Niyi Odebode, John Alechenu, Olusola Fabiyi and Femi Makinde
The Reformed-All Progressives Congress on Sunday said it was too late for President Muhammadu Buhari to start dangling juicy carrots before its members in order to stop their defection from the ruling APC.
The R-APC, which stated this in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kassim Afegbua, took a swipe at the President and the APC.
The APC faction stated that the Buhari government was not a promise keeper because it had not fulfilled what it promised Nigerians during the electioneering in 2014 and 2015.
In the last one week, Buhari and the APC had intensified efforts to prevent the defection of the R-APC members.
Sunday PUNCH had exclusively reported that the APC had in a last-ditch effort to stop the defection of the R-APC senators and members of the House of Representatives, offered the lawmakers automatic tickets to contest the 2019 elections.
According to the report, R-APC lawmakers will defect on Thursday, if the APC does not put the promise of the automatic tickets they are being offered in writing.
Also last Thursday, Buhari met with the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, at the Presidential Villa, where he was reported to have pleaded with Saraki not to leave the APC.
The ruling party was reported to promise Saraki that he would retain the Senate presidency in 2019.
The R-APC, in its statement, said despite the initial arrogance of the APC leaders they had been pleading with its leaders not to defect.
It stated, “We, members of the R-APC, find it very amusing that those who boasted that they won’t lose sleep over our altruistic action, have been hopping from door to door pleading with our members not to leave by dangling juicy carrots and promising them heaven and earth.
“Such level of double standard is the reason why the R-APC was birthed in the first place because the leadership is not one that keeps promises and it’s the reason why no one should take the APC seriously.”
The APC faction said that it was surprising that the President had been holding meetings with Saraki, “reportedly promising mouth-watering offers; the same leader who was ridiculed, scandalised, demonised, criminalised 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.”
It added, “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.”
The R-APC noted that never had the number three citizen of Nigeria been so dehumanised, criminalised and disgraced while those who just started reconciliation “kept conspiratorial silence, waiting for the sledgehammer to fall on the Senate President.”
It said that the government tried all tricks, mounted all manner of pressures, raised all dubious allegations, just to nail the Senate President.
The R-APC stated, “They were short of calling him a promoter of armed robbery. They linked his name to the Offa Robbery and improvised all bile to rubbish the institution of the legislature.
“They stripped him naked in the marketplace and now desperately trying to bath him with ornaments in the inner fortress of Aso Rock.”
The group alleged that the Code of Conduct tribunal displayed magisterial arrogance in prosecuting the Senate President, but the Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment gave Saraki a clean bill of health.
The R-APC stated, “All the political conspirators in the APC swoop into dubious reconciliation assignment, hopping from door to door at the thick of the night to strike deals of reconciliation. Those who said they won’t lose sleep over the R-APC have become sleepless in the last two weeks.
“Does anyone need to be reminded that caveat emptor should be the operative word? Those who pleaded in the past, short of kneeling before their subordinates, ended up in the political belly of their benefactors when the re-election was concluded. It is an albatross that some people are still carrying till date.”
APC govt, not a promise keeper – R-APC
Berating the Buhari administration, it stated, “This government is never a promise keeper and some of the promises contained in the manifestos of the APC have been jettisoned.
“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.”
The R-APC urged its members to remain steadfast and resolute in defending their rights and taking the appropriate action in defence of democracy.
It stated, “This democracy must survive on ethical grounds and not on lawlessness and exclusion. It must provide a level playing field 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. Who does not know that won’t work because examples have shown that political agreements are often observed in the breach.”
The group told its members nationwide that it was still maintaining its stand against the APC “and no amount of carrots, intimidation and harassment can dissuade us in our shared commitment to rescue this democracy.”
However, there were indications that the APC on Sunday met with the leaders of the R-APC, including Alhaji Buba Galadima.
A top member of the APC, who confided in one of our correspondents in Abuja, said the APC delegates led by the National Chairman, Mr Adams Oshiomhole, met Galadima at the residence of a former governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, very early on Sunday.
