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Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi came under attack from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Thursday for defecting from the opposition to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The PDP held an emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting attended by all its leading lights to discuss the Umahi defection.
Its national Chairman Uche Secondus said the party will not be swayed by “Umahi’s antics”.
The opposition party’s Board of Trustee (BoT) Chairman Walid Jibrin said Umahi’s defection will not affect the fortunes of the party, adding that the governor was deceived by APC leaders to defect.
Jibrin said: “APC will disappoint Umahi and I feel sorry for him. The entire members of the PDP chapter in Ebonyi have assured us that they will not follow the governor to the APC or move to any other party.”
Senate Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe hailed federal lawmakers from the state for not going on a “frolic with Umahi”.
He said: “Our members from Ebonyi State, the caucus of the National Assembly from Ebonyi State, wish to use this opportunity to thank the party for taking a proactive action that strengthened their resolve not to go on a frolic with the governor of that state. I am telling you that the National Assembly Caucus very strong and intact.”
Sokoto State Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal said though painful, Umahi’s defection will not affect the fortunes of the party during the 2023 general elections.
Tambuwal, who chairs the PDP Governors Forum, said the remaining 15 PDP governors will work together to ensure that the party takes its rightful place in the nation’s political space.
The one-time House of Representatives Speaker said: “This is a clear statement from all of us, the 15 governors of PDP working together for the unity and stability and strengthening of our party.
“We are individually committed to good governance, providing leadership in our respective states, continue to make our party proud, to continue to make our electorate proud and we are repositioning our party for the future with the last drop of our blood.
“We remain committed party members and we shall continue to work with the National Working Committee, the BoT, for our party to continue to grow in strength and wax stronger and stronger.
Deploring the political, economic and security situation in the country, Secondus charged President Muhammadu Buhari to rescue the nation from imminent collapse.
He berated the Federal Government for the soaring external loans and lack of accountability.
The party chairman also advised the President to desist from its move to regulate social media and stop the “persecution” of #EndSARS protesters.
Rivers State Govenor Nyesom Wike maintained that Umahi nursed personal grievances against the party over the choice of 2019 presidential running mate, former Anambra State Governor Peter Obi.
However, Wike, who spoke on a live television programme, said Umahi was blindfolded by his presidential ambition.
He said: “When we had the 2018 convention that produced our presidential candidate, the Waziri of Adamawa, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, he consulted widely, and came up with Peter Obi, to be his vice. Umahi was livid because he wanted to produce or he wanted to be vice president.
“Why do you think that if anything comes to Southeast it must be you? Why do you think so?”
Wike said while no one would deny Umahi the right to pursue his political aspiration, he should be mindful of the political future of the Southeast.
He said Umahi had economical with the truth for insisting that he left PDP to protest the injustice by the party against the Southeast since 1999.
Umahi, Wike said, could not talk of injustice when he single-handedly installed his two brothers as the zonal vicechairman of the PDP and deputy state chairman.
He said: “If he believes in equity and justice, will he be doing such? It is because he has planted these people that the State House of Assembly had such effrontery to give the National Working Committee (NWC) ultimatum to zone Presidency to the East. Where does such a thing happen? No other party has done any zoning. You can imagine the level of selfishness.”
Wike also described as untrue the Umahi’s claim that he made PDP in the Southeast as the only financier of all of its activities.
He said such claim portrayed that Abia and Enugu states were not doing anything to ensure the success of the party in the zone.
Wike said: “I know it’s not correct. If not for Pius Ayim that impressed it on former Governor Martin Elechi, would Umahi have become governor? So, he can’t say he’s the one who has built the PDP.
“The party made him what he is and if he denies it, it only tells you the kind of person he is. What’s even his contribution at the national level of the party to support his claim? Where was he when people like Alex Ekwueme fought Gen. Abacha and built the party. I distaste such arrogance”.
Wike dismissed the allegation against him by Umahi that he was a dictator, who imposed Uche Secondus as PDP national chairman.
He described the allegation as spurious, saying evidence abound that Secondus was elected at the party’s national convention.
The governor accused his Ebonyi State counterpart of being treacherous, recalling that when the caucus of the party decided that Kingsley Chinda, should be elected Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Umahi told federal lawmakers from Ebonyi to oppose him.
Wike said when PDP loyal members tried to rescue the party from the destructive tendencies of Modu Sheriff, Umahi was one of those frolicking with him.
He added: “We fought and won and Modu Sheriff left. I can say that I am one of those who made sure that PDP never died. I feel comfortable with my performance in my state. Rivers people are comfortable with me too.
“For the first time before PDP left office, they (Southeast) have never had Chief of Army Staff. They have had Senate Presidents. They have had national Chairman of the party, they have had Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
“They have had Minister of Finance. Now, tell me what APC has given to the people of Southeast since 2015, Minister of Labour, Minister of Science and Technology and Minister of Foreign Affairs.
“Three Senators from his state said they have seen the need for South-East to produce president. However, it is not the way our governor is going about. This is not a personal thing. Your ambition should not destroy the entire Southeast.”