Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is leading the move to bring Senate President Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State and other aggrieved leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to join the Social Democratic Party (SDP), otherwise known as the Third Force movement, DAILY INDEPENDENT has learnt.
Already, there is palpable tension in the APC and the major opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the political future of Saraki, Dogara, Tambuwal, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue and other political leaders currently occupying top political positions in Nigeria’s ruling party.
While many in the APC believe that Saraki’s romance with the party is over and is on his way out of the party, others believe that he may be persuaded to reconsider his moves following the reconciliation team set up by President Muhammadu Buhari headed by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the party.
The former two-term governor of Kwara further left tongues wagging a fortnight ago when he alongside Dogara were absent at the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the APC in Abuja.
While Saraki and Dogara left the PDP for APC in 2013, Tambuwal who was a former Speaker of the House of Representatives joined the ruling party in October 2014.
Though the PDP is already hoping to be the beneficiary of the moves, DAILY INDEPENDENT gathered that events has taken a new turn with the coming onboard of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), known as the Third Force movement.
Sources close to Saraki may have changed his mind following recent developments in the country which has seen a mass exodus of key leaders of the PDP into the SDP.
The SDP which already has key leaders of the PDP such as Jerry Gana, former Minister of Information; Tunde Adeniran, former Minister of Education and a former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Elder Godsday Orubebe and others in its fold has said many leaders of the APC and PDP will soon publicly declare for the party.
DAILY INDEPENDENT also gathered that former President Olusegun Obasanjo, whose Coalition for Nigerian Movement (CNM) is already in talks with the SDP, has been contacted to pressure Saraki and other APC leaders to align with the SDP.
Sources said Obasanjo, who recently wrote a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari asking him not to seek reelection in 2019, has already swung into action and given his influence, it is likely that his moves may yield positive results, a source said.
According to our source, “Yes, I believe Saraki will quit the APC. It is just a matter of time. He has to be careful of making the move now owing to possible persecution from those that will be negatively affected by the move.
“Before now, we believe that the only alternative available to him is the PDP, especially now that the party’s longstanding leadership tussle was resolved and after the conduct of its convention but in the last few months, I can tell you that the permutations have changed especially with the coming on board of the SDP, better known as the Third Force movement.
“Don’t also forget that Obasanjo’s coalition is now part of SDP and they have said they will field a governorship candidate in the forthcoming Ekiti election under SDP. I heard Obasanjo has been given the task to reach out to Saraki and other aggrieved APC leaders. Given the kind of respect Saraki has for Baba (Obasanjo), I don’t think there is nothing he tells him that he won’t acquiesce to”, he said.
When asked whether the SDP is already in talks with Saraki and other aggrieved APC leaders, Tunde Adeniran said there is a committee set up by the party that is responsible for that but added that the party is ready to welcome every Nigerian into its fold.
“The SDP is ready to accommodate every Nigerian who is ready to serve the people selflessly, who believe in the principle of genuine democracy and particularly due process and rule of law. Everybody is welcome. We are reaching out to everybody.
“But what is important is that they must be ready to obey the rules and regulations of the party and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Moreover, we are a very disciplined party. Those coming must subject themselves to the dictates of the party but we are ready for everybody irrespective of their political divide”, he said.
Also on Sunday, some members of the APC under the auspices of APC Adalci Buhari Saka have given Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal 48 hours to declare whether he is with President Muhammadu Buhari or not.
Addressing a press conference at the NUJ secretariat, Sokoto, the group threatened to take further action if the governor failed to make his stand known within the stated period.
The group further accused the governor of anti-party activities which they said should be thoroughly investigated and dealt with as a matter of urgency.
“We don’t understand his romance with the leading members of the opposition PDP which was widely publicised,” it stated
It added, “He has a strong relationship with Governor Wike who is the perceived leader of the modern PDP and the national chairman of the party. He visits them and they come and visit him in Sokoto as well.”
Spokesman of the group, Professor Bashar Lawal, asserted: “We are giving him 48 hours to declare whether he is with Buhari or not and if he failed to do so we will do what is necessary.”
Lawal, who was flanked by members of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), alleged that the governor was undermining the war on corruption by terminating all corruption cases against members of his cabinet.
They further alleged that billions of public funds were squandered in the name of the electorate but there was no commensurate social infrastructure.
“But they keep blaming the Federal Government despite receiving successive funding as bailouts, Paris Club refunds in addition to the regular monthly subvention from the Federal Government,” he said.
Members of the group also accused the governor of persecuting members of the defunct CPC, citing the confiscation of farmlands worth N300 million of the former gubernatorial aspirant on the platform of APC, Aliyu Sanyinna and the demolition of part of the school owned by their spokesperson, Professor Bashar.