Tuesday 15 November 2016

2019: South-west Leaders, APC Chieftains Realign Forces - Reach Out To PDP, Other Political Parties As Asiwaju Tinubu Meets Afenfere Leaders

Image result for Osun State governor, Rauf Aregbesola and his Ekiti State counterpart, Ayodele Fayose.
The crisis within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) may have prompted some of the party’s chieftains in the South-West to commence a realignment with their kinsmen in the opposition parties, especially the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), ahead of the 2019 elections.

New Telegraph learnt from multiple sources that the alignment moves were at different stages with diverse groups, particularly those who are not pleased with the APC-led Federal Government.

Although a cold war had ensued among the various blocs in the APC immediately after the victory of the party at the 2015 general elections, the relative peace finally got ruptured after the party’s primaries for the November 26 governorship election in Ondo State.

The party’s National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s scathing attack on the National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, whom he accused of taking side with the eventual candidate of the party, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, against his anointed, Mr. Segun Abraham, brought to fore, the party’s wide gulf.

On the other hand, the developments in the Ondo State chapter of the PDP, where Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), the candidate of Governor Olusegun Mimiko, is currently battling for the ticket with businessman, Jimoh Ibrahim of the Senator Ali Modu Sherrif ’s faction has alerted some party leaders in the zone of a possible plan of political annihilation from some Abuja-based political Turks. Relating the sequence of event to New Telegraph, a source who craved for anonymity said:

“The game has changed and the Northern bloc in the APC appears to have drawn the line against the South-West bloc, hence the need for a fresh move for realignment ahead of the 2019 polls. “It’s nothing new.

The South-West leaders and some governors in the zone from the party are the ones at the forefront of the budding coalition. Don’t forget that South- West is always progressive in nature and this new alignment is aimed at two sets of people; the former allies of Tinubu like the Afenifere bloc and some willing members of the opposition parties, who are ready to key into the process.

“Several accords have been reached and by the time the new path is unveiled, many will be shocked. Two governors in the South-West are involved. In fact, one of them met with the Afenifere recently.”

Choosing to keep mute on whether the alignment would lead to the formation of new party, the source said: “When we get to the bridge, we will cross it, but I don’t think Tinubu’s meeting with Pa Ayo Adebanjo and other Afenifere leaders was on how to form a new party, but on the need to collapse all structures into one for the South-West to speak with one voice.

“We were used and dumped by the Northern bloc of the APC loyal to Mr. President, but we have decided to take the bull by the horn and damn the attendant consequences.

Interestingly, we have the deep sympathy of the people and that is a big factor in the game of politics.” Several meetings have been held between members of the various political divides in the zone.

Though their outcomes were not made public, they point towards the realignment move. Among such meetings were those between Osun State governor, Rauf Aregbesola and his Ekiti State counterpart, Ayodele Fayose.

The former is a loyalist of Tinubu, while the latter is a known critic of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. Some Afenifere leaders led by Adebanjo have also met with Tinubu.

New Telegraph also learnt of another meeting between some chieftains of the PDP and the Tinubu bloc for a possible alliance. A chieftain of the party in South-West, who confirmed the meeting, however, refused to give details.

The meeting is said to have held in London. A PDP source disclosed that some APC members in South-West, who feel marginalised in the party, want to pull out.

“The truth of the matter is that certain sections of PDP want to pull out and merge with some aggrieved members of APC. A meeting was held in London apart from several meetings here in Nigeria,” he said.

He added that the picture of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Governors Aregbesola and Fayose at the airport, which appeared in most national papers last week, was not by accident.

The source recalled that Fayose and Aregbesola have been exchanging visits for some time, adding “but let’s see what this turns out to.” It was further gathered that the Ahmed Makarfiled faction of the PDP had been ready for the alliance months back, but for some leaders of the party who would not want the name of the party to be changed.

“They are against the formation of an entirely new party. They are also saying that leaving the PDP now is not the best option,” the source stated. He said the decision arose following the consistent frustration in resolving the PDP leadership crisis, which started last May. “We know all along that there is external influence in what is happening in our party.

Sheriff is work-ing for the APC to destroy PDP. They are the ones sponsoring him. That is why some people want the formation of a new party. But there are others, who are not in support. That is where we are now,” he added.

While the various camps have maintained sealed lips on the matter, an insider source told our correspondent that “Tinubu’s bloc is presently receiving overtures from some gladiators in the South-East comprising PDP and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) chieftains.

This is aside some politicians, who are believed to be out-of-touch in matters concerning the party.” Speaking on the development, the Lagos State chairman of the APC, Otunba Henry Ajomale, told New Telegraph that there was nothing wrong in Tinubu’s bloc aligning with other forces for the progress of the South- West. His words:

“There is no reason why we cannot have realignment of forces to become one and be like we used to be during the Action Group (AG) and the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) days.

“I don’t see anything bad in Tinubu seeing Papa Adebanjo, the late Olaniwun Ajayi and other Afenifere leaders and deciding at this time that enough is enough and that they must unite and come together like they were during the Unity Party of Nigeria and Alliance for Democracy (AD) days.”

Adebanjo, who confirmed the moves, also told New Telegraph that there is nothing wrong in Afenifere aligning with the Tinubu’s bloc ahead of the 2019 polls.

“Why not?” he retorted, adding, however, that, “It is not a question of working together; it is about those of them who walked away from those who put them in office for reasons best known to them.

They should think whether they have got the right thing where they went to or not. If they have hit the wall there, the common sense is for them to go back to where they left and we will welcome them. “In Yorubaland, no elderly man will send his bad son to the lion to be killed.

Tinubu has proved to be a disobedient boy; very stubborn. He has seen it now; then we say, he has behaved badly, but we won’t say because he has behaved badly, we will push him to the lion to be destroyed.”

But, former Minister of Transport and member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the PDP, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, played down the alignment plot

. “Let those behind the third force come out and announce a party. Political party is not easy to form.I am talking as an organisation man. Even if you have all the rich men of this world, it is not easy to run a political party.

So, we want to see how they want to do it to make themselves an effective third force. But as far as I am concerned, it is too late for me to start jumping ship,” he said.

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