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2019: Defection fever grips APC, PDP

…PDP defers action on defectors, name change
…NASS leadership status ‘ll soon change, say Akpabio
…APC won’t negotiate with permanent political mercenaries – Oshiomhole
…Says he’s not losing sleep over breakaway rAPC
…13 Benue PDP governorship aspirants reject Gov Ortom’s return
…Ajimobi, Reps, Alao-Akala others meet to resolve Oyo APC crisis
In a situation that portrays desperation and infamous act to get party ticket at all cost, politicians from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are in a rat-race for defection from both camps.

Initially, it was like a joke but now that the submission of party candidates for the 2019 general election draws nearer, the tempo of highwire politics in the APC and the PDP has begun.

The Daily Times recalls that similar situation occurred in 2014 when some prominent leaders of the then ruling party-PDP- including five governors and Senator Bukola Saraki left PDP to join the APC, Adams Oshiomhole’s led APC is now battling with same scenario as the watchword amongst politicians is defection.

The expected mass defection of members of the ruling APC this week Thursday may change the status quo of party leadership in the National Assembly.

This indication emerged on Monday at the emergency meeting of the National Executive Committee of the PDP at its national secretariat, Abuja.

Both the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio and acting Minority Leader, House of Representatives, Hon. Chukwuka Onyema, gave the indication in their comments at the meeting.

Akpabio while commending the leadership of the party for taking PDP out of the doldrum, said that Uche Secondus’ led National Working Committee was leading the party to become the majority in both houses of the National Assembly very soon.

He said: “Just as my brother in the House has just said, the nomenclature in the National Assembly will soon change and PDP will be named the majority”.

Hon. Onyema jokingly said: “When I was being introduced, I was introduced as acting minority leader, but I want to assure you that this soon change. We are taking over leadership of the National Assembly”.

The NEC as well expelled Senator Buruji Kashamu, Hon. Segun Seriki, Engr. Dayo Adebayo and Mr. Semiu Shodipi, all of the Ogun State chapter from the PDP for anti- party activities.

The senator representing Ogun East senatorial district and others were accused of hobnobbing with the APC, and untoward attitude which the PDP decided not to condone.

Also, the party said it is still tinkering with the possibility of changing its name as a harmonisation committee set up for that purpose was yet to submit its report as at Monday.

The spokesman of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said that if the committee finds it convenient as part of the rebranding process of the party and if it is in tune with the clause of agreement with other parties, the committee may recommend a change of name.

“As a matter of fact, based on the workings of the PDP, r-APC and others working with us, the report will be made known as soon as possible,” he said.

The chairman, Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Walid Jibrin, has advised leadership of the party to stick to the letters of agreement reached with 38 other political parties in a grand coalition to unseat the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2019.

He urged the National Executive Council of PDP to ensure perfection of the agreement with other stakeholders to put the party in better stead in the scheme of things for 2019 while he expressed optimism that the factionalised r-APC is joining PDP shortly.

While he called for caution in handling terms of agreement, he as well cautioned against implosion and reneging on agreements made.

Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said that the coalition agreement was intact and open to fine -tuning, adding that the party’s door is still open to any politician to join force with the PDP to evict APC from power.

He appreciated the NWC for rebuilding the party.

In his opening remark, the PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, said it is obvious that the party will challenge the results of the recent Ekiti governorship election.

He said infractions and collaboration of the ruling APC and state institutions like INEC. DSS, the Police in election malpractices and falsification of results at policing centres and collation centres would not go unchallenged.

Buttressing this position, Kola Ologbondiyan said “NEC approved the decision of NWC to go to court. The legal committee of the party led by the National Legal Adviser has been asked to take necessary step to approach the court”.

Coroborating the opposition party’s claims, the Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Chukwudi Onyema, on Monday, predicted that he will soon become the House leader in a few days.

Onyema said this before the commencement of the emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the party’s secretariat in Abuja.

He said the PDP House caucus has remained steadfast and will no longer be referred to as the minority. The All Progressives Congress (APC) currently has the majority in the House.

“Hopefully by our next meeting, we’ll have a change of nomenclature,” Onyema said.

The PDP is expecting some lawmakers belonging to the R-APC to defect and swell its ranks in both chambers of the National Assembly.

The group, comprising aggrieved members of the ruling party have formed a coalition with the PDP and 38 other political parties to defeat the ruling APC ahead of the 2019 general polls.

But Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has reiterated that he was not losing sleep over the breakaway Reformed-APC faction.

The former Edo governor said he has defeated powerful godfathers, stressing that “I will not miss my sleep because a lot of these guys cannot on a good day deliver their unit”.

Oshiomhole said this in reaction to a statement by the PDP that he is licking his vomit after his ‘no loss of sleep’ comment.

The PDP had said the APC chairman was making moves to woo the members of R-APC back into the ruling party.

But speaking on Monday after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, Oshiomhole said: “You have seen me. Do I look like I’m losing sleep?”

The former president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said he is willing to “negotiate and persuade” but does not deal with “permanent political mercenaries”.

Oshiomhole further said: “No, I am not losing sleep. I am sleeping very well. I still maintain that I don’t see any man of honour, who with his eyes open left PDP on the account of their gross mismanagement, abuse of the treasury and all of the crimes that the PDP committed, I don’t see them whatever their irritations.

“That cannot be a justification to return to a house that all we need to do is to play back their own tape about what PDP represents and why they left.

“I still hold the view that you can’t vomit in the morning and convert it to lunch in the afternoon if you have honour. And that position still remains the same. Number two is that yes, I have made this point clear that we can distinguish the mercenaries from those who genuinely have complaints.