The aggrieved members of the APC had after the national convention of the party formed a faction they called R-APC. They had alleged marginalisation and injustice by the APC against them.
But Oshiomhole had in an interview with journalists said there was no faction in the APC.
He had said, “There is no breakup in our party. If one Galadima is not happy, that is fine. He has a right not to be happy.
“If he chooses to call himself whatever he wants to call himself, that is not the issue. I will not lose my sleep over that. We know those who are in the system.”
An R-APC source, who confirmed the meeting, stated, “Yes, it is true they met. They (Oshiomhole and Buba Galadima) met in Kwankwaso’s house.”
The source added. “The man that said he was not going to lose sleep over us went to meet our chairman at 2am.
‘You said you were not going to lose sleep over us, it is 2am, are you not supposed to be sleeping? That is what Buba (Galadima) told him.”
Attempts to get a reaction from Galadima were unsuccessful. Calls to his mobile telephone number were neither picked nor returned.
A response to a text message sent to him on the subject was still being expected as of the time of filing this report at 7.30 pm.
Also, efforts to get a response from Oshiomhole were unsuccessful.
His Media Aide, Mr Simon Ebegbulem said, “I will get back to you after I must have reached him.”
He had yet to do so as of the time of filing this report at 7.49 pm.
When contacted, the spokesperson for Kwankwaso, Binta Spikin, said she was not aware of the meeting.
Asked if the meeting took place in her principal’s house and if he was in attendance, Spikin said, “I don’t know.”
APC justifies meetings with R-APC
But the APC, in a statement by its spokesman, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, justified the meetings being held by Buhari and Oshiomhole with the aggrieved party members.
He said the meetings which were being held to persuade aggrieved party members showed that the APC was a responsible party.
Abdullahi said, “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 number. And that game is an addition. If the PDP had the same presence of mind in 2015, perhaps the calamity that befell them would have been averted.
“After three years in the wilderness, the Peoples Democratic Party is understandably excited with the possibility of hiding its irredeemably bad image under the heap of a new coalition.
“Like the vulture, the PDP sees every altercation as a potential opportunity for a feast.”
I will make my intention is known soon – Saraki
The APC stated this just as Saraki said he would make known his next political move very soon.
Saraki, who has been rumoured to be planning to defect from the APC ahead of the 2019 general elections, said this in an interview with journalists in Ede, Osun State.
The Senate President was the guest lecturer at the fourth convocation and conferment of honorary doctorates on some prominent persons by the Adeleke University, Ede.
Saraki said, “ Like I said last week, I will tell Nigerians where and what my intentions are. I would do that very soon.”
The Senate President, who is a friend of the Adeleke family, also congratulated Senator Ademola Adeleke, on his emergence as the governorship candidate of the PDP.
He said he was happy about the performance of Adeleke, who replaced his late brother, Senator Isiaka Adeleke, as the senator representing the Osun West Senatorial District at the Senate in July 2017.
He said, “I congratulate him apart from being a member of the PDP, don’t forget. He ( Adeleke) is a colleague of mine in the Senate. I am happy to see that he’s done very well. It means that he is popular and well accepted. It is good to see that our member of the Senate is well accepted. I wish him all the best in the election ahead.”
But the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, who was also at the convocation, warned Nigerian leaders and political actors against making utterances and taking steps capable of destabilising the country.
Oshiomhole, Buhari jittery, says PDP
On its part, the PDP said Oshiomhole had become jittery over the mega-coalition between it and 38 other political interests. This, it said, had led the APC chairman to resort to hauling of misdirected insults and abuses at the PDP.
The PDP said Oshiomhole’s resort to insults betrayed the confusion of what it described as a depressed politician seeking to cover his personal vacuity and inner fears of the inevitable defeat awaiting Buhari and his APC in 2019.
