ABUBAKAR KAWU BARAJE, former National Chairman of a splinter group from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that called itself “new PDP”, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, National Secretary to the group and other members that defected to the All Progressive Congress, APC, before the 2015 general elections in Nigeria are counting the cost of their adventurous fusion with APC.
A letter addressed to the ruling APC National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun and signed by Baraje and Oyinlola, the splinter group accused the party of marginalization against its members in appointments into “cabinet position, boards of government agencies and paralstats, and working to block the emergence of Bukola Saraki as Senate President and Yakubu Dogara as Speaker of House of Representatives in 2015.
The letter, among others, stated that the ruling APC government does not seek the views and opinion of its members on decisions taken by the party. It also stated that its members were been harassed; thought did not give details of how these have played out against members of the splinter group.
Baraje and his group, in the letter, requested APC National Chairman, Odigie-Oyegun, to respond and arrange a meeting, within seven days from the date of receipt of the letter [Wednesday, May 09, 2018]. “Given the constraining factor of available time and in the interest of our great party, it is strongly advised that the said urgent meeting be held not later than seven  days from the date of the receipt of this letter”, the group said.
After August 31, 2013, special convention of the PDP that produced Bamanga Tukur as chairman of the party, Kawu Baraje, at a press conference in Abuja unveiled his faction — the “new PDP”. He accused the leadership of the PDP of “increasing repression, restrictions of freedom of association, arbitrary suspension of members and other such violations of democratic principles by a faction of our party led by Alhaji Bamanga Tukur”.
“Not only has the constitution of the party been serially abused by Alhaji Tukur and his fellow travelers, all the organs of the party have been rendered virtually ineffectual by a few people who act as though above the law. Unfortunately, it is obvious that that they get encouragement from the presidency whose old calculations are geared towards shutting out any real or imagined opposition ahead of the party’s presidential primaries for the 2015 elections”, Baraje further stated.
Incensed by Baraje’s action, Bamanga Tukur took legal option. He instituted a case at the Federal High Court, Abuja, to restrain Baraje and two others as executive members of the PDP. Others mentioned in the suit are factional Deputy National Chairman, Sam Jaja, factional National Secretary, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar.
October 2013, an Abuja High Court ordered Baraje-led faction to desist from parading itself as parallel faction of PDP. The court recognized Bamanga Tukur-led National Working Committee elected at the special national convention on August 31 as the party’s the authentic leadership.
November 2013, after about three hours meeting at the Kano State Governor’s lodge in Abuja, Kawu Baraje read a communique of the meeting jointly signed by Bisi Akande of APC that “after exhaustive deliberations, the two parties [“new PDP” and APC] agreed to merge in order to rescue our fledging democracy and the nation”.
Garba Shehu, former Vice President Atiku’s Media Aide, thereafter, issued a signed statement that the merger of the splinter group of “new PDP” and APC was “a positive step”. Garba Shehu’s statement said Atiku believed in true democracy based on freedom of association as guaranteed in Nigerian constitution.
“I also long for a day where we celebrate a multi-party system where political parties make improving the lives of Nigerians their top priority, instead of our current politics of corrupt cronyism and personal destruction. Today’s news is a positive step in both directions,” Atiku was quoted to have said.
When five PDP Governors walked out of PDP’s special convention at the Eagle Square, Abuja, in August 31, 2013, Atiku was among those who staged the walk out. Babangida Aliyu [Niger State], Sule Lamide [Jigawa State], Abdulfatah Ahmed [Kwara State], Aliyu Wamakko [Sokoto State] and Musa Kwankwaso [Kano State] were the governors. Chibuike Amaechi [Rivers State] and Murtala Nyako later joined the moving train.
About four years [2014 – 2018] of Baraje’s former “new PDP’ group in APC’s camp, things have fallen apart — can the fusion still hold? The group’s letter to Oyegun states: “We the members of the former New PDP block of the APC wish to reiterate that this letter is written patriotically with the best of intentions and the good of our party, the APC”.
The group further stated that the letter “is issued to alert the leadership of the APC and in particular, the leader of our party, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, who only recently indicated his intention to seek a second term as President, of grievances that exist within the party with a view to ensuring justice for all members of the APC family regardless of the blocks they came from prior to the formation of the APC”.
Seven days ultimatum given by Baraje’s group to the national leadership of APC in its letter for a meeting to address their grievances would expire in few days time. Would APC leadership accede to a meeting with the former “new PDP” group? Would issues of concern raised by the group be satisfactorily addressed, the group’s demands met and Baraje and his group would still wish to remain in APC? It does not seem feasible.
Olagunsoye Oyinlola has been hobnobbing with former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Coalition for Nigerian Movement, CNM. He has also been championing the values of the coalition. As an Obasanjo’s man, Oyinlola would inevitably align with the former president’s movement to chart a fresh political career.
Obasanjo’s Coalition for Nigeria Movement, CNM, has taken a political structure, when it adopted the name African Democratic Congress, ADC. This was made public by Obasanjo at a media briefing, Thursday, May 10, 2018, in Abeokuta, Ogun State. The stage seems set for Obasanjo’s quest for political strategy to unseat President Buhari at the 2019 general elections.
Obasanjo has at various public comments described President Buhari as a “failure” in governance of the country since May 29, 2015, and requested the president not to seek second term in office. But President Buhari has gone ahead to announce his intention to seek re-election as president in 2019.
Officially, Olagunsoye Oyinlola has resigned his membership of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC. His letter of resignation from APC was forwarded to the leadership of the party and received at the National Secretariat of APC in Abuja, Thursday, May 10, 2018. He also resigned as Chairman, National Identity Management Commission, NIMC, through a letter he addressed to President Buhari and submitted to the presidency.
Oyinlola said his decision to quit the ruling APC, was taken to enable him pursue other political engagements outside the ruling party and to prevent him from engaging in any act that could “amount to disloyalty and conflict of interest”. He thanked President Buhari for the opportunity given him to serve. He said it is now time to chart a new course.
Abubakar Baraje may as well be heading to another political party.