“Our business as party leaders is to try and manage, listen and find solutions to those who have verifiable complaints. But those who are permanent mercenaries and are in this business for personal reasons, there is not much we can do about that and we are not going to change the core values of the party in order to retain them.

“So, let me restate, we remain committed and I have said so from the word go in my acceptance speech when I was elected that we acknowledge the fact that there are people with genuine complains. For such people, we are ready to listen. We are ready to act on the basis of justice, fairness, no arrogance and inclusion. I remain committed to those.

“However, on principle, I do not deal with political mercenaries; that remains my position. I will not miss my sleep because a lot of these guys cannot on a good day deliver their units.

And we have the records that tell us who won elections and where. And I am a tested fighter, I fought them in Edo from zero – zero and I overcame their most powerful godfathers.

So, I know what I am talking about, I speak from experience and I will talk, negotiate and persuade but there are core principles that are not negotiable.”

Meanwhile, 13 governorship aspirants on the platform of the PDP in Benue State have kicked against the possible return of Governor Samuel Ortom to the party.

They decried his return, saying it will be counter-productive as he is likely to destabilise the existing peace in the party.

While they were not against the return of defectors, the aspirants were against the defection of people with negative values and little mileage to the party.

Addressing a press conference on Monday in Abuja under the auspices of Forum of Governorship Aspirants, they vowed to resist any attempt to truncate the internal democratic process that has characterised the Benue State chapter of the party in the past few years,

They suggested that if the PDP is to take the state from the ruling APC , effort must be intensified to nip in the bud, what they termed the plot to shortchange the party’s executive in the state.

One of the aspirants, John Tondu, argued that though politics is a game of numbers, the governor, he said, has no electoral value to make the PDP the party to beat.

“The governor of Benue State today is a liability, not an asset. He is not welcome.

“Because of the love we have for the people of Benue State, anything that will cripple our plan to take over the state should not be tolerated”, he said.

Also, Dr. Terhemen Tarzoor, the state PDP governorship candidate in the 2015 governorship election, said Governor Ortom’s credibility has reached an all-time low, having been shown the ‘red card’ by the APC.

“We are sensitive to the value and character of the people joining the PDP. We won’t sit down and watch people of negative value join the party; someone who has not paid salaries for one year and four months.

“When a person is chased out of a party, it speaks much about that person and what he represents, “Tarzoor added.

Chairman of the forum, Prof David Ker, in his speech, tasked the state chapter of the party to walk in fidelity with its promise of a free and fair primaries, noting that anything short of that would spell doom for the PDP.

“We reiterate that a level playing field for a free, fair and transparent primary election which has been promised us by the Benue State leadership of the PDP remains the only option by which the party could credibly and successfully nominate a governorship candidate in the 2019 governorship election if indeed the party is serious at recapturing power from the present APC-controlled government in the state.

“While we may not oppose any group or individuals from joining and participating in the affairs of the party in the state, we are strongly opposed to a purported unilateral decision to dissolve the executives of the party at all levels in the state to accommodate or give undue advantage to any group or person angling to join the party.”

He warned that any form of imposition would be resisted by all the thirteen governorship aspirants in the state.

In another development, Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi has hinted that the crisis within the ruling All Progressives Congress in the state is nearing resolution, with the splinter groups said to be closing ranks with the mainstream.

The governor stated this while addressing journalists after a statewide party leaders’ meeting, which was held at the APC state secretariat, Oke-Ado, Ibadan, on Monday.

The three-hour meeting was also attended by the state Deputy Governor, Chief Moses Adeyemo; Speaker of the House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Olagunju Ojo; a former Governor, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala and a former Deputy Governor, Chief Iyiola Oladokun.

Also at the meeting were members of the House of Representatives: Hakeem Adeyemi, Saheed Fijabi, Dada Awoleye, Gbenga Ayoade and Segun Odebunmi, as well as other APC leaders, led by the State Chairman, Chief Akin Oke.

The governor said that the meeting was called to evaluate the level of success recorded so far in reconciling the aggrieved members, who had earlier formed splinter groups, back to the party’s mainstream.

Ajimobi expressed delight in what he called the high level of progress in the reconciliation move, adding that seventy-five per cent of those that left the party had so far been brought back into the fold.

The Governor said: “The meeting is about reconciliation. It is about talking with our leaders and about party politics generally. There will always be grievances. There will always be conflict.

“But, in politics, like in all human endeavours, there is bound to be conflicts and resolutions and we will continue to have that. That is why we are making spirited effort to be on the same page.

“We have achieved about 75 per cent level of resolution and some people are already coming back. Some are aggrieved, rightly so; some are aggrieved wrongly so.

“But, the most important thing is to appreciate that in all human endeavours, there is bound to be conflicts and there is bound to be resolutions. As leaders, we must continue to accommodate, to give and take; but there will not be winner takes all.

“All the same, there are those, no matter what you do, who will not reconcile. They are irreconcilable and there are those that, with little efforts, we will reconcile with. So we are ready for reconciliation. The process is ongoing.”

In a separate interview, the party’s Director of Publicity, Dr. Azeez Olatunde, said that the reconciliation committee set up by the governor after the party’s congresses had submitted its reports to the meeting.

He said that the position of the estranged members of the party have been taken, with assurance from the party’s leaders to look into them in the spirit of give and take.

Olatunde said: “The recommendation of the reconciliation committee was accepted, while the demands of the aggrieved members have been taken. The leaders have promised to look into them for imminent resolution.”

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Ihesiulo Grace

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