Dasuki; Hon. Ismaila A. Gadaka; Hon. Lado Suleja; Hon. Dickson Tarkighir; Hon. Babatunde Kolawole; Hon. Dr. Bode Ayorinde; Hon. U. Danjuma Shida; Hon. Danburam Nuhu; Hon. Sunday Adepoju; Hon. Sani Zorro; Hon. Ahmed Garba Bichi; and Hon. Garba Ibrahim Mohammed, among others.”
A source close to Dogara confirmed that the Speaker attended the meeting.
Dogara has been having a running battle with the Bauchi State Governor Mohammed Abubakar.
Dogara did not attend any of the APC congresses held in the state.
Prior to the state congress held last week, he and other notable personalities such as Senator Isa Hamma Misau and Nazif Gamawa approached a court to stop the congress.
Contacted, the special adviser to Saraki on media and publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said he was not aware of any meeting between his principal and other members of the APC.
“I do not know anything about the meeting. You said a statement had been issued, why can’t you stick to it?” Olaniyonu said in a phone interview.