Former military Head of State, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, and former Lagos State Governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, yesterday met in Kaduna to strategise on the possible defection of some Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governors to the All Progressive Congress, APC.
Tinubu told journalists after the closed-door meeting held at Buhari’s residence in Kaduna that strategy to woo PDP governors was in top gear. Reliable sources at the meeting said the APC leaders were catching on the crisis rocking the PDP and had begun talks with some of the aggrieved governors.
“The meeting centred on the merger. It is part of the confidence-building process. The need to have some of the PDP governors in our fold was extensively discussed.
The meeting was extremely successful,” a source at the meeting said. National Mirror learnt that the duo agreed to personally engage some of the governors, particularly those from the North on the need to join APC.
Ten opposition governors in the newly-formed APC have provided shield for the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, Rotimi Amaechi, in his face-off with President Goodluck Jonathan as part of the plot to strengthen the opposition’s camp.
The source added that some of the PDP governors were already in talks with the leadership of APC. But the National Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Bamanga Tukur, said the plot by the APC against the ruling party would fail in 2015.
Tukur also confirmed speculations that PDP governors had been giving him and the Presidency sleepless nights as a result of their combative attitude.
He said with the election of Governor Godswill Akpabio as the Chairman, PDP Governors’ Forum and Chief Tony Anenih as chairman, PDP Board of Trustees, President Goodluck Jonathan could now sleep with his two eyes closed.
“Now I can sleep very well because I know behind, in form of leadership of PDP Governors’ Forum, they are for us. I can tell President Jonathan, if he was sleeping few hours in the night because he does not know how the party is going, he can now go and have siesta,” he said. Anenih also described the APC as a “weak block” that poses no threat to the dominance of the PDP in 2015 elections.
Anenih said: “The merger called APC is not a threat to PDP. We never had a strong opposition, let’s see how strong APC will be and there will be many opposition.
“If you are building a house and you find out that the block you laid yesterday is weak then you go to the same block maker to buy two or three more weak blocks to add to the one that was very weak.
They remain weak; it doesn’t matter whether you are buying more blocks of the same strength, sooner or later the building will collapse,” he added.
The national leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, said the meeting was also aimed at making APC to remain strong. Yesterday’s meeting of two major opposition leaders, which lasted for hours, was third in a series since the merger arrangement last year.
Assuring Nigerians that the merger would work this time round, Tinubu averred that APC was not about Buhari or himself but to rescue the country from imminent collapse under PDP rule.
The former governor added that insecurity, unemployment and massive corruption would end if APC was ushered into power in 2015.
He said: “Wooing some PDP governors to APC, if that is a strategy on our part should I tell you? The fact remains that we must talk to everybody and must woo them. If Bamanga Tukur is interested, let him look through; we will invite him and talk to him.
“APC is a party to stay with, work with and to share the vision of eliminating corruption, ineptitude in governance and lack of employment for our people. “If you are threatened by lack of security, enter an APC, if you have migraine or persistent headache, use APC.
“I am here just to consult with General Buhari on the new APC that has come to be; looking at the various other options for a ‘one man one vote’ in the country.
“The merger will definitely work out this time around. I have been very consistent about it; it is only through strong determination and commitment and the sacrifice of the people; it is not only about us or an individual.
You have a lot of speculations going on this time around, they have even chosen our presidential candidate for us and all of that, to determine all the sorts of things that we do… “But that is the story of people who are already afraid and scared of the unity of purpose that is coming up in the country.
“In essence, we are all committed to democratic principles and values for this country, and to rescue the nation, united body, ready to rescue the nation, one mission, vision, one single commitment to alleviate the problems of the masses.” On his part, Buhari said that his claim that PDP merged with government agencies ahead of 2015 was factual.
He said: “If they are going to counter me, go and study the three judicial or Supreme Court judgements of 2003, 2007 and 2011 and get the hearing on NNPC pension scheme and whatever I said is factual.” Tukur also lambasted the opposition parties, saying many of them are being run like a cult.
