By Ayo Fadimu and Suleiman Danjuma
The Social Democratic Party (SDP) has set the machinery in motion to woo the embattled national leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar as the party continues to plan to emerge the Third Force in Nigeria’s political arena.
Sources close to Nigerian NewsDirect revealed that the tenure elongation granted to the National Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party was seen as a direct slap on Tinubu’s face.
Nigerian NewsDirect gathered that since the NEC meeting came to close a fortnight ago, Tinubu had not made any significant move in the new job as the reconciliatory committee chairman of the party, an assignment given to him by President Muhammadu Buhari.
A chieftain of APC, who spoke with Nigerian NewsDirect under condition of anonymity said there was no way Tinubu could continue reconciling aggrieved members of the party because Tinubu is also an aggrieved member of the party.
A group under APC and the Lagos chapter of the party had rejected tenure elongation for Oyegun but the National headquarters of the party through its Spokesman, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi told Lagos Chapter to wait for the next NEC meeting of the party to ventilate their anger.
“We are still members of APC, but several options are being tabled before Asiwaju (Tinubu). At the appropriate time, we will meet to decide on the way forward” he said
When asked if SDP is one of the options he said “I don’t want to be categorical about any particular political party but you know Asiwaju is the much-sought political gladiator in the country, so many options are being worked out daily but we will make our decision known very soon” he responded.
In the meantime, the Senator representing Kaduna Central senatorial zone in the Senate, Senator Shehu Sani has warned APC against complacency and also advised the party to support Tinubu’s reconciliatory work as the party would be hit by mass defection if Tinubu’s committee fails.
He said there were many aggrieved members of the party who would flee from the party if they see that the party is hostile to them and their supporters
Another high profile APC member on the radar of SDP is the Senate President, Bukola Saraki. He has been having a cat and mouse political relationship with the presidency since he controversially emerged the Senate President.
Despite frosty relationship with the Presidency, Saraki has almost total control of the Senate, feelers from the Senate revealed that no Senate President who does not enjoy robust relationship with the Presidency has been able to have almost total grip of the institution like Saraki.
“Saraki’s case in Code of Conduct Tribunal is a ploy to distract him but the Senators know he is being witch-hunted, that’s why they are resolutely behind him,” a Senator told Nigerian NewsDirect in anonymity.
There had been rumour that Saraki was planning to defect to PDP but several groups within the party in Kwara State had staged several protests to warn Saraki from joining the party.
Also, the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar is also being approached to fly the flag of the party in the presidential election.
The chances of Atiku is getting slimmer daily in PDP and he is not likely to get the party’s presidential ticket as several names such as Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, Alhaji Sule Lamido and others seem to be at the forefront.
In the meantime, SDP has vowed to accommodate various interest groups in its effort to wrestle power from the ruling APC in 2019. The National Spokesperson, Adakole Ijogi, made this known in Abuja on Sunday.
He said: The party which earlier on Thursday announced its Interim National Working Committee (NWC) at a press conference in Abuja alleged that APC lacks political maturity and capacity.
The SDP also said it would hold a non-elective convention in April to accommodate all who have or want to join the party.
There have been reports that some aggrieved PDP members are planning to join the SDP.
One of those so rumoured, ex-Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State has since denied such plan.
The statement noted the need to promote the party’s manifesto clearly as the general election draws near.
“Arising from its maiden National Communications Strategy briefing, the Social Democratic Party [SDP] has resolved to set the agenda for the next round of elections and stir (sic) the conversation towards the yearnings of Nigerians for a better governed nation.
“It identified these to be primarily on a restructured, balanced, equitable and truly functional Nigerian Federation; A humane, free, self-reliant and democratic society; an inclusive, productive, pro-growth and sustainable economy; A just, fair, egalitarian and peaceful nation; A land of opportunities for all Nigerians; and a national culture of raising effective leaders through mentoring of young people.
“The meeting also unanimously resolved to be issue-based in all its media and communications engagements, in its bid to firmly re-position the Social Democratic Party, which is the only ideology-driven political party in Nigeria. On the nation-wide Roll-Out, after the Non-Elective Convention in April 2018, it was also unanimously agreed that the youth, women and emerging leaders would drive the process, as the internal political space with the party has been deliberately designed to accommodate this very important demography.
“The need to promote the party’s manifesto in a clear and easy-to comprehend format was agreed, with strategic emphasis placed on the party’s stands on a new governance model for Nigeria that will make welfare, citizen’s rights and rule of law the epicenter of its programs.
“However, it also observed that the gross lack of capacity in managing the economy and the political immaturity in governance by the APC-led Federal Government has brought untold hardship, increased sectarian violence and polarized the nation into ethnic and religious camps, in fact the last three years has been tales of disillusionment, despair and disenchantment.
“While also reiterating that all hope is not lost, as the Social Democratic Party (SDP) as a credible political party has come to stop the hemorrhaging and guide the nation back into the path of prosperity, progress and unity, stating that the SDP is ready to govern Nigeria at all levels.
“The SDP is directed, driven and defined by its core values of Justice, fairness, equity and progress; Democracy, good leadership, good governance and sustainable Development; Transparency, integrity, truth and honour; Accountability and zero- tolerance for corruption; Respect for human dignity, human rights and the sanctity of human life, Peace, security, harmony and cooperative solidarity, within the rule of law; International cooperation for a common humanity within a secure and peaceful world order.
“We are the party Nigerians have been waiting for and we are determined to deliver on our promises working together as a people to give Nigerians a new lease of life.”