John Alechenu and John Ameh, Abuja
Aggrieved All Progressives Congress members of the House of Representatives have resolved to dump the party, following their inability to secure return tickets for 2019, findings indicated on Tuesday.
Investigations showed that the resignation would be done in batches, beginning from Wednesday (today) on the floor of the House in Abuja.
One member, who has been prominent in the negotiations with the party for a return ticket, Mr Musa Soba, categorically told The PUNCH that the members would leave.
He will be among the first batch to dump the ruling party today.
Soba, who is from Kaduna State, stated, “We have decided to resign our membership of the APC.
“However, this will come in batches.
“My resignation will come up through a letter to be read on the floor of the House tomorrow (today).”
Over 70 lawmakers had petitioned the appeal panel of the APC after they lost their tickets at its last primary election for the February general elections.
While some of the members had complained that the process was “manipulated” to favour some preferred contestants, others alleged that the party approved direct or indirect primaries in one instance, only to make a U-turn the next moment.
But findings indicated that the panel resolved the petitions of about eight members in their favour. Over 62 others lost the appeal.
When the final list of candidates was submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission in Abuja on Thursday last week, it was gathered that the majority of the aggrieved members were not captured.
Those confirmed to be on the list were the Chairman, House Committee on Financial Crimes, Mr Kayode Oladele, Mr Isiaka Ibrahim, Mr Baderinwa White, Mr Aminu Malle, Mr Goodluck Opia, Mr Mayowa Akinfolarin, Mr Lado Abdullahi and Mr Jimoh Oladele.
The aggrieved members have been meeting since the final list was submitted to take a decision on their political future.
The PUNCH learnt that the meetings were rounded off on Tuesday (yesterday) with the position that the affected members would leave the party in batches, starting from this morning.
Recall that two weeks ago, President Muhammadu Buhari had summoned the aggrieved lawmakers to a meeting at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in a bid to pacify them.
He had reportedly called the meeting following threats issued by the members that they would either dump the APC or work against it in 2019.
But, the presidential intervention did not do much to help the fate of the lawmakers.
One of them, Mr Ayodeji Joseph, had earlier informed The PUNCH that he protested the outcome of the primary election in his area because of manipulation.
Joseph, who represents Apapa Federal Constituency in Lagos State, stated that he even won the election, expressing surprise how his opponent was declared the winner.
He spoke more, “I won in the three wards. Initially, there was a disagreement over the method of accreditation of voters, whether it was to be by membership card or not.
“Eventually, there was election in only three out of the 10 wards and I won. How another fellow was given the ticket, I don’t know.”
However, the APC in a last ditch effort to get some of them to have a change of heart, has intensified efforts to assuage the bruised egos of some of the aggrieved lawmakers.
A top-ranking member of the party’s leadership who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue said, “We are talking and will continue to talk.
“The truth is that what we are dealing with is in most cases local issues. There were those the party felt should be given the right of first refusal in terms of return tickets but they had issues with their constituents.
In such cases, if you force such a candidate on the party and the people in such areas, you are sure to lose the elections.
“So, in such cases, we had to go for the lesser evil and allow the people will prevail. When we win the election, there are enough appointments to go round.”
When contacted, the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said the party had not given up on its members who were aggrieved as a result of the fact that the outcome of the primaries fell short of their expectations.
He said, “Immediately after the primaries we started reaching out to our aggrieved members. You will recall that even last night, (Monday) some of our aspirants from Kwara State were with the President. The meeting was part of efforts to heal wounds and that is going on all over the country.
“Everywhere we have such issues; the party is rising up to it. We do understand that conflicts are a necessary part of politics and it is the ability to reconcile people, ensure that people who disagree are brought to a roundtable and given an opportunity to first and foremost lay bare whatever the grudges are.
“And that you can get people to listen to you that is the first comfort you can get from your party. The APC has a structure to listen to anybody who has an issue and everyone will be given an opportunity. As party members, the greater good is our ultimate goal.”
He, however, didn’t go into specifics about what plans the party had in store for such members.