Speaking while some PDP governors paid him visit at the party’s headquarters in Abuja, Tukur predicted a two-party system comprising of the PDP and the APC for 2015 general elections.
He also said that the election of Chief Tony Anenih as the chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) and the emergence of Governor Godswill Akpabio as the Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, means that the party is now repackaged and ready for the opposition political parties in the 2015 elections.
Tukur said that with the plans by the opposition political parties to merge into APC, Nigeria is gradually drifting into a two-party system that would contest the 2015 general elections. Speaking on the implication of the emergence of Anenih as PDP BoT Chairman and Akpabio as the chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum, Tukur said: “It then means that the PDP is a repackaged political party to really face all the challenges ahead of the party as the 2015 draws nearer.
“With a repackaged PDP as you can now see, the implication is that it will enable us mobilising our members ahead of the 2015 general elections and face elections and win.
“Most of the people in APC now are original members of the PDP and I can assure that we have commenced talks to bring them back to where they originally belong, which is the PDP. They are coming back, because some of them have told me that their aspirations may not be met in the APC because of the burning ambitions of some individual members.
“They don’t want a party that is being run like a cult. They are gradually commencing a return to the PDP, because the PDP is the only national party in Nigeria. Three of us (Tukur, Akpabio and Anenih) will put our heads together and make PDP move ahead and remain formidable to face the opposition party called the APC.”
Also, Akpabio declared that the party will soon commence the cleansing of Judases in the party who are working against its interest.
Speaking during a courtesy call on the national leadership of the PDP, Governor Akpabio attributed the internal crisis in the party to parochial interests and the huge size of the followership of the party.
He advised those who have been working against the interest of the party to retrace their steps as the fresh internal cleansing that will soon commence in the party will see then out of the party. “His words: You know we are having challenges but the challenges for me, with what we have started now, has always been a function of PDP. What you saw was an explosion. What has happened to PDP is because of self explosion.
“When there is an explosion, where there is treachery, where there is more Judases than you have disciples, we want to have good disciples. We know that even in Christendom when Jesus Christ has 12 disciples there was one Judas, but if the Judas were up to nine then Jesus could have been in trouble, the gospel would have been in trouble today.
“What the PDP is trying to do now is to cleanse its house, to try to identify the ones they called Judas and whisper it to them and said go out, the train is moving and you cannot stand otherwise we will crush you.”
Meanwhile, former Kano State Governor, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, who is the leader of the All Nigeria People’s Party, ANPP, merger committee, yesterday disclosed that four more political parties have indicated interest to join APC.
Shekarau, who presented the progress report to the National Working Committee, NWC, of the party said beyond the four parties that are being mentioned in the merger, “the committee is in receipt of four other parties that have written to express their interest to be part of the process.”
Speaking while receiving the interim progress report of the Re-building and Interparty Contact Committee yesterday at the party headquarters in Abuja, National Chairman of the ANPP, Chief Ogbonnaya Onu said the APC will clearly show that there is a difference between the ruling party and the progressive coalition party.
He said by the time the manifesto and logo of APC is released, it will be clear the difference between the new party and the PDP is a clear as daylight and darkness.
“When the 2015 contest comes it will be between the conservatives and the progressives and when the people makes their views known it will be clear which of the two they prefer,” he said.
He said ANPP is very committed to ensuring that all major opposition parties come together to work together.
According to Onu, although some people have said that the merger may not succeed like past ones, what we all know that what we are doing presently had never been done before. Onu said this is the first time parties who have many things in common are coming together to challenge the party in power.
He said the merging parties have identical ideological leanings and that contrary to critics views that the merger will not succeed because it is a marriage of strange bed fellows, the merger will succeed.
Onu assured Nigerians that once the APC is registered that the party will not disappoint them, adding the party will protect the interest of the ordinary man.
“We will put the interest of ordinary Nigerians in the affairs of governance because this is what has been causing problem in the country’s governance,” he said.
-------------Obiora Ifoh and Aza Msue/National Mirror