That there is an internal dissension within the All Progressives Congress (APC) is an understatement, as power blocks fight for relevance within the amorphous platform. One of such aggrieved groups is the defunct new Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) that dissolved into the APC at its formative stage as an opposition party. The nPDP in a petition signed by Alhaji Kawu Baraje and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, chairman and secretary, respectively and addressed to the party national working committee, detailed what it called the marginalisation and witch-hunt of its members within the ruling party. In this interview with select journalists, the deputy national publicity secretary of the APC, who incidentally is the spokesman of the Baraje faction, Timi Frank, spoke on the nPDP’s grievances and why the Presidency must address the grievances. TAIWO AMODU brings the excerpts.
SENATOR Abdulahi Adamu has renounced your group; he said the nPDP no longer exists, having dissolved into the APC. He also faulted your group’s claim of marginalisation. What is your take?
I am here to clarify issues and I am here to debunk some of the lies from some of our members, that is Senator Abdullahi Adamu and Honourable Abdulmumin Jibrin, who were in my party secretariat yesterday to oppose the view of the majority, to oppose what our leaders have said and chairman of our group, Alhaji Kawu Baraje who recently was in the secretariat to submit a letter to inform the party of our grievances on the new PDP that joined the merger that brought the APC into power.
In all of these, I want to make it very clear that we have no faction in our group. I saw in some of the papers I read [today] that there is crack in the new PDP. There is no crack as far as we are concerned. We only have one group; we have only one leader and that leader remains only Alhaji Kawu Baraje and I can tell you clearly that without fear or favour, and I want to make it known to all of you that Alhaji Kawu Baraje is not alone in that letter. He has the mandate of over 95 per cent of some of us that joined the new PDP into the APC that made 2015 successful.
You can see and everybody knows that it was because of our decision to join the APC that practically brought the victory we are all enjoying today. So, when people like Senator Abdullahi Adamu who used to be one of us came up with some of his positions yesterday, I want to clearly make it known to Nigerians that they must have forgotten history and I want to make it known to you that whatever they have said to counter our move, are total lies. Nigerians are there to testify.
But the duo of Abdullahi and Jubrin claimed that nPDP members have benefited immensely from this government. What is your reaction to that claim?
They said the new PDP group has benefited massively from this government, that is one of their claims but that is not true. But once more, I want to make it very clear that we are not here to respond to individuals. We are here to make it known that our proposal, our letter is to the party. So, it is left for the party to either take it seriously or not. But I believe any serious party will take whatever position or decision we have brought before them and look into it.
[Today makes it seven days from the day our group brought this letter to the party.] But as it stands, we have not got any response yet from them. As we have said, whatever we must have said in that letter, it is not an empty threat. If they fail to recognise us, so, be it. But at the appropriate time, we are going to respond to Nigerians based on what we have said. It is not just a mere threat; it is not just a mere ultimatum. But I will tell you clearly that we are meeting our leaders; we are going to come up with a clear position to brief Nigerians on our next step if finally they don’t attend to us.
And again I want to go back to some of the benefits that they said our group got. Nigerians are aware of how we succeeded in getting the Senate President for the new PDP and the Speaker. They weren’t supported by our party. The Senate President was not supported by the executive arm of government. We managed to get these two positions by the grace of God and by the support of the Nigerian people. And also the support of senators and members of the House that believe, have confidence in the leadership of Senator Bukola Saraki and Hon. Yakubu Dogara and they chose to stand by these two people because they believe these two people will take the party and Nigerians to the promised land. So far so good, we are very happy with them, they have done very well despite challenges and the circumstances and hurdles they passed and they are still passing through till today.
So, nobody should give credit to either the party or anybody saying they gave us from the new PDP anything. We fought to get these two positions. The only two beneficiaries we can remember in our group are Rotimi Amaechi who became the Minister of Transportation and Hajiya Alhassan who became the Minister of Women Affairs. These are the two people we can remember. So, I want to make it very clear again that we are not going to be intimidated by any group or anybody as long as the Nigerian people are happy with us. But I want to use this opportunity to remind my party that this is the same way we were trying to correct the wrongs of Jonathan’s government then in the PDP; they never listened to us. We told them when we were aggrieved; our leaders moved round the states to talk to party members, to ask the government at that time to listen to our views but at the end of the day, they refuse. They ignored us; that is how we left.
You just said that your group played a key role in rescuing Nigerians from the past PDP administration. Three years after, the party you joined hands to install has been receiving bashing from Nigerians. Would you at this stage look back and say that what you did then was right?
I will tell you clearly that yes, as of the time we took the decision to leave the PDP; we believed we took the right step. We did not have the celestial or spiritual power to know what would be bad and that is why we decided to come up, and to tell Nigerians and to tell our party “this is not what we bargained for.”
So, it is now left for our party to listen to us, to take our positions and decisions very serious. You can see we are not just sycophants in our group. We don’t just sit down and keep quiet because we want to keep quiet. We speak when necessary. That is why I can tell you again, the same way, the same strategy we deployed in telling our former party then, the PDP the truth that they ignored, that we decided to tell our party of today the truth of the injustice, oppression that is going on in the party. There is too much oppression, harassment and intimidation of some of us that came from the PDP to join this coalition.
Do you believe the APC can win the 2019 general election?
When that time comes, we will cross the bridge. That is why we decided to come together to point out the wrongs and advise them on the part of the truth. It is left for them to listen or not to listen.
Is your group planning to return to the PDP?
I have said when we get to that bridge, we’ll cross it and when time comes, I will tell you clearly. We are meeting and we going to come up with a decision that we think Nigerians will be happy with within the next 24 hours.
The PDP knows we are a beautiful bride. They know the capacity of those of us that left, because that is the party we were part of. They know the roles and the importance and the damage we caused when we left the PDP. So, I believe they want to take advantage of that. That is why it is left for the APC to know whether we are useful or not. So, if we are useful or not useful so be it. We are politicians and as I have said, we are going to take a position on the next step very soon.
How soon will this meeting be? Secondly, the APC is in the process of what one will call transition and it is obvious that the sitting leadership of the party may not be in the right position to address the issues you are raising presently. Don’t you think it would have been better to wait for the incoming executive to address these issues?
We cannot wait for that. There is an executive right now. They are the ones that received our letter; they should be able to respond to our letter. Secondly, as I have said, we are meeting. We are going to be meeting and we will come up with a position and decision within a possible short time based on our seven days ultimatum
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