In an apparent move to forestall the reported planned defection of some party big wigs ahead of the 2019 general election, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday met behind closed doors with Senate President Bukola Saraki and some governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the presidential villa, Abuja.

The governors at the meeting were Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara) and Aminu Bello Masari (Katsina). Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Ekiti State governor-elect, Kayode Fayemi, were also at the meeting.

The meeting had as part of its agenda the rumoured defection of the Senate president to the PDP. It was learnt that the meeting was convened at the instance of President Buhari who invited the Saraki to discuss issues bordering on reports suggesting that he was planning to dump the APC.

A source at the meeting told our correspondent that the president demanded to know from Saraki whether he was planning to defect and what his reasons were if it was true. The source who did not want his name in print said, “President Buhari is the leader of the party and as such would not fold his hands and watch very important and influential members leave the party.

So, he spoke to the Senate president concerning his purported planned defection and told him why the action might spell danger for the APC and the polity ahead of the 2019 general polls.

“The governors at the meeting also tried to convince Saraki to see reasons why leaving the party at this time would augur ill for the change agenda and the polity. They reminded Saraki of how central and vital he was to the APC government, and I think the Senate president may have seen reason with them, though his stance was still not clear as at the time the meeting ended”.

When approached by journalists, Saraki who arrived the presidential villa at about 4:18pm declined comments on the crux of the meeting when approached by State House correspondents. On his part, Fayemi said they met with the president to celebrate his victory at the Ekiti governorship election, adding that the ruling party will win the Osun gubernatorial election coming up later this year.

Zamfara State governor, Yari, who was also part of the meeting is the chairman of the Osun APC gubernatorial primaries, which is expected to hold today.  The new PDP faction of the APC, which Saraki belongs to, has already joined camp with the PDP and it is expected that in the coming days, more APC members will defect to the opposition party.

Also, leaders of the Reformed All Progressives Congress (R-APC) met with the leaders of the PDP in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, on Wednesday. Although the R-APC leaders were said have gone to the state to commiserate with leader of the new PDP, Alhaji Abubakar Baraje, who lost his mother recently, it was learnt that a meeting was held to discuss the absorption of the new PDP and the R-APC into the PDP was held.

Those who attended the meeting were Senate President Saraki and PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, who led members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC). Governors at the meeting included Samuel Ortom (Benue), Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto) and Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara) and Nyesom Wike (Rivers).