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, said in a statement in Abuja on Sunday, that the former ruling party held nothing but pity for Oshiomhole,
He said the APC chairman was licking his own vomit by going around cap in hand and begging the same compatriots whom he had earlier called names like ‘inconsequential,’ ‘hungry birds’ and ‘tired feet,’ not to leave his sinking party.
He stated, “Unfortunately for Oshiomhole and his presidential sponsor, events of the weeks ahead will clear all doubts that the APC is dead and that Oshiomhole is just an undertaker, whose job is to cremate the derelict contraption by oppressors, who are falsely hailing themselves as messiahs.
“What Oshiomhole and President Buhari, in their fantasy trip, fail to understand is that those they seek to draw into the cave are already aware of the story of the sick lion and that all animals that went visiting never returned. They know that the tiger does not offer his back for a ride without a price.
“Very soon, Oshiomhole and President Buhari would find themselves alone in the cursed ‘Black Pearl’ that the APC has irredeemably become.
“While we understand Oshiomhole’s frustration over his inability to stop the coalition, the fact remains that he and President Buhari are fighting a losing battle in trying to destroy it.”
He said that Nigerians had already reached a consensus to coalesce and vote out President Buhari come 2019 and replace him with a more competent, pan-Nigerian President.
He added that no amount of intimidation, threats, violence or even enticement of any kind could change this iron-cast resolve.
Nigerians don’t need your voter education, PDP tells Buhari
In another development, the PDP told the President not to waste his energy on any cosmetic campaign for collection of Permanent Voter Cards. It alleged that the failure of his administration had provided enough stimuli for Nigerians to fully participate in the 2019 elections.
Ologbondiyan said in a statement in Abuja on Sunday that Buhari declared his interest to run again some months back without engaging in voter education.
He wondered what had made the President to suddenly realise the importance of PVCs.
Ologbondiyan said, “This is a leader who declared interest to contest, months ago, without talking about PVCs or engaging in any form of voter education, only for him to suddenly wake up to the reality of the mass wave of PVC collection by Nigerians, which signposts the inevitable electoral humiliation that awaits him and his party in 2019.
“The sad issue is that President Buhari has refused to come to terms with the fact that Nigerians have since moved ahead of him. He does not need to urge them to get their PVCs.”
A member of the R-APC, Mr Timi Frank, said attempts to woo members and leaders of the R-APC with promises of oil wells and automatic tickets were destined to fail.
He said the plan by members of the R-APC to move out of the APC in their numbers was just a few days away from actualisation.
Frank said this in a statement he signed in Abuja, on Sunday.
He expressed surprise that “The leadership of the APC and the Presidency can resort to begging and making promises of juicy positions, automatic tickets, including oil wells to some of our leaders.”
No political party can hold our democracy to ransom – Oshiomhole
But the APC has also dismissed the PDP’s threat to boycott the 2019 elections, saying no political party could hold Nigeria’s democracy to ransom.
Oshiomhole said this while receiving the report of the Governor Abdulaziz Yari-led panel on the Osun State Governorship primaries, late on Saturday.
The APC national chairman said his party had refused to be intimidated by the opposition PDP because it was obvious that the party was throwing tantrums because its rigging machinery had been dismantled.
He also said the PDP was being haunted by its past and that no one should take the party’s threats seriously because its “do or die” approach to elections had since lost its appeal.
According to him, Nigerians have demonstrated their acceptance of democracy by the sheer number of people that turn up during political activities and for elections.
Oshiomhole said, “Let me tell them (PDP), nobody can threaten democracy, Nigerians have accepted it, they bought into it, they have shown their belief in it by the sheer number of people that voted in the last time and the campaigns you have seen.
“This has shown that beyond political parties, Nigerians are committed to the sustenance of democracy.
“This democracy is not at the mercy of any particular political party. We will not be intimidated and we are committed to one man, one vote, we will sustain it. That is the way to go.”
He likened the threat issued by the PDP to that of “a rabbit jumping out of a hole in the afternoon because a hunter has come to put fire to smoke it out.” (Punch)