President Muhammadu Buhari has declared that he will never sit down for discussion with the aggrieved members of the defunct new Peoples Democratic Party that joined forces to form the ruling All Progressives Congress.
A top government official disclosed this to journalists on the condition of anonymity on Monday. The source said Buhari had conveyed his position on the matter to state governors elected on the platform of the APC during a meeting he had with them recently. The President was said to have insisted that state governors and the national leaders of the party should be able to resolve such issues.
He said the issue was a party matter and he was not ready to sit with any faction. “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 interfere. “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,” Buhari was quoted to have told the APC governors. He was, however, said to have agreed that the contact started by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo should continue. The source also added that opinions were divided on the issue among the governors that attended the meeting. “Some hard-line governors asked the President to ignore the PDP members while the majority felt the party and the VP should continue to talk to them,” the source added.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, could not be reached on the telephone for comment as of the time of filing this report. But the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; a former governor of Kano State, Senator Rabi’u Kwankwaso (Kano-Central); and Senator Shehu Sani (Kaduna-Central), who are part of the aggrieved APC members, could not be reached for comments on Monday night. Several calls made to Sani and Saraki’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, were not answered and they had yet to reply to messages sent to them as of the time of filing this report.
Saraki and Olaniyonu had gone to Saudi Arabia to observe the lesser Hajj. When contacted, an aide to Kwankwaso, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said his principal was out of the country and was not aware of the position taken by the President on the crisis.
He said, “I think what you should do is to get the response from the Chairman of the nPDP, Alhaji Kawu Baraje. My boss has travelled out of the country and I can’t say anything about it. He has not heard anything like that.” The nPDP had earlier in May issued a seven-day ultimatum to President Buhari to address grievances of alleged marginalisation and persecution of its members. The ultimatum was contained in a letter sent to the President by the chairman of the defunct PDP, Baraje and the secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
It was sent to the President through the office of the National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun. The nPDP bloc expressed dismay that despite significant contributions they made in the emergence of Buhari as the winner of the 2015 Presidential election, they had been sidelined by the government. Specifically, they claimed that members of their group were denied juicy appointments while those who got top positions in the National Assembly were being allegedly persecuted by the Federal Government.
Saraki and the Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, are prominent members of the PDP bloc of the APC. Saraki is facing prosecution for alleged false asset declaration charges at the Code of Conduct Tribunal. The President had earlier mandated a national leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu, to reconcile all aggrieved members while Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo had met with the leadership of the nPDP members to resolve the crisis. Both efforts have been futile with the nPDP leadership insisting on meeting with the President.