There are strong indications that the suspected defection plan of some chieftains of the Reformed-All Progressives Congress (R-APC), into the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may leave the opposition party factionalised again, if the leadership of the party fails to address mounting grievances to the planned return of some former chieftains of the PDP to some states chapters across the country.
The former ruling party, which became factionalised after it lost the 2015 presidential election, managed to pull through the storm after the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the then Ahmed Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee. It later held a National Convention on December 9, 2017, which produced the current leadership under Uche Secondus.
A source who spoke with our correspondent disclosed that many chieftains of the party in some state chapters, are uncomfortable with some of the reported concessions offered members of the R-APC as part of the defection plan. According to findings by The Nation, not a few PDP chieftains in the affected states have vowed to resist alleged plans to hand over some state chapters of the party to leaders of the R-APC.
“We also hear of plans that will see R-APC leaders produce the gubernatorial and some other candidates of the PDP in our states unilaterally. We view that as a plot to impose the candidate on those of us who have been loyal and faithful to the PDP when these same people decimated and abandoned the party before, during and after the 2015 general elections. We will resist such moves,’ a party leader in Kwara South senatorial district,” said.
The Nation also gathered that contrary to reports that aggrieved party leaders in the affected states may have made up their minds to dump the PDP and move to other parties should R-APC chieftains join the PDP in their respective states, there is an ongoing effort to form a broad coalition within the party across some state with the intention of staying put in the PDP to resist the coming R-APC chieftains.
“It is not totally correct that we will leave the party for them and move out en masse. Of course, there are those who have announced the threat to quit the PDP if Senate President Bukola Saraki and his people return to the party here in Kwara State. Those are largely people who came to join us in the PDP. For those of us who had never left the PDP, we will go nowhere, yet we will not accept the leadership of these returnees.
“You cannot expect the likes of Chief Sunday Oyebiyi, Mallam Isowo Mustapha or even Ashaolu Gabriel, to leave the PDP for Saraki. These are people who laboured to rebuild the party after the former governor and his political family abandoned it in 2014. Or is it Akogun Iyiola Oyedepo that will vacate his position as party leader for someone else from Saraki’s camp?”
Oyedepo had recently paid a visit to the national secretariat of the PDP in Abuja to inform the national leadership of alleged plan by Saraki, to return to the PDP. He advised the party leaders not to allow the Senate president to take over the structure of the party from the newly elected state PDP leaders. Similarly, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, who was one-time governorship aspirant of the party in the state, said that the Senate President was not welcomed in the party.
He also said genuine PDP members would not be pleased if positions and offices in the state chapter of the party are conceded to Saraki if he returns to the party. According to him, those agitating for Saraki’s return to PDP in the state have very little understanding of the dynamics of Kwara politics today. The PDP chieftain said the dynamics within the opposition party have since changed.
Another party source added that contrary to insinuations within the Senate President’s camp, it is not true that all PDP chieftains in the political camp led by Prince Sunday Fagbemi and Alhaji Ganiyu Alawo, are willing to accept the leadership of the Saraki group. “I want to tell you that some people from that political group are with us in this decision to stay in the PDP and reject Saraki’s overlordship,” he claimed.
“Those negotiating the return of these people must be conversant with the demand of genuine PDP leaders and stakeholders in each of the affected states, otherwise, we may find a fresh and more serious crisis on our hand sooner than we expected. We must not do anything that will return us to the era of having two PDP state leadership in some state. I can speak for us in Kwara and I am telling you, we will not leave for Saraki and we will not accept his leadership,” our source said.
Another PDP chieftain from Kogi State, who confirmed that genuine PDP members across the north-central zone have been meeting to discuss the dangers posed by the ongoing defection plans, warned that the opposition party may lose more than it will gain from the defection arrangement. He said that the idea of giving sweeping concessions to the R-APC members as conditions for their joining the PDP was an indication that the PDP was still promoting impunity, lack of internal democracy and had not learned from its past mistakes.
“We are not planning to leave the PDP for anybody in Kogi State. We have made it clear that we will not allow any form of imposition anywhere in the state. Whoever is willing to come and join us is welcome but we are not a party to any form of concession. Our leaders are resolute in this position and we are with them. Our chieftains in Kogi West have said Senator Dino Malaye is not going to get an automatic ticket and we agree with them.
“Here in the Northcentral, we will welcome defectors but we will not submit the leadership of the party in the zone to them. We are meeting to discuss this and our resolution is that PDP will not be pocketed by any individual ever again. We urge the national leadership to take this into cognizance as they negotiate the return of these aggrieved APC chieftains across the states in the zone.
“From Kwara to Benue and here in Kogi, we are warning against imposition. We are more concerned because our zone is the most threatened by this development. We have passed this road before and we know the antics of some of these returnees. When people return to a party they once abandoned, and because they have the governor in their group, they want to take over the entire party and impose candidates. That will not be allowed to happen,” he warned.