While President Muhammadu Buhari is busy fighting corruption and concentrating on governance, the political class is playing a dangerous game ahead of 2019 polls. The common understanding among the political class, including the president’s party members, is that Buhari should not be returned in 2019, even if he so desires. New Telegraph reliably learnt that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has launched an infiltration agenda into the governing All Progressives Congress (APC)’s fold.
The continuous influx of PDP members into APC, almost on a daily basis, is not due to any attraction to the ruling party, but a part of the larger agenda, the sources said. The defection of PDP leaders and members to APC has taken place in all the 36 states of the federation.
It was learnt that the defection of prominent PDP leaders is expected to continue. Just on Saturday, former deputy governor, ex-ministers and party leaders abandoned the PDP for APC in Benue State. It was the same trend in Cross River and Rivers states at the weekend.
The target is to sufficiently infiltrate the ruling party and take over its structures ahead of 2019. After series of strategic meetings by some forces in the PDP, influential party leaders, including serving and former public office holders, have been recruited into the plan.
Their mission is to defect to APC with their loyalists or encourage their supporters to join the governing party and, in some instances, fund the plot. Already, four scenarios have emerged in the ongoing scramble for the soul of the APC by PDP and its elements.
One, the massive defection of PDP members to APC is to hijack the structures of the governing party ahead of its congresses and convention and 2019 polls.
Two, the defection is to have enough people to build an internal opposition in the APC.
The third scenario is using defection as a safety valve from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by those who have corruption cases. There are others who, for sheer opportunism, have defected to the APC.
At present, the structures of the APC are being shared by the three legacy parties – the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigerian People’s Party (ANPP) and a faction of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). Apart from the PDP masterminding these massive defections, the other gladiators involved in this plot are power brokers, especially presidential aspirants, who are interested in controlling APC structures.
Former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Governors Nasir el-Rufai, Aminu Tambuwal, Rochas Okorocha and Rauf Aregbesola, among others, are also involved in the recruitment of PDP members into APC for diverse reasons – to provide strong formidable front and to advance their political aspirations. A Tambuwal is expected to be created in Hon. Yakubu Dogara, the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Also, former President Olusegun Obasanjo is encouraging some PDP elements into the APC. Unfortunately for President Buhari, the core APC stakeholders who were supposed to provide a check and balance have maintained a siddon look attitude. A large number of party leaders are disappointed because they were not carried along in the government, especially with the appointments made so far. Hence, PDP is building on the naivety of the APC. Already, the infiltration agenda of the PDP had paid off in Bayelsa State.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor Seriake Dickson successfully executed the plot in the oil-rich state for the governorship poll, which the PDP won. New Telegraph reliably learnt that both Jonathan and Dickson encouraged some PDP leaders in the state to defect to APC for strategic reasons. While APC was celebrating the harvest of PDP leaders in its camp, Dickson was on top of the situation such that no serious strategic meetings within the camp of APC and its governorship candidate in the December 5, 2015 election, Timipre Sylva, was held without his men being in attendance.
“The Bayelsa governor infiltrated the APC leadership in the state and the party’s campaign organisation such that he had every information and plot against his re-election. All the plans of the APC to win the election were leaked to the PDP. This is why Dickson was able to win the hard-fought election,” a source in the know told New Telegraph.
With a success of the infiltration agenda in Bayelsa and the quest to return to power in 2019, the opposition PDP has intensified its efforts to take over the APC structures, weaken it and or work for the PDP elements in it. It was learnt that the infiltration of the ruling party is strong in the South-East, where the plot is being coordinated by two former governors. Already, one of the former governors has moved to the APC while the second one is in the Senate on the PDP platform.
The senator also coordinates the plot in his home state. Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, is also said to be actively involved in the strategic plan of PDP ahead of 2019. A former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives is the engine room in one of the South-East states. He has the mandate to recruit PDP leaders and supporters into the APC as part of efforts to take over the party structures in the state. Though, he is still in PDP, he is working for a power broker in the party.
In Abia, a former senator and two members of the House of Representatives, who chair two influential committees, have been charged with the responsibility of infiltrating APC and possibly take over the party structures.
It was learnt that a member of the House of Representatives is the coordinator of the plot in Ebonyi State. The plot in the South- West is being coordinated by serving and former governors. In Osun, Aregbesola has to contend with forces loyal to two former governors – Olagunsoye Oyinlola, Isiaka Adeleke and a former senator – for the control of APC structures for different agenda.
The Aregbesola, Olagunsoye and Adeleke forces are driving the influx of PDP members into APC to boost their political fortunes. But they are unaware of plots of the defectors to take over the party structures. A former senator is mobilising some PDP members into APC to boost the fortunes of a presidential hopeful. The case of Ekiti State is an interesting one.
Many PDP leaders in the state, including a former senator and national officer of the party, held meetings with some of the party leaders where they sought their understanding about their movement into APC Former President Jonathan facilitated the appointment of the former public office holder and his brother into federal agencies.
Other PDP leaders on their way to APC include ex-Speaker Kola Adefemi, Chief Oladele Okeya, Mr. Olu Akerele and Dr. Femi Thomas. Thomas is a former Director-General of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
He is alleged to have a case with the EFCC over the seizure of $2.2 million from someone at the airport. Aregbesola, at the weekend, held series of meetings with some Ekiti PDP leaders in Osogbo, the Osun State capital.
Former Governor Segun Oni, a deputy national chairman of the party, started a massive recruitment of PDP leaders into APC to enhance his rumoured governorship ambition. Unfortunately, the PDP leaders have a different motive of hijacking the party structures. A source said that Governor Ayo Fayose is poised to take over the structures of the APC in Ekiti. His political associates are working towards this. In Ogun, Governor Ibikunle Amosun is encouraging PDP stakeholders to join APC. With Obasanjo, the plot is to take over the control of APC structures from allies of former Governor Segun Osoba who is now in the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Former Speaker, House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, and Senator Buruju Kashamu are also said to be working with PDP national leadership to get a hold on APC in the state. In Ondo, New Telegraph learnt that half of PDP leaders that joined APC after the 2015 elections did so at the instance of Governor Olusegun Mimiko, who felt that infiltrating the party is a political strategy for his hold on the Sunshine State. Today, almost on daily basis, PDP members are joining APC in Ondo State.
It was learnt that a member of the House of Representatives, who chairs a powerful committee, facilitated by Governor Tambuwal, is working with other party leaders in the recruitment into the APC’s rank. The international community appears to be worried about the spate of cross carpeting among the political class.
A diplomat told New Telegraph that the defection into the APC is an unusual situation, which shows lack of clear-cut ideological delineation and identity of the political class. Former Interim National Chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande, last week, warned the party leadership over the spate of movement of PDP members into the governing party.