PORT HARCOURT/Nigeria: Former National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP), Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, has upbraided erstwhile nPDP National Chairman, Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje, and former National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, over their recent letter to the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), alleging marginalisation of defunct nPDP members by both APC and the Federal Government.
Chief Eze, in a statement issued on Wednesday in Abuja, expressed sadness over the letter and the ultimatum given to APC and the FG, purportedly on behalf of the nPDP bloc. He distanced himself from the letter, stressing that the writers cannot speak for him and many other former nPDP members, as the said letter was written without their knowledge or consent.
“The authors of the said letter erred and should apologise to the party, Federal Government and, of course, to members of defunct nPDP for acting on their behalf without their consent or approval before issuing such an unnecessary letter,” said Chief Eze, who disclosed that he issued the statement after due consultation with many other former nPDP members.
He made it clear that he has much respect for both Alhaji Baraje and Prince Oyinlola, but said: “After going through their letter of May 9, 2018 to the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the need to straighten some of the facts raised in the letter becomes imperative to at least to douse the unnecessary tension the letter has so far generated in the polity.”
He said it was “unfortunate that Alhaji Baraje and Prince Oyinlola could send this type of letter without recourse to me or most of the stakeholders of the movement, considering our key roles in making the nPDP the beautiful bride it turned out to be and in bringing the administration of Dr. Jonathan Goodluck down to its knees after teaming up with like minds in the mega party, APC.”
Continuing, the former nPDP Spokesman said: “This letter has generated so much unnecessary tension in the polity that some sections of the media and polity have already concluded that this will lead to implosion of APC and probably to the downfall of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and the return of PDP to power. Without mincing words, I wish to assure Nigerians that the letter though engineered by some of the key actors of the nPDP looking for attention from President Buhari to negotiate for relevance during and after the 2019 general elections but using a body that has already got dissolved in the bigger body of APC, is not in order and acceptable to some of us who risked our lives in projecting the ideals and vision of the body.
“Without sounding boastful, Nigerians were aware that some of us were targets of key actors during this struggle by the administration of Dr Goodluck Jonathan and still targets till date even after the struggle. Ironically, the authors of this controversial letter have in one way or the other benefitted from the administration of APC while nobody cares if some of us still exist or not. Prince Oyinola was appointed the Chairman of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) while Alhaji Baraje is occasionally given one national assignment or the other. While Prince Oyinlola has resigned his position as the Chairman of NIMC to face his new political movement as one of the key actors of General Olusegun Obasanjo’s National Coalition Movement that has dissolved into African Democratic Congress (ADC) party, Alhaji Baraje probably is looking for a higher form of reward or trying to raise the stakes in negotiating with those prompting him into another political movement. However, some of us – not minding that we were abandoned after the electoral victory of 2015 – are not ready to swallow our vomit just because of political porridge.
“In case some of us may have forgotten, the essence of teaming up with other progressive forces to unseat the PDP administration in 2015 was based on our collective resolve to fight corruption. Seeing how far the Buhari Administration has gone in this regard and bringing back hope to Nigerians, it becomes sad that some of us for political exigency want to go back to our vomit. Some of us should be excused from such venture because we will stay in APC to continue the struggle salvaging of our nation, Nigeria.”
Chief Eze then went ahead to address some of the major issues raised in Baraje and Oyinlola’s letter. Taking them point by point, he said:
“The seven days ultimatum: Issuing an ultimatum in this matter at this period when Prince Oyinola has already joined another political movement doesn’t make any sense because he has lost the privilege of negotiating with a political party of which he is not a member – likewise most of those associating themselves with their letter. Having said this, it is left to Chief John Odigie-Oyegun or President Buhari to decide whether they need to honour such an ultimatum or not. But if the APC leadership or the Federal Government decides to meet with them then such a meeting must be comprehensive to accommodate true New PDP members that are still genuine members of APC and not those that talk APC in the morning and PDP in the night.
“The issue of marginalisation: It is unwise for anybody to think that in a setting like ours, everybody would be accommodated or assigned a political position. The claim of marginalisation easily collapses when we compare the components of APC and the key offices assigned to these components. In APC, we have Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and, of course, New PDP.
“While the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria went to President Buhari (CPC), the Vice President went to Prof Yemi Osiabanjo (ACN), Senate President went to Dr Bukola Saraki (nPDP), and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara (nPDP). Can a group occupying the third and fourth major offices in Nigeria be rightly said to be marginalised? In the National Executive Committee (NEC) of APC New PDP has not less than seven members with the National Publicity Secretary of the party a member of the nPDP, so where does marginalisation come in while most of our members were elected Governors in various States, Senators, Members of House of Representatives, appointed Ministers, Chairmen and members of Boards, Ambassadors, etc? The only challenge is that those privileged to be appointed or assigned one office or the other abandoned most of the members of the group to wallow in poverty. Turning around to blame the leadership of APC or the government of President Buhari is a misplaced priority.
“Critical overview of the inputs of nPDP in this administration: Nigerians would like to know what we have contributed towards achieving the ideals and mission we set out for ourselves when we embarked upon this journey. Today the National Assembly where our members are the leaders are seating on the Budget of the country which was presented to them for the past seven months. With this unfortunate scenario, how does this government or Nigerians take a letter from us fighting for our selfish needs to the detriment of the betterment of the people of Nigeria serious?
“The fact remains that nobody is denying the fact that this body made huge sacrifices to ensure the success of APC but we should not use it to blackmail or hold the nation to ransom.”
Chief Eze described as particularly offensive, the portion of the letter that reads, “In the constitution of the Federal Executive Council, (FEC) the New PDP block was generally sidelined as virtually no position was conceded to it. The only member of FEC that belonged to former New PDP block comes from a State that contributed virtually no vote to the APC in the 2015 presidential elections.”
According to him, “It is unfortunate that such a sensitive letter addressed to the nation should reflect this type of language, forgetting that Rivers State being referred to in that portion of the letter was a theatre of war and still a theatre of war based on our resolve to join this struggle. For the authors of this misplaced letter to state that Rivers State did not contribute one single vote towards the success of APC is very unfortunate.
“The fact remains that every Nigerian is aware of the enormous contributions we in Rivers State APC made towards this struggle. Therefore, to suggest that Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the Minster being referred to in the letter – who happens to be one of the brains and pillars of New PDP – does not merit to be appointed into the National Executive Council is very sad and unfortunate. This portion of the letter exposes the authors and those promoting them as mischief makers.
“I therefore suggest the immediate retraction of the letter within seven days and apology offered to both APC and members of defunct nPDP for the embarrassment the letter has caused us all. It is clear that the authors had a misplaced agenda which does not have the future of this country at heart.
“I wish to encourage members of the defunct New PDP to exercise patience and support both the party and Mr. President so that the mission of the party would be actualised.
“Let me conclude with the wise words of the APC National Leader, Senator Bola Tinubu: ‘Democracy does not guarantee that you will always get what you want or obtain the office you seek. It can only guarantee you a fair opportunity but not your preferred outcome. There have been times when party decisions and actions went contrary to my position. Yet, I did not threaten to leave the APC’.”