The Nation - There were strong indications yesterday that 11 former ministers during the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan may soon join the All Progressives Congress (APC).
It was also learnt that there is pressure on ex-Governor Jolly Nyame, Senator Andy Uba and some Senators in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to shift base to the APC.
An opposition governor is yet to make up his mind on whether to defect to the ruling party.
The planned defection of the 11 ex-ministers is all part of the ongoing realignment of forces.
Some of the former ministers are said to be looking for soft landing because of ongoing investigations by the anti-graft agencies.
A few others opted for defection because they are unsure of the future of the PDP.
The defection of a former Minister of Transport, Umar Idris, from PDP to APC last weekend was regarded as a “pilot test” for the ex-ministers, who are mostly from the North.
It was however gathered that Idris, whose defection shocked many PDP leaders, allegedly put Jonathan into confidence that “it is only politically expedient for him to leave PDP in Gombe State”.
It was unclear yesterday whether he planned to run for governor in 2019.
A top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “Some of them have opened talks discreetly with some key figures in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. They are bidding time on when to cross over. But ex-Minister Umar Idris braved the odds to defect last weekend.
“I think they do not want to lose out in the scheme of things. It is becoming obvious that the crisis in PDP might lead to the emergence of another party.
Another source said: “Contrary to what you have been fed with, it is the APC that is reaching out to like minds in the former cabinet of ex-President Jonathan.
“Some of us have been under intense pressure to defect because of the crisis in PDP.”
Some of the ex-ministers under investigation are Nurudeen Mohammed; Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro; Bashir Yuguda; former Minister of Power, Mohammed Wakil; Bala Mohammed; Diezani Alison-Madueke; Oloye Jumoke Akinjide; Amb. Aminu Wali; Prof. Viola Onwuliri; ex-Minister Nenadi Usman; ex-Minister Senator Joel Ikenya and Femi Fani-Kayode.
One of the anti-graft agencies has also grilled former Minister of Education, Ibrahim Shekarau; former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Aminu Wali; former Minister of Mines and Steel Musa Muhammad Sada; and a former Minister of State for Agriculture, Asabe Asmau Ahmed.
It is not clear yet if any of those under investigation is among those planning to defect.
A source close to Shekarau confirmed that some APC leaders had made overtures to him.
The source said: “Several of such moves and overtures have been made in the past but he has not uttered a word on that. He has not considered any. He is still in PDP.
“Don’t forget that Shekarau was one of the initiators of the merger which produced APC. And most of his political associates and friends are in APC. As a matter of fact, the present National Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, was Shekarau’s vice-presidential candidate in 2011.
“I am aware that there is pressure on him to rejoin his political friends and associates in APC. But he has not considered the offer at all.”
Reacting, the Secretary of the Forum of ex-Ministers, Prof. Abubakar Suleiman, said: “I am not aware of anything like that.
“But in view of the crises in APC and PDP, some people believe that there will be realignment. There are undercurrent signals or pressure from some sources.”
Ex-Governor Jolly Nyame of Taraba State and Uba are also said to be under pressure to defect to APC.