More reactions yesterday trailed the defection of Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, to the All Progressives Congress (APC), as some prominent Igbo leaders said Umahi’s defection is a strong warning to the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to pick the presidential candidates of their parties from the South-East geo-political zone.
Their argument, Saturday Telegraph gathered, was a warning for the two leading parties to put their houses in order, and that the two parties have no choice other than to pick Igbo for presidential candidates in 2023. First to air his view yesterday, on this was the former National Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, who said Umahi’s decision to defect from the PDP to APC, would help rather than jeopardise the quest by Ndigbo to produce a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in 2023.
Toeing similar path, First Republic Minister for Aviation, Chief Mbazurike Amaechi and former Governor of the old Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, warned that the APC and PDP should not to make the mistake of not picking a South-East presidential candidate.
The two elderstatesmen stated that should the PDP fail to nominate a South-East candidate, it would be to the party’s end, insisting that the PDP’s injustice on Ndigbo was enough. Arguing further, they noted that Umahi’s action was a selfish one in view of the fact that he was the Chairman of the South-East Governors’ Forum. Speaking in an exclusive interview with Saturday Telegraph, Nwodo, a former Governor of Enugu State, said the move would put pressure on the two major political parties in the country, the PDP and APC to zone their presidential tickets to South East.
He said South-East had been a PDP zone with APC only able to win not more than five percent of legitimate votes in the past, but noted that Umahi’s move could lead to balance of forces in the zone. Nwodo, who insisted that the choice to move to another party was Umahi’s right, dismissed insinuations by some critics that the move was for selfish interest, and argued that in the final analysis, people join politics for either selfish or group interest.
He said: “Umahi has a right to belong to any political party he wants to at any time. It’s his inalienable right; whether you want to criticise it or agree with it, the bottom line is that it’s his right to do what he wants to do. “You may say that PDP made him who he is, but that doesn’t mean that if he is at any point not happy with PDP he cannot change to another party.
ositive point of view, and that’s the reason he gave for the defection…because for me the ultimate ambition of South-East is to have PDP and APC nominate their presidential candidates from the South-East.” While urging caution on the part of Ndigbo, Nwodo said: “If we are able to achieve that some of us can go home and sleep on the Election Day knowing that a South Easterner will become president, head or tail.
“This is a fight I’m involved in and therefore whatever is happening in APC I’m interested, whatever is happening in my own party, PDP, I’m interested. “We are still struggling to get both parties zone their presidential ticket to us, then for me the battle is won, let Nigerians chose the best candidate that will govern Nigeria well. “If I get to the polls I will cast my vote to the person I believe will deliver the goods.
That’s the way I will like to look at it because it puts pressure on both APC and PDP looking at the reason that was given. “I mean APC is not strong in the South-East at all. It has never garnered up to five percent of legitimate votes cast in the South-East. This is predominantly PDP zone.
“But if APC now that has not been getting votes here takes the risk of zoning to the South East, it puts more pressure on the party that has been getting 95 per cent of the votes of the South East that they should follow the same.
That’s what I want to see.” He added further: “As for the reason that PDP has been marginalising or shortchanging the South- East, there is some merit in that reason but it’s not 100 per cent correct. For me we want PDP to zone presidency to the South-East to show that it’s our turn.
“We now have a Northern president and if you go to Southern Nigeria, South- West has had their turn with (former President Olusegun) Obasanjo, South-South has had their turn with (former President Goodluck) Jonathan, and it should be South- East.
“That’s the argument of those of us in PDP. And the move (Umahi’s defection) helps us to put pressure on both parties. “Any other thing, you may say its selfish but then at the end of the day, people are in politics for two reasons; its either for selfish reason or to attract things to their constituency, so whichever one you want to label him with, that’s your own judgment.”
It will be over for PDP if.. -Ezeife
On his part, Ezeife said: “Whatever is the reason for Umahi to dump the PDP is a personal thing and a selfish one though he hinged it on the injustice of the PDP on Ndigbo. “This idea of flip – flop politicians who jump from one party to another is not good for our polity and it should be discouraged. “But I must state here that if the PDP fails to nominate a South-East presidential candidate then it will be over for the party in the South-East. “This is because the APC is certain about nominating a South-East presidential candidate and this is what the PDP should do in the party’s interest in Igbo land.
Amaechi: Consultations still ongoing
On his part, Amaechi said meetings and consultations were in top gear across the six geo-political zones for Ndigbo to produce the next president of Nigeria. He said: “The meetings we have had in the North have been fruitful and they are saying the same thing and I had a meeting with South-East stakeholders, politicians on the issue of 2023 presidential election and the need for the major political parties to ensure that we get it this time around.”
Amaechi, however, send knocks on the way of Umahi contending that he should have consulted widely before taking the actions he took. He said: “We have a law in this country that if you leave the party upon which you were elected, you have to vacate the position because you won election under your former political party and you have no business being there at all.”
