nPDP Rift Worsens As Baraje Bloc Insists On Ultimatum
The division in the defunct New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) took a deeper crisis dimension yesterday, with the Alhaji Kawu Baraje-led faction of the power bloc within the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) describing the Senator Abdullahi Adamu-led faction as noise makers. The Baraje-led nPDP also told President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the party that it would be at their own peril to ignore the letter containing their ultimatum for talks on the way forward. The group said they were yet to receive any information from either the presidency or the party in response to their letter. The splinter group disclosed that it will be meeting in the next few days to decide on the next line of action, which it said will be in the best interest of Nigeria and democracy in the country. Spokesman of the group, Comrade Timi Frank, who made the group’s position known while speaking with journalists in Abuja yesterday, was reacting to Monday’s counter letter taken to the leadership of the party by the Senator Adamu-led faction of the nPDP. Frank said the Baraje-led faction was not surprised at the decision of Senator Adamu and his group to oppose their letter to the party, saying the Senator is known to have supported the late General Sani Abacha’s bid to succeed himself as well as former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s third term bid. He dismissed the existence of a faction within the group, saying over 95 per cent of members of the group have given their leader, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, the right to speak on their behalf. He added that Senator Abdullahi Adamu only joined them in the new PDP when it became obvious to him that they were merging with the APC. Reminding the party that the same steps being taken in APC to mend fences were taken by them while in the PDP, but were ignored, he stressed that the singular mistake of ignoring them was responsible for the exit of the Jonathan government and the coming into power of the APC. Frank said, “I want to use this opportunity to remind my party that this is same way we were trying to correct the wrongs of the Jonathan government while in the PDP, but they never listened to us. We told them why we were aggrieved. Our leaders moved round the states to talk to party members, to ask the government at that time to listen to our views, but at the end of the day, they refused. They ignored us and that is how we left. “When we left, we joined the APC and that was how today, we are enjoying this so called change agenda we are talking about. So, if today 95 per cent of us who came from the new PDP are aggrieved and they feel they are going to undermine us, or they are going to ignore our group, so be it. “But at the end of the day, we believe we are going to take a decision that will benefit the Nigerian people because we believe that democracy should be all inclusive. Democracy should not be a situation where when you speak the truth, you will be harassed or intimidated. “Today, everyone that is being harassed within the APC came from the new PDP. We have not seen anybody from the ACN or the CPC or the ANPP or the section of APGA that join us being intimidated or harassed. It is clear. So, we are not going to be intimidated. “We believe we are going to be doing the right thing. We believe we are going to do everything possible to rescue Nigeria the same way we rescued Nigeria from the PDP. So, if today, we decided to lay our complaints to the party and they feel it is not important for them to attend to our issues, we will leave them to God. God will someday judge”. While insisting that there is no faction within the nPDP, Frank who is the deputy national publicity secretary of the APC said, “I am here to clarify issues and debunk some of the lies from some of our members led by Senator Abdullahi Adamu and Hon Abdulmumin Jibrin who were in my party secretariat yesterday to oppose the view of the majority; to oppose what our leaders have said. “The chairman of our group, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, was at the secretariat to submit a letter informing the party of our grievances as the new PDP that joined the merger that brought the APC into power. “In all of these, I want to make it very clear that we have no faction in our group. I saw in some of the papers that there is crack in the new PDP. There is no crack as far as we are concerned. We only have one group; we have only one leader and that leader remains only Alhaji Kawu Baraje and I can tell you that clearly without fear or favour. “I want to make it known to all of you that Alhaji Kawu Baraje is not alone in that letter. He has the mandate of over 95% of some of us that joined the new PDP with the APC and made new victories successful in 2015.” He emphasised that the participation of the new PDP in the affairs of the APC was responsible for the victory of the party in the 2015 general election. Frank said, “Everybody knows that it was because of our participation to join the APC that practically brought the victory we are all enjoying today. So, when people like Senator Abdullahi Adamu who used to be one of us came up with some of his positions yesterday, he must have forgotten history and I want to make it known to you that whatever they have said to counter our move are total lies. “Nigerians are there to testify. They said the new PDP group has benefitted massively from this government. That is one of their claims, which is not true. But I want to make it very clear that we are not here to respond to individuals; we are here to make it known that our letter is to the party. So, it is left for the party to either take it seriously or not. But I believe any serious party will take whatever position or decision we have brought for them to look into. “Today makes it seven days from the day our group brought this letter to the party. But as it stands, we have not gotten any response yet from them. As