Talks between the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and members of the breakaway group of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), were intensified at the weekend.
A large number of aggrieved prominent chieftains of the APC had, on Wednesday, announced the formation of the Reformed APC, signaling their exit from the mainstream APC.
Membership of the Reformed APC, as announced by its chairman, Alhaji Buba Galadima, cut across the various defunct political parties that merged to form the APC in 2014.
Prominent among the chieftains being targeted by the PDP include the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki who is the de facto leader of the Reformed APC.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara and a large number of members of the two chambers of the National Assembly are also members of the group.
Friday’s judgment of the Supreme Court discharging and acquitting Saraki of 18-count asset declaration case brought against him by the Federal Government before the Code of Conduct Tribunal has strengthened the hands of members of the Reformed APC.
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Investigation by our correspondent revealed on Friday that Saraki’s acquittal by the apex court has rejuvenated members of the group, who had awaited the judgment with bated breath.
None of the members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP was willing to comment on the status of negotiations between the party and the Reformed APC members.
However, a highly placed party source confided in our correspondent on Friday that talks between the PDP and the defecting members of the APC were being wrapped up.
“You seem to be in a hurry to get information about how far we have gone. But I would advise you to wait till next week to get a clearer picture of developments in that regard.
“All I can tell you for now is that almost all the members of the Reformed APC are coming back home (PDP) because majority of them had their roots in the PDP before they went to join the now deserted APC in 2014.
“We are putting finishing touches to our discussions and there is mutual trust and understanding between us and our compatriots from the Reformed APC”, the source who pleaded for anonymity said.
Asked whether change of name for the PDP was one of the issues on the cards, the source simply said discussions have gone far beyond name change.
According to him, it was agreed at the last discussion that there may not be any need for the PDP to change name, considering the fact that the PDP is a brand that’s firmly entrenched in every nook and cranny of the country.
“If you will agree with me, you can see that the PDP has rebranded and things are no longer done the old ways. Our national convention held on December 17, 2017 was a testimony to our rebranded status”, the source added.
However, our correspondent independently gathered that there are still some knotty areas in the discussion, particularly as regards the control of existing party structures across many states that are not under the control of the PDP.
For instance, the various state executive committees in such states are already apprehensive that the structures of the party might be taken away from them and handed over to some prominent chieftains among the incoming members.
Some of the state executive committee members cited the case of the immediate past governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko who defected from the Labour Party to the PDP in 2013.
They recalled that the existing PDP structure in the state was taken away from the executive committee and handed over to Mimiko by the then national leadership of the PDP.
The development had created serious tension between old members and the new entrants led by the former Ondo governor.
Some party leaders had attributed the crisis that engulfed the Ondo chapter of the PDP and the eventual loss of the governorship seat in 2017 to the leadership crisis created in the state chapter by Mimiko’s re-entry into the PDP.
Similarly, it was also gathered that majority of intending defectors in the Reformed APC, particularly among members of the National Assembly, have insisted on having automatic 2019 return tickets to their seats as part of the bargain.
This has created a dilemma for the leadership of the PDP because if the demand is acceded to, many of the party’s members may have to be sacrificed for the intending new comers.
The party leaders are worried that this may create another crisis for the PDP that could lead to the exodus of a large number of party faithful who may want to pursue their aspiration on different political platforms.
Our source reliably gathered that the leadership of the PDP would be meeting with the leadership of the Reformed APC in the days ahead, with the view to resolving this and other knotty issues.