Molly Kilete, Abuja The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has declared its readiness to deploy Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to the Niger Delta region to secure oil and gas pipelines and other critical oil installations owned by Shell company in the country. The deployment of the UAVs, according to the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal…
• Allege marginalisation, issue 7-day ultimatum
• Demand meeting with Buhari, Oyegun
The crises rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) have worsened. This is because the Peoples Democratic Party elements in the party who are the former members of the New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) accused the ruling party of harassment, intimidation and persecution of its members.
They are the former PDP members who defected to form the APC.
In 2013, some PDP governors and bigwigs fell out with the leadership of the party and demanded the removal of the then national chairman,
Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, who had the support of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Former governors Chibuike Amaechi, Rabiu Kwankwanso, Murtala Nyako, Babangida Aliyu, Sule Lamido, of Rivers, Kano and Adamawa, Niger and Jigwa states respectively were the most vocal and staunchest opponents of the Tukur’s leadership and wanted his removal. Jonathan however continued his support for Tukur against the governors’ wishes.
By August 2013, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the seven governors stormed out of the party’s special national convention at Eagle Square, Abuja and announced the formation a new faction of the party and called it the New PDP.
At a press briefing by a former acting national chairman of the party, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, the new faction announced Olagunsola Oyinlola as the national secretary, while Baraje was chairman. The briefing was attended by the seven governors and by then there were reports that the governors were in talks for a merger with the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
In November 2013, the APC then announced a merger with the Abubakar Baraje-led faction of the PDP. Of the seven governors (G7) in the breakaway faction, five including Amaechi, Kwankwaso, Nyako, Ahmed and Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto all joined the APC. Babangida and Lamido were reported to have remained in the PDP for ‘strategic reasons’.
Others bigwigs who left the PDP for APC were former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Nasir el Rufai, Speaker of the House of
Representatives, Aminu Masari; former PDP vice chairman, Sam Jaja; Timipre Sylva, former House of Representatives speaker, Aminu Tambuwal and former Kwara governor, Bukola Saraki.
In a scathing letter said to be addressed to the National Chairman of APC, Chief John Oyegun, and signed by Baraje and Oyinlola, dated May 7, 2018, they complained bitterly.
The letter reads: “We the members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who moved over from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to form the APC before the 2015 general elections are desirous of strengthening our party especially now that new party congresses have commenced and the convention and another general elections are imminent.
“It is an undeniable historical fact that the movement of the former New PDP block to form the APC contributed immensely to the victory of the APC in the elections.
“The former new PDP included five sitting governors of Sokoto, Kano, Kwara, Adamawa and Rivers states and former governors of Kebbi, Gombe, Osun, former Vice President of Nigeria, former acting National Chairman of PDP, sitting Speaker of the House of Representatives, many serving members of the National Assembly and many renowned politicians and PDP elders. It was a watershed moment in Nigeria’s political history.
“Most of these leaders not only delivered their states to the APC at the elections, some of the governors were also assigned specific responsibilities to ensure that other states were delivered to the APC.
“These efforts, contributions and sacrifice were made in spite of the fact that the presidential ticket was taken by the erstwhile Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) blocks of the party.
“It is a matter for grave concern that President Buhari has never publicly acknowledged our efforts in the face of clear evidence that the total number of votes scored by the APC in states where leaders and members of the then New PDP block held sway made the difference.
“Indeed, the influence, activities, momentum and ripple effect generated by the former New PDP block was significant in the victory of APC in the entire elections in the whole country.
“Our grievances include: In the constitution of the Federal Executive Council, (FEC) the New PDP block was generally sidelined as virtually no position was conceded to it.
“The only member of FEC that belonged to former New PDP block comes from a state that contributed virtually no vote to the APC in the 2015 presidential elections.
“There has been no significant patronage and appointments to executive positions in various government agencies such as chief executives and executive directors of government agencies and parastatals.
“Members of our block of the party continue to helplessly watch as these positions are shared by the erstwhile CPC, ACN, ANPP and even APGA blocks of the party and those who have no party at all.
“In appointments into boards of various government agencies, very few former New PDP members were patronised. These are, however, not commensurate with our contributions to the growth and victory of the party.
“When members of the former New PDP block showed interest in running for the offices of President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives, they were subjected to a vicious and relentless political opposition as if they were not legitimate members of the APC family.
“There has been general lack of consultation, non recognition and even persecution of former New PDP members and leaders by the party and government.
“Harassment, intimidation and persecution of former New PDP leaders by the government, is still an ongoing affair. We do not want to overstate the obvious by cataloguing names of former new PDP stalwarts that are targets of this political pogrom.
“There is inadequate reflection of programme and policy contributions of members of the former New PDP block in the running of the government.
“Our belief is that it does not augur well for our party if a section of it feels that it is being treated as outcasts and meddlesome interlopers in the party they rightly belong with the legitimate expectation to be treated with justice both in the running of the party and the government.
“We request for an urgent meeting with the leader of the party, and the party executive leadership to find lasting solutions to the issues raised so as to prepare the party as a fighting force to deliver more pungently on its manifesto and face the 2019 elections with even greater commitment.
“The meeting will also enable us to work out modalities to ensure a level playing field for all in the congresses and convention of the APC.
“Given the constraining factor of available time and in the interest of our great party, it is strongly advised that the said urgent meeting be held not later than seven days from the date of the receipt of this letter.
“We the members of the former New PDP block of the APC wish to reiterate that this letter is written patriotically with the best of intentions and the good of our party, the APC, and is issued to alert the leadership of the APC and in particular, the leader of our party, President Buhari, who only recently indicated his intention to seek a second term as President, of grievances that exist within the party with a view to ensuring justice for all members of the APC family regardless of the blocks they came from prior to the formation of the APC.”
Many state chapters of the APC, including Bauchi, Delta, Kaduna, Kano, Niger and Oyo and even at the national level are engulfed in crises.