Confusion in Ebonyi PDP after gov’s defection
However, there seems to be confusion in the Ebonyi State chapter of the PDP, after the defection of the state’s Governor, Dave Umahi, from the party to the APC. In the state chapter of the party, two factions have emerged following the dissolution of the State Working Committee (SWC) of the party by the National Working Committee (NWC), which set up 7-man Caretaker The NWC named Chief Fred Udeogu as Chairman and Mr. Luke Nkwegu as Secretary. Dr. Gideon Osi was named as Publicity Secretary while Hon. James Alaka is the Organising Secretary.
Mrs. Amaka Igboke is Women Leader, Murdi Irenede, Legal Adviser and Barr. Ibeshi. A statement by the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said:“The decision of the NWC in this regard is pursuant to the powers conferred on it by the provisions of the PDP Constitution (2017 as amended). “All our leaders, members and teeming supporters in Ebonyi State and the southeast are by this guided accordingly.
But the dissolved SWC of the party led by Onyekachi Nwebonyi, said it was still in charge of the affairs of the party in the state. “My attention has been drawn to a press release by the national publicity secretary of the PDP that the National Working Committee of the PDP has dissolved the Ward, Local Government, and the State Executive Committees of the party in Ebonyi State because of Governor David Umahi’s planned defection to the APC.
“It is laughable to think that the NWC would just get up and dissolve a state executive committee because the governor or a few individuals want to leave the party. “We are in charge of the party in Ebonyi State for the next four years having been duely elected for a four year term recently. Our tenure will elapse in 2024 and nobody has the power to dissolve the state executives.
“We call on the teaming members of PDP to disregard the purported caretaker committee set up by the National Working Committee as such is null and void and of no effect,” Nwebonyi had said.
The Nwebonyi group of the PDP immediately announced suspension of major leaders of the party in the state, including Senators Sam Egwu (Ebonyi North), Obinna Ogba (Ebonyi Central), Michael Ama Nnachi (Ebonyi South), member representing Afikpo North/South Federal Constituency in the House of Represetatives, Iduma Igariwey, his Ebonyi/Ohaukwu counterparty, Chukwuma Nwazunku, that of Abakaliki/ Izzi federal constituency, Sylvester Ogbaga, his Ohaozara/ Onicha/Ivo federal constituency, Livinus Makwe, member representing Ezza South state constituency in the state House of Assembly, Chris Usulour and his Ebonyi North West counterpart, Victor Aleke. Others suspended by the faction are members of the state Caretaker Committee set up by the NWC of the party among others.
The faction accused the suspended party stakeholders of attempting to destabilize the party in the state and summoned them to appear before its disciplinary committee on Friday 20th November, 2020 and threatened to expel them if they fail to appear before the committee. Letter of the PDP Chiefs suspension which was dated 13th January, 2020 was signed by Onyekachi Nwebonyi Chairman of the dissolved SWC of the party and Simon Anyigor its Secretary and made public on Thursday night.
Our suspensions, laughable, huge joke-Egwu
However, Egwu described the suspension by the faction as laughable and huge joke. Speaking to Saturday Telegraph on the telephone, Egwu said: “I am just laughing at them. But you yourself as a journalist, know the truth. “In the first place, is Nwebonyi a member of our political party PDP? Is he the Chairman of PDP in Ebonyi State? How can somebody who doesn’t have the locus standi said he is suspending us? “It is not laughable and highest joke of the century? How can somebody who is no longer holding party office in our great party said he is suspending us? “This is somebody who was sacked by the National Working Committee of the party. My reaction on the socalled suspension will come fully.”
No plan to impeach Umahi-Assembly member Meanwhile, the member representing Ezza South constituency in the state House of Assembly, Chris Usulour, told Saturday Telegraph that the state lawmakers especially those who did not follow Umahi to APC are not going to impeach the governor for dumping the PDP.
“We don’t have such time to impeach the Governor for defecting to APC. We are thinking of how to give good governance to our people, we are not doing any impeachment, it’s not possible. The Governor has the right of freedom of Association as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Abaribe: His exit will fizzle out like Akpabio’s
The Minority Leader of the Nigerian Senate, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe has said that Governor Dave Umahi’s exit from the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) is getting more attention than it actually deserves. He dismissed as ridiculous, the reasons Governor Umahi adduced to his exit from the main opposition party in the country. Speaking during a television programme yesterday, Abaribe said Umahi’s exit from the PDP was of no significant consequence. He said: “It is not a big deal, in the next couple of weeks, it would have been forgotten. As a matter of fact, it will fizzle out like the Godswill Akpabio’s defection. When Akpabio was leaving the party for APC, some likened it to Tsunami hitting the PDP, but it was noise and nothing more.”
PDP: Nothing attractive in APC
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday said there was nothing attractive in the All Progressives Congress (APC) that would warrant any other of its governors joining the party. The party also dismissed the alarm raised by Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, that one of its governors was likely to defect to the ruling party, as mere hypothesis. PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said even Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi, who recently defected to APC was lonely in the party as nobody of note went with him. The statement reads: “If you watch his defection yesterday the only thing you have for Umahi is pity because he was lonely.
On the claim by Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, that more PDP governors would be defecting to APC, the PDP spokesperson said Bello simply went to entertain Nigerians. “If anybody tells you that 10 governors will leave PDP who would believe that? What’s the attraction in APC?” he asked.