we have said, whatever we must have said in that letter is not an empty threat. If they decide to ignore us, so be it. “But at the appropriate time, we are going to respond and make our position known to Nigerians based on what we have said. It is not just a mere threat; it is not just a mere ultimatum. But I will tell you clearly that we are meeting with our leaders and we are going to come up with a clear position on our next step if finally they don’t attend to us”. On the claim by the Senator Adamu led group that they have benefitted from the government, he said, “I want go back to some of the benefits that they said our group has benefitted. The Senator and Jibrin said yesterday that we benefited by getting the office of the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, some senators, governors and so on. For God’s sake, these are elected positions. “Nigerians are aware of how we succeeded in getting the Senate President and the Speaker from the new PDP. They were not supported by our party, neither were they supported by the executive arm of government. We managed to get these two positions by the grace of God and by the support of Nigerian people. “We also got those position through the support of Senators and members of the House of Representatives who believed and had confidence in the leadership of Senator Bukola Saraki and Hon Yakubu Dogara and chose to stand by these two people because they believed these two people will take the party and Nigerians to the promise land. “So far so good, we are very happy with them. They have done very well despite challenges and the circumstances and hurdles they passed through and they are still passing through till today. “So, nobody should give credit to neither the party nor anybody to say that they gave us anything from the new PDP. We fought to get these two positions, and the Senators, governors and others they talk about were elected from their various states. “The only two beneficiaries in our group are Rotimi Ameachi who finally became Minister of Transportation and Senator Aisha Alhassan who is the Minister of Women Affairs. These are the two people we can remember. So, I want to make it very clear that we are not going to be intimidated by anybody as long as the Nigerian people are happy with us”. You Can’t Stop PMB From Winning In 2019, el-Rufai Tells nPDP Meanwhile, amid insinuations that some members of the defunct new PDP within the All Progressive Congress are planning to defect, Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, said yesterday that their defection will not affect President Muhammadu Buhari ‘s chances in 2019. Speaking to State House correspondents yesterday at the presidential villa, el-Rufai hinged his argument on the premise that since 2003, the president had always won Kwara, Kano, Adamawa and Sokoto states, which are considered strongholds of the new PDP. He, however, noted that since politics is a game of addition and not subtraction, the APC should look into the grievances of the new PDP members. He contended: “I don’t agree and I want to go back to 2003. What are we talking about? Who are these new PDP people that are threatening? This is Kwara, Kano, Sokoto, Adamawa, Rivers but I don’t think Amaechi is part of them. “So, let’s take these four states, go back to 2003 and check. Buhari then under ANPP won in all these four states. Go back to 2007, Buhari won in these four states. Even when Shekarau was running as a presidential candidate in 2011, Buhari defeated him in Kano. “And I have no doubt in my mind that even if the people threatening to leave decide to go, it will have absolutely no impact on the presidential election. The president will win Sokoto, Kwara and Adamawa easily. Kano is already in the bag. I mean if you saw the crowd that welcomed the president without the former governor Kwankwaso, Kano has always been the president’s base. “To me that is not the issue, the issue is that they have written; they have expressed grievances; some of the grievances are legitimate and should be looked into. But to threaten to leave the party is neither here nor there. If they are honest with themselves they know that President Buhari will win those states with or without them. “But if you have a grievance, we are a party and politics is a game of addition not subtraction. We don’t want to lose anyone. So, I think those that the letters were addressed toshould study it and look into what is reasonably possible to accommodate them because politics, as I said, is a game of addition”. LEADERSHIP recalls that members of the new PDP wing of the coalition that formed the APC had alleged that the alliance has not favoured them since 2015. They claimed that both the party and President Buhari have sidelined the new PDP members. They demanded an urgent meeting within seven days, which expired yesterday, to work out modalities to ensure a level playing field for all in the congresses and convention of the APC. The members, led by former national chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, issued a seven- day ultimatum to the leadership of the party to arrange a meeting with the leader of the party and the party executive to resolve the issues raised. Governor el-Rufai also disclosed that Kaduna State spent N4 billion to procure the electronic voting machines used in last weekend’s local government elections, noting that the state saved N1.7 billion in ballot papers alone. He said, “The independent electoral commission of Kaduna State brought in 300 of the machines and spent some months going round the state, market places, people’s homes to test the use of the machines to show that ordinary people can use it. It cost us a lot of money; the entire election cost us in the region of N4 billion. “But, mind you with the electronic voting now we don’t need ballot paper. So, we saved N1.7 billion in ballot papers alone. And these machines can be used for three or four more elections because they can last for 10 years. All we need is to upgrade the software to add more parties and so on”.