The New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) has assured that prominent members of the group such as the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, among others would not leave the All Progressives Congress (APC) for another party.
The assurance came yesterday as the national leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) opened dialogue with members of the nPDP, who recently expressed some misgivings about the fate of their members.
The ruling party, after the meeting, admitted that the nPDP had genuine grievances.There had been speculations that several political heavyweights who left the PDP for the APC in build up to the 2015 general elections were planning to make a detour back to the PDP or other political parties.
But the leader of nPDP, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, said that the group will remain in the ruling party.
Baraje told newsmen that the nPDP had begun sorting out its grievances with APC leadership.
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.
The aggrieved party members gave the party seven days to address their grievances.
Deputy National Chairman (North) of the APC, Senator Lawal Shuaibu and other members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) yesterday met with Baraje and his team at the National Secretariat of the APC in Abuja.
Also in attendance were the APC National Secretary, Alhaji Mai Mala Buni; National Organizing Secretary, Senator Osita Izunaso; National Youth Leader, Hon. Ibrahim Jalo Dasuki and National Treasurer, Alhaji Mohammed Bala Gwagwarwa.
The meeting, which held behind closed doors, came barely two weeks after Baraje led members of his political bloc to the APC National Secretariat and submitted a petition, alleging that the nPDP had been excluded from the government which they claimed they worked hard to install in 2015.
Fielding questions from journalists after the meeting, Baraje cleared the air on the insinuations that his group had threatened to leave the party if they can’t get what they want.
“We never threatened. If you look at that letter, what we said was that we suggested that we are attended to, and have a meeting within seven days as a result of the preparation for congresses and convention. If you look at that paragraph, that is what we said,” he said.
He applauded the leadership of the APC for their swift response in granting them audience.
He expressed delight that the dialogue process has commenced, adding that he hoped that it would continue until the issues were resolved.
“As you are aware, we requested that we wanted to see the party and the party – very sensitive party, very responsible party – responded to our requests adequately and we think it is a very encouraging time.
“Since last week, they’ve gotten across to us, but because of one logistics or the other, we couldn’t come until today. We begged the party to shift the day till today, and today, we have seen our party. We are party members, this office is our office, we have only come home to discuss those observations we copied you people we wrote in our letter. The meeting was very beautiful.
“So far, so good. We have just started. And when you start a race, you don’t say whether somebody wants to see you until you are getting to the middle or to the end. But it is a good start, it is a good beginning,” he said.
On the apparent crack within the nPDP following the emergence of Senator Abdulahi Adamu-led faction, Baraje said he would not join issues with the splinter group as majority of the members of the political bloc were loyal to him.
“I am not ready for that because somebody had earlier responded to them adequately. I think the former youth leader of the defunct nPDP responded to them and once somebody has responded; there is no need beating around the bush.
“In any case, in any group, particularly political groups, you are bound to have a splinter while the splint is best known to them. As far as we are concerned, the group that sent me here, or sent us here are 95.9 per cent intact,” Baraje said.
Asked when the talks with the national leadership of APC might be concluded, Baraje said: “No. When talks begin, you can’t say it will end on a particular day. It goes on and on. It may please the party to say, okay let’s shift the meeting to another venue to discuss with other stakeholders.”
On his part, Shuaibu said that he received the group on the instructions of the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.
According to him, the party decided to invite the leadership of the nPDP to the party secretariat to enable them discuss the issues contained in their petition in the spirit of fair hearing.
“We have not yet resolved. They wrote a letter to us, they are party men, they have grievances, we looked at the letter, their grievances are genuine. And they requested a meeting within seven days and before the seven days expired, I called them and they were not ready to come. They said we should shift the meeting till today, which we did.
“So, we are listening to them; we have listened to them and we are taking up their matter seriously; we will address it. We don’t ignore our people except if you don’t send your grievances to the party, but if you send, we will always address your grievances,” Shuaibu said.
It could be recalled that a few days after Baraje submitted a petition on behalf of the group, Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Adamu, led a splinter group to counter the petition, describing the content as lacking substance.
Adamu also alleged that the move was a calculated attempt by Baraje and his followers to destroy the APC and defect to another party.
The APC, which was formed in 2013, is an amalgam of the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), a faction of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the New PDP.
The New PDP bloc was led by then Governors Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa) and Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers).