•Our train has left APC station for good, says R-APC
•Baraje: We’ll leave APC with or without Saraki
•PDP looking for life after death, leopard can’t change its spots —APC
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Henry Umoru, Demola Akinyemi & Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA—The Presidency, working in concert with Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the new National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, has moved to break the ranks of the Reformed All Progressives Congress, R-APC.
The move, coming in the form of promises of reconciliation and re-election to disaffected stalwarts of the group, are, however, strongly rebuffed by the R-APC which yesterday cautioned its members across the country not to be swayed by the moves, affirming that the train had left the station.
Reflective of that, loyalists of Senate President, Bukola Saraki, in Kwara State warned him yesterday that they would not remain in the APC with him in the face of what they claimed as their horrid experiences in the party.
Also yesterday, former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Comrade Timi Frank, said the move would not stop the defection of five state governors, 30 serving senators and 135 members of the House of Representatives who have reportedly made up their minds to dump APC in the coming days.
The mainstream APC was, however, quick to link the mutterings to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which it yesterday accused of looking for life after death.
APC spokesman, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari and Oshiomhole to reconcile aggrieved party members were the hallmark of leadership and responsibility.
The move to stop the R-APC loyalists from defecting, it was gathered, was mainly being spearheaded by Oshiomhole who had been meeting with leaders of the R-APC in their homes in Abuja.
Oshiomhole, according to one associate, had been able to win back the support of some federal legislators with the promise of reconciling them with their governors, who many of the legislators were peeved with.
One associate of Oshiomhole said yesterday that some of the R-APC leaders had become confused as to which way to go, given their earlier beef with the President and the party.
“With the moves of Adams, some of them are having a rethink, and I can tell you that some of them have become confused, ”an associate of the national chairman privy to the move, told Vanguard yesterday.
However, R-APC stalwarts were yesterday dismissive of the move, saying they doubted the possibility of presidency officials having the same sincerity with Oshiomhole in his reconciliation efforts.
We’ve left APC for good — R-APC
The reconciliation efforts were, indeed, dismissed by the spokesman of the R-APC, Prince Kassim Afegbua, yesterday in a terse statement in which he said the train had left the station and that the APC would not change its colours.
Pouring scorn on the reconciliation efforts, in the face of the troubles Saraki was made to go through, including linkage to the Offa armed robbery incident, trials for alleged forgery and false assets declaration, among others, the R-APC said: “It is interesting to suddenly see Mr. President holding meetings with the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, reportedly promising mouth-watering offers.
‘’The same leader who was ridiculed, scandalized, demonized, criminalized and called all sorts of names by agents of the Presidency just to give the Senate President a bad name in order to hang him.
‘’As soon as the Supreme Court gave a resounding verdict on the trumped-up and frivolous charges against the Senate President, Mr. President suddenly felt a need to praise the judiciary for standing on its own. Power, as they truly say, must be a crazy aphrodisiac.
“Those who said they won’t lose sleep over the R-APC, have become sleepless in the last two weeks. The President, who has held himself in the inner sanctuary of the Presidential Villa, is all of a sudden, opening his doors to one meeting or the other all in the name of re-election.
“Just to make the point that it is too late in the day. The train has left the station. Leopards cannot change their spots, no matter how much one tries to tame them.
‘’We enjoin all our members to remain steadfast and resolute in defending their rights and taking the appropriate action in defence of democracy.
“This democracy must survive on ethical grounds and not on lawlessness and exclusion. It must provide a level playing ground for all participants. Those who prevented some persons from visiting their states in the name of politics have suddenly realised that they need the services and support of those persons.
“They are now pleading, ready to submit to all demands. That won’t work because examples have shown that political agreements are often observed in the breach.
“This is to inform our members nation-wide that we are still maintaining our stand against the APC and no amount of carrots, intimidation, and harassment can dissuade us in our shared commitment to rescue this democracy.”
Further dashing hopes for reconciliation, the Chairman of the New Peoples Democratic Party, nPDP, bloc in the APC, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, vowed yesterday that members of the APC and supporters of Saraki in Kwara State have vowed not to return to the party, irrespective of the juicy dangles being offered them.
Expressing shock at the desperation of the Presidency and the party in an interview in Ilorin, he said: “The followers of the Senate President particularly from Kwara State and across the country have already resolved to leave the APC with or without Saraki, so it is now left for the Senate President to take a decision more so that he is an experienced and seasoned politician.
“As far as I know, there is no juicy position that can replace the kind of embarrassment, debasement, and horrifying experiences many of us have suffered and gone through in the hands of some few mischievous members of the APC, it’s quite unfortunate,” he added .
Baraje disclosed that as far as he and his supporters and followers are concerned, they have taken a decision and they are about to reach the final stage of such a decision.
Baraje stressed: “If the Senate President feels it is fit for him to stay back, all is well and good. But the Senate President as a leader also has his supporters and followers, and if they have decided to leave the party, I don’t know what he (Saraki) will still be doing behind.
Why we left — Timi Frank
The momentum against the APC was further echoed by Frank, a former deputy national publicity secretary of the APC who said that as many as five governors, 30 senators and more than 100 members of the House of Representatives would leave the APC.
He chastised the ruling party for making offers to the members of the R-APC to return.
“In a matter of days, Nigerians will have cause to celebrate our final exit from the party of killings, poverty, and propaganda to join hands with real progressive groups in the country.
“The same people that could not respect the agreement we had in the last three years are now begging, promising heaven and earth to our leaders. In their deception, they have failed to realize that Nigerians now know their true colours. Their much talked about integrity is a delusion, they are wolves in sheep clothing.
“Our plan to reject them and their party is not for personal gain. It is primarily to team up with real progressive groups to rescue the country from the current handlers who rejoice when Nigerians are killed in their numbers, who value lives of cows than Nigerians and religiously persecute opposition members in the name of fighting corruption.
“In the 2019 general elections, Nigerians have come to know that a vote for the APC will mean a vote for hardship, oppression, insecurity, and unemployment. We are teaming up to ensure an end to visionless leadership of the current APC government, and because our leaders in R-APC are men and women of honour, there is no going back in our plan to join forces in rescuing Nigeria from the incompetent APC leadership.”
While calling on the leaders of R-APC not to give in to pressure, the Bayelsa-born politician warned that supporting re-election bid of President Buhari is as good as giving consent to be jailed in nearest future.
The mainstream APC, speaking through its spokesman, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi in a statement yesterday, however, lampooned the PDP saying: “If PDP is not alleging wild conspiracies, they are threatening to boycott elections or announcing fake defections. What is clear with all these is that no matter how long a leopard lives, it cannot change its spots.
“What President Muhammadu Buhari and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the National Chairman of our Party are doing, persuading every aggrieved member not to leave the Party, is what responsible and sensible party leaders would do. Party politics is a game of numbers. And that game is addition. If the PDP had the same presence of mind in 2015, perhaps the calamity that befell them would have been averted.”