APC: nPDP suspends talks with Presidency

The conciliatory talks involving members of the aggrieved new Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP), the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the presidency suffered a major setback yesterday.

A meeting slated for yesterday with a smaller group of eight could not hold as the chairman of the nPDP, Alhaji Abubakar Baraje, issued a statement saying his group was putting its participation in the talks on hold.

He cited what he described as the persecution of Senate President Bukola Saraki and the misrepresentation of their position as some of the reasons behind their decision.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo would have led the presidency/APC team that included the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and APC’s Deputy National Chairman, North, Sen. Lawali Shuaibu.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, had also been nominated to lead the nPDP team that included Baraje and Senators Barnabas Gemade, Danjuma Goje and Adamu Aliero from Benue, Gombe and Kebbi states respectively to the aborted meeting.

Baraje said, “while we are truly and earnestly committed to achieving reconciliation, harmony, truce and cohesion in the APC as we approach the 2019 general elections, it appears that the Presidency is not interested in the talks and that they may have been negotiating in bad faith.

“We were alarmed that immediately after our meeting with the Vice President last week, the presidency misrepresented what transpired at the meeting by trying to blackmail some of the principal actors involved in the discussions in a national daily.

“Similarly, the leadership of the party (APC) went ahead to ratify all the Congresses from ward, local governments, states and zones where many of our members have complaints, effectively presenting us with a fait accompli.”

‘Members of nPDP still being persecuted’

The statement added, “The persecution of our members using state security apparatus have continued unabated. We recognize the powers of the Police to conduct criminal investigations but by rushing to the public with the issue even when they have unfettered access to the leadership of the National Assembly suggests an attempt to undermine, caricature and humiliate the institution of the legislature.

“It appears that there is a fouled and toxic atmosphere and environment of intimidation and threat to life in which we now find ourselves which may no longer be conducive for members of the former nPDP to continue with the talks. Given the unfolding events in the last 24 hours, where the President of the Senate, His Excellency, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki and His Excellency, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, the Executive Governor of Kwara State, both of whom attended the meeting with the Vice President on Monday 28 May, 2018, have suddenly been accused of sponsoring armed robbery by the Police under the directives of the Presidency.

“Similarly, on Saturday, June 2nd, 2018, the Department of State Services (DSS) also suddenly withdrew more than half of all the security details attached to the presiding officers of the National Assembly under questionable circumstances. The nPDP leadership has decided to brief our members on the unfortunate development and get a fresh mandate if good faith returns to the discussions,” the statement said.

Badaru visits Saraki, Dogara

Daily Trust learnt that the decision of the nPDP members to have another meeting before coming up with a final position was coming on the heels of a visit by the chairman of the APC National Convention Committee and Jigawa State governor, Abubakar Badaru, to both Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara.

The separate meetings with the two National Assembly leaders lasted for about an hour each.

Badaru told journalists after his meeting with Dogara that they went to inform the speaker on their activities so far.

‘APC to extend fresh overtures to nPDP’

When contacted, the APC National Publicity Secretary, Malam Bolaji Abdullahi, said that he could not comment on the development since he was not part of the talks.

“Well, I cannot comment on it. I’m not a party to the discussion. And I have not been briefed by the member representing us in the discussion. The member representing us in the discussion is Sen. Lawali Shuaibu,” Abdullahi said.     

But another APC official said fresh overtures would be extended to the nPDP members.

“We read what they said in the statement but there are two issues here: politics and security. They are APC members who felt aggrieved and they have the right to be heard. But that said, there is no way the party or the presidency could stop the police from doing its work simply because we want to reconcile with some people. Again, every member of the party is important, some of the demands of the nPDP members are just not tenable but we must find a meeting point if really they meant well for the party,” he said.

Another source said everyone was aware that the spirit of nPDP members had long left the APC.

“They have been looking for a trigger to do the worst, which is to leave the party. Initially they thought the party will not invite them and we did; then they expected that the presidency will also not grant them audience and it deed…I think they felt they would frustrate the process since we kept tolerating them. Nobody will stop them from leaving the same way the APC is receiving hundreds of new members every day. We would wish them well in the event they decide to leave,” he said.

Yesterday’s cancelled meeting was expected to look into the specific demands of the nPDP as contained in their April 27, 2018 letter in which they accused the federal government of short-changing them in terms of appointments into boards of agencies and parastatals.

The botched dialogue was in continuation of two previous meetings held with nPDP members that had earlier issued a 7-day ultimatum to see President Muhammadu Buhari for a resolution.

Protest as Oyegun inaugurates state APC chairmen

Meanwhile, protesters besieged the national secretariat of the APC yesterday to complain against the swearing in of some of the newly-elected state party chairmen, especially in states where parallel congresses held.

The police stationed at the APC headquarters had to use teargas to disperse the protesters. Only the state chairmen were allowed to enter the venue of the inauguration ceremony as part of measures to forestall security breach.

Consequently, the communication minister Barrister Adebayo Shittu and his women affairs counterpart Hajiya Aisha Alhassan were not allowed to enter because they were not officially invited.

The communication minister went to the inauguration venue with seven federal lawmakers, including Sen. Monsurat Sunmonu.

Also, supporters of Imo State chairman were singing and dancing for dislodging Governor Rochas Okorocha, following the swearing in of Hilary Eke as the authentic chairman.

Meanwhile, the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, while inaugurating the newly-elected State party chairmen, called for compromise among party stakeholders.

He said there is need for quick reconciliation especially in Rivers, Taraba, Oyo, Delta, Lagos and others, adding that he will set up a committee to study the situations in contentious states.