President Muhammadu Buhari will not meet with members of the defunct New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP), who are threatening to leave the All Progressives Congress (APC), it was learnt yesterday.
They have accused the ruling party of marginalisation and are threatening to defect to another party.
The nPDP is one of the blocks that formed the APC in 2014 – the main groups being Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP).
On May 9, the nPDP wrote a letter to the APC leadership, seeking a meeting within seven days, to address its grievances.
It also alleged harassment of its members by the Federal Government. The letter was signed by Alhaji Kawu Baraje as the group’s leader.
However, another group of ex-PDP members in the APC led by Senator Abdullahi Adamu and House of Representatives member Abdumumin Jibrin in another letter, accused the Baraje group of insincerity and not representing the group.
The APC leadership led by Deputy Natonal Chairman (North) Lawal Shuaibu, met with the Baraje group.
A follow-up meeting was chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, where it was agreed that the nPDP team, which had Senate President Bukola Saraki and House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara in attendance, should isolate the issues for discussion at the next meeting, which is yet to hold.
However, there were speculations that a meeting with the President was in the offing.
But it was learnt yesterday that the President told a parley of party chiefs last week that he would not be meeting with the nPDP leaders because “it is a party matter”,
Buhari, according to sources, said he was not disposed to getting involved in the matter. He was quoted to have said: “I will not interfere.”
He reportedly told the governors at the meeting he had with them, that they as party leaders in the states “should deal with all issues as they are raised and where there is need, the party leadership can come in”.
The President, the sources added, however, endorsed Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s intervention which he said should continue.
A few days to Saturday’s National Convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari’s supporters, including some governors and party leaders, have been holding marathon meetings on how to keep the party intact.
There has been intense horse-trading on how to secure some of the eight key posts in the National Working Committee (NWC).
Governors are being wooed to back Buhari at the convention.
But the aggrieved leaders of the New Peoples Democratic Party(nPDP) have kept the APC leadership in suspense on their next moves after the suspension of talks with the Presidency.
It is unclear if nPDP leaders will attend the convention because some of them have complained of being shut out of the National Convention Committee.
There was anxiety in the party yesterday on what the nPDP caucus was up to.
The belief in the President’s camp is that a “cohesive” party leadership will put APC in good stead for the 2019 poll.
Those with divided loyalty, the President’s supporters believe, should be weeded out of the NWC.
A source said: “Some of our governors and leaders of APC have been holding series of meetings on how to make APC stronger with a new set of leaders who can complement the administration of the President.
“These leaders, who are strategists of the President, are also working round the clock to reshape APC for the electoral battle ahead in 2019. We do not want to run a divided party in view of the gang-up by some leaders.
“These marathon meetings in Abuja border on the need to be on the same page with like-mind governors and party leaders; putting in place harmonised or unity list; and laying a fresh foundation for the unity of the party.”
The source added: “I might not give you their names but horse-trading is going on among governors and party leaders.
“It involves weighing options on candidates, a give-and-take negotiation and putting 2019 poll above any other interest.
“There are eight positions the presidential strategists cannot joke with. They are the National Chairman, National Secretary, Deputy National Chairman (North); Deputy National Chairman (South); National Organising Secretary, National Publicity Secretary; National Women Leader and National Youth Leader.
“Of course, the nPDP factor has been dominating all discussions and the governors and party leaders have left options open.”
As at press time, it was not clear if leaders of nPDP will attend the National Convention of APC or boycott the event.
A party source said: “We do not know what the nPDP leaders are up to but we are preparing for the worse, including their likely defection from APC.
“Some of these leaders are no longer committed to APC.
We are aware that they are already negotiating with some parties.
“We are hopeful however that the statutory and elected delegates among the nPDP leaders will be at the convention.”
A source in nPDP said: “We are waiting for our leaders to give us direction on whether or not to attend the National Convention. As at Monday, the presidency and APC leadership have not addressed all our grievances.
“Instead, what we have experienced is the inclusion of some factional leaders of APC in some states in the National Convention Committee (NCC) which we considered insulting.
“Take the case of Kwara State where the chairman of nPDP, Alh. Kawu Baraje, comes from, it is pathetic. Some leaders of an illegal faction of APC in his state have been made members of the NCC.
“Some of us prefer a total boycott of the convention by nPDP, but it is left to our leaders to tell us the direction we are going on Saturday.”
The issues in the party include the following:
to retain the zoning formula or not;
should there be a total overhaul of the NWC, led by the outgoing National Chairman John Odigie-Oyegun?
won’t it help party cohesion to have a mixed grill of Oyegun team and new NWC members?
how to accommodate the nPDP Caucus to stave off defection; need to have an NWC which can make Buhari’s re-election possible
suitable and acceptable candidates for eight key positions; and averting a plot to disqualify some key contestants.