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APC, nPDP national convention of cacophony

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Barring any last minute change, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) would hold its National Convention in Abuja tomorrow. Ahead the convention, the party has been bedeviled with crisis, bordering on the quest by so many interests who were out to gain control over its soul. The most visible of the grim battle has been the quest for relevance by members of the New Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a group of former members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who jumped ship to form a coalition that birthed APC in 2014.

The leadership crisis has been silently festering for a while, but it came into the open when the nPDP members, led by a former PDP national chairman, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, on May 9, wrote a letter to the APC leadership, threatening to pull out from the mega arrangement. The Baraje group then issued a seven-day ultimatum, failure of which it said it would dump the ruling party unless the APC leadership, particularly President Muhammadu Buhari, agrees to have a meeting with them to address their grievances.

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nPDP, which has among its members Senate President Buokla Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, Governors Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto) and Abdul-Fatah Ahmed (Kwara), among others, accused the APC leadership of marginalization, alienation and harassment.

However, while the Baraje-led group within nPDP was still seeking for the face of thye president, a faction from within the group, led by Senator Abdullahi Adamu and Honourable Abdumumuni Jubrin, put a lie to the allegations as the group, in another letter, accused the Baraje group of insincerity, claiming that it was not representing nPDP in its entirety.

Since the crisis broke open, there has been series of meetings held to pacify the nPDP members in APC, even as President Buhari has insisted on not meeting them on the ground that what they are asking for is purely a party matter and that he is not ready to interfere in such. One of the meetings held by the APC leadership with the Baraje group was the one led by the party’s Deputy National Chairman (North) Lawal Shuaibu. But the nPDP members were not satisfied with the meeting, even as they insisted on meeting with the president or no dice.

The insistence of the nPDP group to meet with Buhari necessitated a follow up meeting with Vice President Yemi Oswinbajo and was attended by Senator Saraki and Dogara where it was resolved that the nPDP team should isolate the issues at hand and be scheduled for discussion at a meeting which is yet to hold, even as the APC National Convention would take place tomorrow. The situation, expectedly, is creating confusion within the party fold as nobody is sure if the nPDP members will carry out their threat to leave the party, more than 40 days after the expiration of their seven-day ultimatum to the party leadership.

There has been an intense horse-trading and variable of discussions in the bid to keep the party together, even as President Buhari gave his support to Osinbajo to have another meeting with the aggrieved nPDP leaders , even as the latter are keeping the APC leadership on suspense on their next line of action following the suspension of talks with the president- a worrisome development in view of the fact that the convention is coming up barely 24 hours away.

As things stand, it is not yet certain if the nPDP bloc would be willing to back down from their stance and attend the National Convention as some of its leaders have bitterly complained that they have been shut of the party’s National Convention Committee, a further attestation to their claim of marginalisation within the mega-party arrangement. Members of the nPDP bloc are however awaiting further directives from their leaders on what to do in respect of the convention and their future in the party.

On the other hand however, the president’s camp, while seeking for a cohesive party leadership that would APC in a good stead ahead the 2019 elections, wants those it accused of divided loyalty to be weeded out of the party. The president’s loyalists are particularly interested in retaining eight out of the 42 posts being contested for at the convention and which they considered to be very strategic. These posts included the National Chairman, National Secretary, Deputy National Chairman (North and South), National Organising Secretary, National Publicity Secretary, National Women Leader and the National Youth Leader.

The pro-Buhari group further claimed that the nPDP leaders were no longer committed to APC, accusing them of being in talk with some other political parties, with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) said to be considered as the most favourable option.

However, more facts have emerged on why President Muhammadu Buhari may not yield to the groundswell of persuasion in some quarters within the top hierarchy of APC to dialogue with the leaders of nPDP. While it was reported that the Presidency may had shifted ground and have a meeting with the nPDP members, the Nigerian Tribune exclusively gathered that President Buhari was not favourably disposed to such a meeting with those he was said to have described as “not being loyal to APC and its cause right from the onset.”

In the face of the discontent in the nPDP bloc in APC, some leaders of the party had continued to mount pressure on the president to have a meeting with the disenchanted nPDP and forestall their ditching the party, as the chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum and Zamfara State governor, Alhaji Abdul’Aziz Yari, was said to had mooted the idea of a dialogue at a recent meeting of the forum with the president.

However, the position of the president was also said to have been supported by the Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, who reportedly told the president that he should let the nPDP members leave the party in the interest of the other members who were said to constitute the majority.

A top source within the Presidency disclosed, while speaking with the Nigerian Tribune, said, “President Buhari felt it would amount to disloyalty talking with a group of dissidents who constituted a tiny fraction within the party, to the detriment of the members of the other four political parties that came together at the formation of APC in 2013. The president is not really against the idea of meeting with all members of the party as a single entity in order to further promote unity within the party. However, what he is against is the idea of a fraction of PDP who called themselves nPDP lording it over others.

“We all know that four major political parties came together in 2013 and surrendered their certificates of recognition to form what is now known as the All Progressives Congress (APC). These four major political parties were later joined by a tiny fraction of PDP. In 2013, the former Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the All Nigerian People’s Party (ANPP) and a part of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) forfeited their honour and identity and surrendered their certificates of recognition to form APC. They were only joined by a few members of PDP, while the former ruling party still retains and maintains its identity till date.

“The so-called nPDP is just a fraction of PDP and thus its members are just an infinitesimal part of the mega arrangement that came to be called APC. It also would amount to disloyalty to APC and its leadership if the nPDP members still see themselves as such,” the source said under the condition of anonymity.

Speaking further on the threat to pull out of APC, the source said it remained a mere empty threat, adding that if they eventually carry out their threat, it would have no negative impact on the ruling party “as their number is insignificant. I can tell you authoritatively that the position of President Buhari has the support of Governor Nasir Nasir el-Rufai who is of the opinion that, in politics, you lose some and win some, but that the best bet is to lose a negligible knowing that you have still have the greater majority left in the party,” he said.

As the nation looks forward to the convention, the questions on the lips of all are: will the nPDP bloc go the whole block and carry out its threat and pull out of the party or will it eat the humble pie and remain a passive stakeholder in the ruling party? Will APC go for the exercise with one house or as a house sharply divided against itself?

The post APC, nPDP national convention of cacophony appeared first on Tribune.

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