President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday waded into the All Progressives Congress (APC) post-primary crisis to avert further defections by its aggrieved senators.
The President met with 15 of 22 aggrieved senators protesting their loss of party tickets at the shadow polls, urging them to pull the brake on their defection plans.
No fewer than seven senators, including two top party leaders, Senate Majority Leader Yahaya Abdullahi and Senator Adamu Aliero, former governor of Kebbi State, have defected from the ruling party after losing re-election tickets.
The senators defected to the Peoples Democratic Party and the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
They attributed their loss of tickets to the overbearing attitude of some governors.
Fears are rife that APC may lose its majority status in the Senate and House of Representatives if the aggrieved legislators are not pacified by the party leadership.
Although President Buhari promised to look into the grievances of the affected senators, they told reporters after the meeting that they can still jump ship, if the promises are not kept.
Senator Adamu Bulkachua, from Bauchi State, who attended the meeting, shed light on the president’s promises.
He said the President promised that where possible, the injustices could be redressed while those who may fail to recontest will be compensated.
Bulkachua said the President was, however, silent on the kind of compensation.
Before yesterday’s meeting, there were speculations that 18 more senators may dump the ruling party.
To avert the loss of control of the National Assembly, APC National Chairman Abdullahi Adamu last week rallied other members of the National Working Committee (NWC), including National Secretary, Senator Iyiola Omisore, to a meeting with the APC Senate Caucus.
However, at yesterday’s meeting with the senators, facilitated by Senate Chief Whip Orji Kalu, President Buhari said the party leadership would sustain the hearing and healing process to ensure fairness, justice and oneness before the 2023 general election.
A source said the senators opened up to President Buhari on how governors hijacked the primaries to deny them return tickets.
They demanded justice before the 2023 poll to avoid an electoral disaster for the party.
Buhari, who claimed that he was aware of the tension associated with the primaries, said some errors will be corrected by the party.
The source said: “The President was painstaking in listening to our grievances and we were surprised he took meticulous note of all what transpired at the meeting in the Presidential Villa.”
Senators who took turns to bare their minds included Yusuf Yusuf, Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe, Smart Adeyemi, Tolu Odebiyi, Ibrahim Hassan Hadejia, Yakubu Oseni, Danladi Sankara and Sen Sabo Nakudu.
Also at the meeting were Senators Ibrahim Yahaya and Frank Ibezim.
The allegations raised by the senators were:
- Doctoring of party registers.
- Manipulation of the list of delegates.
- Use of political appointees to conduct primaries.
- Intimidation of APC members.
- Monetisation of the primaries.
- Announcement of results of primaries before voting, and
- Declaration of results without primaries.
According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President noted the complaints by the senators, adding that machinery had been put in place by the NWC to address the grievances.
He said: “In keeping with our ethos, therefore, I shall continue to address the ensuing challenges and grievances through the party machinery while paying keen attention to the outcomes.
“I must also remind you of the primacy of justice in all our actions. If justice is denied, the outcome is usually unpleasant.
“This is because you are the members who keep the party running. I should add that as part of the policy of using the party machinery for effective resolution of conflict, the Chairman and some members of the National Working Committee visited the National Assembly recently to dialogue with our legislators.
“The leadership of the party is currently addressing the outcomes as part of the way forward. I am encouraging all the party functionaries to adhere to the truth and to be fair to all parties in any dispute.”
President Buhari told the APC senators that the strength and victory of the party in the election will depend on unity, and the ability to prevent injustices and heal wounds.
Credit : THE NATION.