President Muhammadu Buhari’s rejection of a request for a meeting by members of the new Peoples Democratic Party bloc of the All Progressives Congress has jolted members of the nPDP.
The PUNCH learnt on Tuesday that following the refusal of the President to meet with nPDP, leaders of the group were in a dilemma on whether to leave the APC or stay in the ruling party.
It was gathered that the group had thought that Buhari would not only meet its leaders, but also grant some of its requests because of his desire to seek re-election in 2019.
However, Buhari was reported to have told state governors at a recent meeting that he was not prepared to meet with the aggrieved party members.
Most of the national dailies on Tuesday, reported the President as saying, “It is a party matter, I am not ready to sit down with any faction. If they have problems, they should go to the party. I will not intervene.
“Governors as party leaders in the states should deal with all issues. Where there is a need, the party leadership can come in. I will not get involved.”
But a former National Youth Leader of the nPDP, Mr. Timi Frank, told one of our correspondents that the group would consider the media reports as speculations.
He said, “We have not been formally communicated. We read it on the pages of newspapers like everyone else. If it is true- because, there has not been a denial (from the Presidency).
“I want to say that it was this same nonchalant attitude that the former ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party, exhibited that led us to leave the party and the party paid the price.
“If today our President decides to say he is going to ignore us, so be it but I can assure you that we can’t be ignored. Our group is not a group that anybody can ignore. We have the capacity to make our point.
“If we leave today, I can assure you the party (APC) will crash. We want to believe that that news is a rumour. I don’t think the President will say he doesn’t want to see members of his party.”
But findings in Abuja and Ilorin, on Tuesday, indicated that some members of the group were at a loss on how best to respond.
The challenge being that the arrowheads of their struggle, the National Chairman of the nPDP, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, and President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, are both out of the country.
While Baraje is said to be in Saudi Arabia where he has gone to observe the Hajj, Saraki is on a state visit to Russia.
A prominent member of the group who asked not to be named because he has not been authorised to speak to the media, said, “The report in the papers today came as a surprise. We were not expecting it; to make matters worse, our leaders are currently not in the country.
“We were to meet before now for an enlarged meeting after some of our leaders met outside the country last week but the problems associated with logistics made it impossible.
“Some of them are still not back. I can however assure you that if it is true that the President said that, we will respond appropriately.
“If leaving the party was our original plan, we would not have gone through all these processes of writing a letter and all that.”
Party sources told one of our correspondents in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, that members of the group had hoped that the President, who is the leader of the party, would intervene to address their grievances.
One of the sources said they had hoped for the President’s assurances which would have gone a long way to douse tension and give everyone a renewed sense of belonging.
The source said most of their members would be disappointed if it was true that the President had foreclosed any meeting with them because it would confirm “speculations that hawks around the President who do not care about the possible damage doing so will do to the party, have had their way.”
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress Grassroots Youths for Change has raised the alarm over alleged plans by state governors and leaders of the party to put together a unity list of anointed candidates to be formally ratified by ballot at its June 23 national convention in Abuja.
The group raised the alarm in a statement issued in Abuja, on Tuesday.
The National Publicity Secretary of the group, Ainofenokhai Isa, said there were growing concerns about the plan because if executed, it had the potential of leading to an unprecedented post-convention crisis.
The statement read in part, “It has come to our knowledge that a list of anointed candidates to fill the various positions ceded to the respective states has been compiled preparatory to its endorsement at the convention holding in Abuja.
“This is a clear disregard for the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari that a level playing field should be provided for all qualified party members who are interested in occupying any position in the National Executive Committee.
“Undermining the President’s directive has implications for internal democracy and cohesion in the party. It also has the potentialities to erode the gains that the party made by the president’s decision to overrule the NEC on tenure extension that it originally granted to itself.”