Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, House Leader, All Progressives Congress (APC) caucus in the House of Representatives, has said that there is need for the party’s leadership to consolidate and stay in constant touch with its members.
He stated this on Thursday in Abuja when he led the party’s caucus at the House of Representatives to a meeting with the party’s National Working Committee (NWC).
He said such consolidation was critical following the recent defection of some of the party’s members to opposition parties.
“It is time to consolidate and make sure we stay in touch with our members and keep them close and continue to appreciate them,”he said.
The lawmaker specifically asked the party’s leadership to continue to fight for its members in the House of Representatives as some of them were first timers.
He added that to move the country forward, such members in the House should not be moved around, especially the first timers who had acquired experienced to become ranking members and had represented the party at the grassroot level.
“They should be taken into serious consideration and I think they deserve a second term.
“Because if they don’t come back we are going to lose the first six months to one year training the freshers. How does that help the party or the country? ”
He attributed the spate of defection of party members to lack of proper understanding of party ideology and called on the party leaders to develop and entrench its ideologies in members.
“We have our party ideology but we must begin to develop that ideology to the point that it is entrenched in the hearts and minds of every progressive member of the party.
“I believe it is the lack of the entrenchment of this ideology that allows people to cross from one party to another.
“This is going to happen in four years time again if we don’t develop this ideology”he said.
Gbajabiamila added that while some of the party’s Senators and House of Representatives members defected to opposition parties, Mr Olamide Oni, a new member from Ekiti State joined its fold in the house.
According to him, Oni defected from the Social Democratic party(SDP) to join the APC, which he believes will sell his interest better.
Mr Adams Oshiomhole, the APC National Chairman while responding, said the party had started the process of change and must sustain it.
“We must deepen it and internalise it, so that at the end, we will have progress because progress is the outcome of change,” he said.
He added that those who were not able to fit into the core values of the party could be changed out of the system.
The APC national chairman thanked the lawmakers for keeping faith with the party’s leadership in moments of temptation such as this.
He stressed that to deepen democracy in the country and sustain multi party democracy, Nigerians must be able to distinguish between one party from the other.
“We must work consciously to build a political party that is glued and bonded together on the basis of set of ideas.
“We need everyone of us who is on this progressive party to internalise these core values of progressive politics.
“It is contradictory for us to have in a progressive party with some people who are far right and even fascists, being in the same party with those on the far left or communists,” he said.
He noted that if the party members were bonded by same ideology, it would be difficult for those who subscribed to these ideologies to defect on the basis of not gaining personal benefits.
“I am excited that even in moments like this, we still have men and women of honour in the House of Representatives who recognise that there are values more important than dangling automatic ticket.
“We must remain focused, and I am grateful that we still have men and women of honour who have refused to be tempted,”he said.
He said that any legislator who had value and was at home with his people and not with the “godfathers” in their communities was an asset to the party.
Oshiomhole said the party’s leadership would do everything possible to retain such Legislator.
He further added that the party leadership would continue to talk to aggrieved members with a view to reconciling with them.
“I have continued to say that we will not pursue a policy that will produce winners and losers. I believe that we have intervened and have a situation that will produce winners.
“We have tried to revisit our Constitution and activate all the clauses that will help us to maintain unity and harmony within the house.
“I have said that for us to have peace and unity, we must fight for justice and fairness, because peace and unity is an outcome of justice and fairness.
“If you do not address justice, we cannot preach peace because peace cannot be decreed,” he said.
He added that under his leadership, decisions would not be imposed on members.
He added that the party’s leadership would continue to talk with members with genuine grievance, but would not negotiate with “political machineries”.