The governing All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday owned up to the notion that there is indeed a crack within its fold.
Specifically, the party admitted that all the grievances expressed by leaders of the defunct new People Democratic Party (nPDP) were genuine.
This was the outcome of yesterday’s meeting between the national leadership of the APC and members of the Abubakar Kawu Baraje-led faction of the nPDP
The Baraje-led nPDP had a fortnight ago stormed the party’s national headquarters in Abuja where it demanded an urgent meeting with the leadership of the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari “within seven days” to address grievances, including alleged marginalization of its members.
The nPDP submitted a four-page letter alleging that its members have been badly treated, sidelined and persecuted.
Despite effort by a splinter group within the nPDP led by Senator Abdullahi Adamu to stop the party leadership from addressing the issues raised by the Baraje faction, the APC leaders met with the power bloc yesterday.
After the meeting, which held at the national secretariat of the APC, the party revealed that a meeting between party leaders and the presidency geared towards addressing the myriad of issues raised by the faction is underway.
On his part, leader of the group, Baraje, dispelled insinuation that they were planning to ditch the APC for opposition party.
Speaking after an hour of closed-door deliberations, the party’s deputy national chairman, Senator Shuaibu Lawal, who led other members of the National Working Committee (NWC) members to the meeting, said the party was taking up the disaffections seriously.
Senator Shuaibu who stood in for the national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, said, “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.”
On his part, leader of the nPDP, Baraje described yesterday’s meeting with the APC leadership as a good start and a good beginning.
Asked whether he was satisfied with responses his group got from the closed meeting, Baraje said, “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.
“As you are aware that 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 have 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, and we have only come home to discuss those observations we copied you people when we wrote in our letter. The meeting was very beautiful.”
On the allegation raised by Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led faction of the nPDP, Baraje said he was not ready to respond to such an issue because a member of his group had responded.
He said, “I am not ready to do that because somebody had earlier responded to them adequately. I think the former Youth Leader of the defunct nPDP, Timi Frank, 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 they 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”.
Oshiomhole Visits Kalu, Says APC Not All-comers Affair
Meanwhile, former governor of Edo state and a contender for the national chairmanship position of the governing APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, said yesterday that despite the party’s membership drive, the APC must not be an all-comers affair.
Speaking when he visited former Abia state governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, at his Abuja office, he said as a party, the APC should be able to tell some people whose belief run counter to the ideals of the party to look elsewhere for memberhip of a political party.
The former labour leader further said that the party must critically look at the intending defectors and their antecedents before admitting them to the party, stressing that the party should only admit people who share its ideology especially those who will add any value to it.
Oshiomhole who expressed concern over the continued feud between the executive and legislative arms of government also said that the party cannot afford to be an onlooker in the current rift between both arms of government.
According to him, the responsibility of a political party goes beyond providing a platform for elections.
He said the APC should monitor the conduct of its members as well as how elected representatives of the people are keeping faith with the manifesto of the party.
Oshiomhole said, “We are in our critical position in our country and over the next couple of months, the political environment will be heated up when all the aspirants and candidates would have emerged and our party is expected to, as the governing party, lead by example.
“I believe that after the historic amalgamation of the four and half parties that now form the APC, it is enough for us to have welded into a party and provide the kind of leadership that Nigerians expected from a political party that is based on the principle of social democracy, which was why we carefully chose the name Progressives.
“It is not a secret that we have our own fare share of internal challenges. I believe that there is nothing wrong in parties having internal challenges, but what matters is a leadership that has the capacity to manage those challenges and encourage internal democracy and evolve a style of leadership that is based on inclusion rather than exclusion”.
Oshiomhole further noted that the APC must strengthen the process of bottom approach to decision making so as to ensure all inclusiveness in the process of making decisions.
He continued: “The organs of the party must be made to function. When organs of the party are not functioning, then we are just a collection of individuals. It is my hope that we move beyond creating a platform that is simply there for election purpose, just like a public taxi.
“It should also be a platform to continue to engage all those who are elected on the platform of the party and ensure that what they do and how they do it is in line with the manifesto and the core values that bind the party together.
“A political party ought to be governed by a set of values and unless you subscribe to those values, you are not supposed to be a member. I think it is the duty of a political party leadership to monitor the activities of government and the various organs and where there are disagreements, you intervene in a way that will provide solution”.
Noting that the party cannot be a spectator in the faceoff between the executive and the legislature, Oshiomhole hailed Kalu for staying true to his dreams, both in business and in politics.
On his part, Kalu promised to support the chairmanship aspirant for as long as he continues to remain on the same page with President Muhammadu Buhari.
The former Abia governor who expressed optimism that there will not be any rancour after the party’s convention urged Oshiomhole to remain a statesman and ensure that party leaders whom he would be succeeding are treated with respect while out of office.
He said, “We are in the journey together where President Muhammadu Buhari will offer himself to Nigerians to re-contest in the next few months. It is a long journey. You have us as the leader of the party in Abia. Personally, I will support you. You are a strong candidate.
“Be assured of our prayers and as long as you support our president, I will support you. If you don’t support our president, I will not support you. There will be other candidates, but we pray that you succeed”.
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