Ben Dunno, Warri
A Chieftain of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Delta state, Hon. Joel-Onowakpo Thomas, has expressed optimism over the future of the party in the state, insisting he would stay behind to make the party stronger ahead of 2023 polls.
Onowakpo, a former State Coordinators of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), for Delta, Edo and Rivers States, who reaffirmed his belief in the party in a statement issued at the weekend, noted that there was no time he contemplated leaving the party either now or in near future.
He said this clarification had become imperative to set the record straight against the background of a wide spread speculations that he was mulling defection back to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), following the recent defection of former governor of Delta state, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, to PDP.
The party stalwart, said that he was not leaving a party where he is card carrying member and had emerged as the one and only (unopposed, unanimously adopted) House of Representatives candidate in the 2019 election.
He urged his constituent members to remain focus and steadfast, saying that despite the challenges the party is currently facing, it would rebound.
The Majidadin Kaigama of Katsina, in the terse message made available to newsmen said, “Let me put it on records here that, I am a member of the APC, a card carrying member of the APC, the one and only(unopposed, unanimously adopted) House of Representatives candidate of the party in 2019 election.
“I have no plans now or in the near future to leave the APC for another party. (This is without prejudice to my rights to choice of association). If there are rumors (which is usual in politics), please ignore same.
“I am therefore encouraging all of you to remain focused and build bridges and support all the organs of the party in the Federal constituency.
“We may be in difficult times, but I believe with perseverance, we will overcome. Many thanks and God bless you richly in Jesus Christ Name Amen”, Onowakpo wrote.
Recalls that Onowakpo, a protege of former governor, Dr Uduaghan had resigned his membership of the PDP at his local Emede Ward 05 in Isoko South Local Government Area of the state in July, 2018.
He later joined the APC same month where he contested for Isoko Federal Constituency in the 2019 general election but lost to incumbent House of Representative member, Hon. Leo Ogor.
Meanwhile, a political association of Onowakpo who preferred anonymity said, “it was imperative for him to clear the air knowing fully well the political gimmicks and scandals the rumour peddlers are fostering to dent his scintillating and blazing political image. It is better earlier to clear the air and put a stop to this shenanigans.
“It is undoubtedly true that the ex-governor of Delta State, His Excellency, Dr Emmanuel Ewetan Uduaghan, is a longtime friend and was a boss, in which during his reign as the number one citizen of Delta State, Hon Joel-Onowakpo Thomas served in full capacity as the Chairman, Delta State Board of Internal Revenue.
“It is also true that coincidentally, both men decamped to the ruling party, APC, to pursue their respective political ambitions and to join hands with fellow party members of the APC and the President of our great Nation, President Muhammadu Buhari, to achieve and fulfill his campaign promises to over one hundred and eighty million Nigerians, at home and in diaspora.
“Why His Excellency, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan has deemed it necessary to return back to the PDP, which it his right according to Section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, Hon Joel-Onowakpo Thomas has deemed it sacrosanct to reiterate his commitment to APC and the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari”, his close ally added.
This medium had reported that Onowakpo, in the recent open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, expressed concern that APC political stability beyond 2023 political year could be in jeopardy.
The APC chieftain, in the letter however, enthused that the party will survive beyond 2023…”if and only if you (Buhari) are able to institutionalise your very core values, which makes you who you are and makes you stand out amongst the lot to entrench a new and better Nigeria”.
He said that APC as a ruling party needs more than eight years to be able to make the difference and for these values to be visible and adopted by every Nigerian.
Onowakpo, however, said that for the party to fare well beyond 2023, President Buhari should as a matter of urgency restrategise his team and cabinet by putting square pegs in square holes, by identifying those who sacrificed a lot against all odds to ensure his victory during the 2019 presidential election.