Defection: You’re on your own – Ebonyi senators, Reps tell Umahi

.. Imo APC, VON DG hail governor
…he won’t add any value to party -Ex-information commissioner

National Assembly members from Ebonyi State elected on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have said they would not defect to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The PDP caucus in the National Assembly was reacting to the defection of Governor Dave Umahi.

On Tuesday, Chairman of South-East Governors Forum announced he was joining the APC, ending months of speculations. He claimed his action was to protest against the marginalisation and injustice meted to the South East by the PDP, the party he had supported since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999.

He said he was miffed by the party’s silence on whether or not it would zone its 2023 presidential ticket to the South-East.

The governor predicted a mass exodus of leaders and members from PDP to APC in the region.

But federal lawmakers from Ebonyi said no member of the caucus was defecting. Leader and former governor, Senator Sam Egwu, declared that the three senators and five House of Representatives members remain in the PDP.

“Ebonyi governor is on his own on this matter and he’s the only person going to another party,” he said.

Regardless, the Imo chapter, of the party, in a statement by its publicity Secretary, Cajetan Duke, in Owerri, described Umahi’s defection as a forthright, timely, calculated political move and a true reflection of selflessness.

He said it would serve the collective interest of the people of Ebonyi, the South East and Nigeria at large. He called on other political leaders in the PDP to toe Umahi’s path to make Nigeria a progressive country.

“Gov. Umahi has demonstrated rare strength of character and political dexterity as an uncommon leader with clarity of vision and tenacity of purpose.”

He commended Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo for his leadership capacity and disposition which has continued to attract goodwill for the party in the state and the zone.

However, Chief Egwu Chima, former commissioner for Information and State Orientation in Ebony has insisted that Governor Umahi’s defection would not add tonic to the APC.

Rather, he claimed the defection would hurt the integrity of the party rather than reinvigorate and enhance its fortunes.

The one-time chairman of Afikpo South local Government Area said Umahi’s mission in the APC was known only to him.

“While in the PDP, Umahi’s love for President Muhammadu Buhari was a sing-song though Buhari has lost every election in the governor’s polling unit, ward and local government. Now that he is in APC, we are going to win elections in these otherwise weak areas. With the governor now in our party, Ebonyi will be counted as an APC-controlled state and no longer in opposition,’’ he said.

The APC chieftain also said there was no leadership vacuum in Ebonyi APC and that Umahi’s claim that he would take over the leadership of the party in the state and reposition, it as a farce.

But another chieftain, Mr Osita Okechukwu, hailed the defection as a welcome development.

Okechukwu, in a statement issued in Abuja, said the governor had made a bold move by joining the ruling APC.

Okechukwu, who is also the Director- General, Voice of Nigeria (VON), said Umahi had activated the Zikist Eagle Alliance in the South-East geopolitical zone.

“It is a welcome development, especially given the fact that he is leading the squad of his colleagues and other prominent Igbo leaders to reinforce the revived Zikist North and East Alliance,” he said.

Okechukwu said Umahi’s move would guarantee the popular agitation for Nigeria’s president of Igbo extraction, come 2023.

“It will be more than any alchemy; it will facilitate it, more so when he (Umahi) is the pilot of gale of defections we are expecting from the zone to APC. As the chairman of South-East Governors’ Forum, Umahi is opening the gate for his other brother-governors,” he said.

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