Overtures by President Muhammadu Buhari and All Progressives Congress (APC) national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, to influential leaders of the Reformed All Progressives Congress (R-APC) may have stalled the planned mass defection of members of the group, at least for now.
Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and four APC governors met on Thursday with Senate President Bukola Saraki on the grievances of the group while Oshiomhole has also met individually with the likes of Saraki, House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara,Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State and ex-Kano State governor, Senator Rabiu Kwakwaso, as well as the APC caucus in the National Assembly with a view to dousing the defection fire.
Sources in R-APC told The Nation that the peace talks of the last few days have succeeded in slowing down their defection plan.
“The defection of our members was to be in batches. We have started as you can see, with some party leaders in some states as well as prominent aides and associates of our leaders announcing their resignation from the APC in the past weeks,” one of the sources said on Thursday, just before the president’s meeting with Saraki.
Feelers from the meeting indicated that the president urged the aggrieved APC chieftains not to dump the ruling party.
The R-APC sources added: “Several meeting were held these past days to review and fine tune the processes outlined for others to move as agreed.
“If everything works out as planned, some members of the National Assembly will announce their defection this week. They will be joined by some party officials in some states as well as other prominent leaders of the ruling party across the states of the federation.”
With Buhari and Osinbajo at Thursday’s meeting were Governors Abdul’Aziz Yari of Zamfara, Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), and Aminu Masari (Katsina).
The meeting took place a day after the Senate President and some governors met with the national chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus. The governors were Abdufatah Ahmed of Kwara, Nyesom Wike of Rivers, Samuel Ortom of Benue, and Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State.
Emerging from his meeting with Ortom, Oshiomhole said that the ruling party would not allow Governor Ortom defect to the PDP. He said the national leadership of APC would do everything possible to ensure that peace returns to the Benue State chapter and that Governor Ortom remains in the party.
Also pushing for a halt in the defection plot of the aggrieved APC chieftains is a committee of APC elders in Sokoto State.
The elders who are working on the reconciliation initiative launched by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu some weeks back met separately with Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State and his predecessor, Senator Aliyu Wammako, during the week.
Sources said the thrust of the meeting was the need to convince the governor to jettison his alleged plan to leave the APC ahead of the 2019 general election.
Speaking to our correspondent yesterday, an R-APC chieftain in Kwara State said there are strong indications that the planned defection process may be put on hold in the face of what he described as ‘ongoing reappraisals.’ He added that a meeting of the leadership of the group may hold early this week to determine the next line of action following certain unforeseen developments.
“We are likely to halt some of our plans for now. It is true the R-APC was to take some very crucial steps this week but due to the need for us as a group to re-appraise some of the things we have done before now, we may suspend some of the immediate things we planned to do, especially in the coming week. But I can assure you that it is not true that we have back tracked on our decision to leave APC. We will still leave the party.”
Another R-APC source said: “we are waiting eagerly to know if anything has changed. There are talks about a deal being worked out between the leadership of the ruling party and some of our leaders.
“We don’t know how true this is yet. But what I can tell you now is that the decision of President Buhari to reach out to Saraki is unsettling the R-APC and the silence of the Senate President after the meeting is not helping the situation.
“In Kwara here, all we hear are rumours. Just yesterday, we heard that some of our members in the National Assembly who were to announce their defection from the APC during the week have been told to hold on.
“Party leaders were also summoned to a meeting in Ilorin on Saturday and we hear the discussion was on what the R-APC should demand from the presidency and the APC. There are so many things flying around as we speak. Until the leaders speak, we are uncertain of what next,” our source said.