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Though the official position of aggrieved members of the new Peoples Democratic party (nPDP), after their first closed-door meeting with Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, sounds salutary, there are indications that time may not be on the side of the ongoing negotiations on the redistribution of affairs to the likeness of the group.
Business Hilights recalls that the eventual flyover of nPDP members to the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the eve of 2015 general elections largely contributed to the emergence of APC as ruling party at the centre.
Answering questions shortly after the meeting with Osinbajo, Spokesman of the nPDP, Kawu Baraje said it is still too early to say whether they will remain in the ruling party or change direction.
Osinbajo met with the nPDP at his official residence inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The vice president led the government delegation while Senate President, Bukola Saraki, led the nPDP delegation to the meeting.
Other members of the ruling party’s delegation included APC Deputy Chairman, Lawal Shuaibu, and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.
The nPDP members in attendance, including Saraki were Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, Kwara Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed and former governors of Adamawa and Kano, Rabiu Kwakwanso and Murtala Nyako.
Others were Senators’ Barnabas Gemade, Danjuma Goje and some members of the House of Representatives.
Whereas Baraje described the meeting with Osinbajo as a good beginning, he was quick to make it clear that their main plan is to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Analysts say the reason for preferring to meet with President Buhari is based on the fact that only the Presidency can actually resolve all their grievances as listed in their letter which sparked off the renegotiation in the first instance.
Key in their anger is alleged marginalisation and harassment, among others, in the APC.
Baraje noted that “Members of the nPDP had written a letter to the party, copying the president and the vice president. So, the party had invited us earlier on and, yesterday, it was the turn of the vice president; probably the next one will be the president.”
On the level of attention given to their grievances, Baraje said “So far, so good. We are looking forward to some of the promises. There will be other meetings because we have been put into sub-committees and then, we will now identify specific and general problems and then, we will proceed to see Mr. President. But, it was a very good meeting.”
The group had earlier in the month, handed down 14-point demands and seven days ultimatum to the APC, over what they alleged was marginalisation of its members, since the birth of the current administration, which they helped to bring to power.
The letter was signed by Baraje and former Osun State governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, where they demanded an urgent meeting with Buhari and the APC leadership; to address their grievances.
They also listed lack of significant patronage and appointments to executive positions in various government agencies such as Chief Executives and Executive Directors of government agencies and parastatals, as some of the reasons for their protest.
However, soon after the letter was written, Oyinlola resigned as chairmanship of the National Identify Management Commission (NIMC), an appointment Buhari handed down to him last year.
The group had noted in its letter that “members of our block of the party continue to helplessly watch as these positions are shared by the erstwhile CPC, ACN, ANPP and even APGA blocs of the party and those who have no party at all…”
Other issues in contention included what they described as “general lack of consultation, non-recognition of their members in the current administration and the persecution of former nPDP members and leaders by the current government.
The letter noted “For example, some of our leaders are denied the security cover necessary to visit their constituencies, even though they are elected representatives of the people, in a government they sacrificed so much for.”
Last week, Shuaibu met with the group, on behalf of the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.
Political watchers say with the body language of other key APC founders on the demands of nPDP, chances of meeting even half before the 2019 elections remain slim.
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