Ahead of the 2019 elections, series of meetings were yesterday held in the Seat of Caliphate, Sokoto and Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, between the leadership of the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and high ranking members of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Though held under the cover of condolence visits, it was learnt that the marathon meetings took place preparatory to the defection of some APC leaders to the PDP.
PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, led party leaders to meet with Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki; APC governors – Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto), Samuel Ortom (Benue) and Abdulfattah Ahmed (Kwara) in Ilorin and Sokoto.
Sources at the meetings told New Telegraph that the PDP is perfecting strategies ahead of the defection of Saraki, Tambuwal, Ortom, Ahmed and high ranking members of the APC before the end of July.
“We will soon take over the control of the National Assembly leadership. The three governors are almost in PDP. We will soon harvest APC members,” a source at the meeting told New Telegraph.
Four PDP presidential aspirants – Atiku Abubakar, Ibrahim Shekarau, Tanimu Turaki and Sule Lamido – were part of the meeting.
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State; Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT) of the PDP, Senator Walid Jibril; and National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbodiyan, among others, were also in attendance.
The first meeting was held in Sokoto. The meeting with Tambuwal, which lasted for about 35 minutes, had Secondus, Jibril, former Vice President Abubakar, Shekarau, Turaki, and Lamido, among others.
The Ilorin meeting was held after some of the dignitaries had taken part in the eighth day fidau prayers for Alhaja Aishat Baraje, mother of former National Chairman of defunct New Peoples Democratic Party (NPDP), Alhaji Kawu Baraje.
Other dignitaries at the prayer session include Deputy National Chairman of the APC (North), Lawan Shuaibu and his Southern counterpart, Niyi Adebayo; Senators Barnabas Gemade and Shabba Lafiagi; members of Kwara State House of Assembly; representatives of the Emir of Ilorin and Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), as well as members of the Kwankwansiya Movement in the state.
Those who did not participate in the prayer session, but were present at the Ilorin meeting are Tambuwal, Lamido, and Secondus.
Yesterday was the second time the PDP national chairman would be coming to Ilorin within five days.
Secondus had earlier visited the Baraje family house on Saturday, where he warned against rigging in the now concluded governorship election in Ekiti State.
No one was ready to shed light on the outcome of the meeting which took place at Saraki’s home in Ilorin. The meeting lasted about one hour before the dignitaries departed for Abuja at 4:05p.m.
Saraki’s media aides declined to speak on the issue other than to dismiss speculations about its purpose as they insisted it was merely for the fidau prayer.
The Senate President had, on his return to Ilorin on Tuesday, asked that he should be not rushed on the issue of his speculated plan to leave the APC.
New Telegraph reliably gathered that Saraki, alongside the Kwara State governor and their supporters, are on their way out of the APC.
Senior Special Assistant (Media) to Governor Ahmed, Dr. Muideen Akorede, said while his principal is yet to defect from the APC, there are indications that he and other political leaders are being gradually shown the way out of the ruling party.
His words: “Kwara State governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, is yet to take a decision on his political future with the APC.
“While I have not been briefed on any planned defection, I am aware that my principal and other political leaders in the state are gradually being shown the way out of the APC.”
Earlier, Ortom had told newsmen that his meeting with the national leadership of the APC slated for yesterday (Wednesday) will determine his next political move. He, however, explained that the final decision lies on his people who are more important to him.
Ortom said the Benue State chapter of APC had issued him a red card and hoped that the national leadership of the party, which is the larger body, is capable of upturning the decision of the state chapter.
Ortom said: “I have told you before that I have been given red card by the leadership of the party in Benue State, but I am happy that the national leadership of APC has invited me. I am meeting them today (Wednesday) by 3p.m. I will listen to them. Of course, as the Supreme Council of the APC in Nigeria, maybe they can reverse what was done to me in Benue State. But I will go back to my people and still inform them. Then I will decide on what to do. It depends on the people; I am the people’s governor. It’s whatever they tell me that I will do.”
The meeting didn’t hold yesterday.
Speaking after the Sokoto meeting with Tambuwal, Secondus, who led a PDP delegation to commiserate with the Sokoto State governor over the recent killing of 39 people in Tabanni village of the state, challenged the Federal Government to live up to its responsibilities by stopping the killings and destruction of property across the country.
The PDP national chairman, who expressed deep concern over incessant loss of lives in the country, noted that Nigerians are now living in fear due to persistent killings.
According to him, President Muhammadu Buhari should focus on addressing the security challenges bedevilling the country rather than embarking on foreign trips.
His words: “How long will it take the government to put in place the necessary security architecture to tackle these problems? The Federal Government is doing nothing and the governors have no control over security in their states.
“Nigerians are now liv ing in pains and fear of the unknown because the killings are too many. From Zamfara to Sokoto, Borno, Benue, Plateau, Taraba and Adamawa states, what we see every day is bloodshed across the nation.”
Condoling with the government and people of Sokoto over the recent killings in the state, he said: “We are in Sokoto in solidarity to the people that lost their loved ones and I urge you to take heart in this period of sorrow.”
In his remark, Tambuwal expressed appreciation to the PDP leadership for the visit and concern to the good people of Sokoto State.
When contacted, Ologbodiyan described the meeting as a gathering of like minds.
Ologbodiyan said: “It was a brotherhood meeting. Our leaders met and they shared thoughts on the future of Nigeria and how to improve on the living condition of Nigeria and how to make Nigeria a better place for all to live in.
“It was a convergence of notable Nigerians. Do not forget that the essence of today was to commiserate with Alhaji Baraje on the death of his mother. When politicians meet, they must discuss politics and how to improve on the standard of living of Nigerians. It will not be wrong to say that some issues were discussed.
“I do not know when Saraki and Baraje will publicly declare their defection. I cannot speak on that.”
Also, Wike stated that they used the opportunity of condolence visit to Baraje to compare notes and do basic peer review for the development of the country.
He said: “When you see your colleagues, you need to compare notes and do peer review on what you are doing in your respective states.
“However, we came purposely to engage in the eighth day prayers for the late mother of Abubakar Baraje.”