Chijioke Agwu, Abakaliki, Tony John, Port Harcourt, Jude Chinedu, Enugu, Okey Sampson, Umuahia
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, has again taken Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi to the cleaners over his recent defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Governor Umahi was formally received into the ruling party with his deputy, Kelechi Igwe, by the National Caretaker Committee Chairman of the party, Mr. Mai Buni at a mega rally at the Christian Ecumenical Centre, Abakaliki attended by party big wigs across the country.
But Wike in a live television programme, has accused Umahi of being an ungrateful person for insisting he left PDP to protest injustice meted out to the South-East since 1999.
According to him, the Ebonyi governor’s claim that the South East was marginalised in PDP was diversionary as under the party, the South East got for the first time, Chief of Army Staff, senate presidents, national chairman of the party, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Minister of Finance, among others.
He also denied imposing Uche Secondus as National Chairman of PDP as alleged by Umahi.
He said all PDP governors and committed members of the party had never been oblivious of the fact that Umahi had been an APC mole in the PDP.
He, however, admonished the Ebonyi governor who was formally received into the ruling party in Abakaliki yesterday not to allow his presidential ambition destroy the South East politically.
Wike said while no one would deny Umahi the right to pursue his political aspiration, which is the primary reason for his defection to the APC, he should be mindful of the political future of the South-Eastern region.
He said Umahi became unhappy with PDP the day Peter Obi was chosen to run the joint presidential ticket with Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in 2019.
“When we had the 2018 convention that produced Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as presidential candidate, he consulted widely, and came up with Peter Obi, as his vice. Umahi was livid because he wanted to produce or wanted to be vice president. You don’t chose who would be vice presidential candidate of anybody. Umahi was livid. What disturbs me, why do you think that if anything comes to South-East, it must be you? Why do you think so? 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 South East,” Wike said.
He also dismissed allegation by Umahi of being dictator who imposed, Uche Secondus as PDP National Chairman as spurious as evidence abound that Secondus was elected at the National Convention of the PDP.
He described as untrue the claim by Umahi that he made PDP what it is in the South East as the only financier of all its activities.
He said such claim suggested that governors of Anambra, Abia, and Enugu states were doing nothing to ensure the success of the party in the zone.
“I know it is not correct. If not for Pius Anyim that impressed it on former Governor Martins Elechi, would Umahi have become governor? So, he can’t say he is the one who has built PDP. The party made him what he is, 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 General Abacha and built the party. I detest such arrogance,” he asserted.
While welcoming Umahi to the APC, Buni, who is also governor of Yobe State, commended him for defecting from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the APC, declaring him the new leader of the party in the state.
Buni who described Umahi’s decision as bold and courageous assured Ebonyi and South East people that the defection would benefit Igbo.
The acting APC chairman urged Umahi to be fair and just in his leadership of the party in the state, stressing that there was need for the party to work together in order to succeed.
Umahi described his move to the APC as true freedom and liberation, not only for himself, but Ebonyi and the South East.
He said he defected with over three million Ebonyians, including over 110 executive council members, over 1,200 Technical Assistants(TAs) and Senior Technical Assistants (STAs),13 council chairmen, councillors and all lawmakers in the state.
He also assured that National Assembly members from the state who refused to move with him to the APC would do so, adding that Ebonyi had not been known for serious opposition since its creation, even as he thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for supporting many development projects in the state and the South East.
Meanwhile, some eminent Nigerians have expressed divergent views over the defection of Governor Umahi to the APC.They spoke in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
President-General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo, said “it is not in my face to determine for a politician what platform he will like to operate from. That is his fundamental right. Umahi is free to do what he likes and what he is convinced about. I will not like to make any remarks on politics now because I head a non-political organisation. When it comes to the time Igbo will decide which side to go to, then you will have my view if I am still in office.”
Also speaking, chieftain of Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, said the issue at stake was constitutional and a question of principle.
“I can’t understand this; he knows best. To me, it is not a valid and reasonable reason for defection,” he said.
Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, said “our politics is largely about personal interest. Politicians have their ways. But the truth of the matter is that fundamentally, the political parties we are having now, there is no much difference between them. It is not about principle; it is about the interest the politicians are pursuing. So there is nothing surprising in what Umahi has done.”
Nigerian Presidential Project 2023, however, commended Umahi for dumping the PDP saying the entire South East supported the move and that governors of Enugu, Abia and Anambra states should join their Enugu counterpart in the ruling party.
Also, the Conference of 2019 South East All Progressives Congress (APC) House of Assembly Candidates has said the defection of Umahi would link the zone to mainstream politics in Nigeria.