By Chinelo Obogo
After months of speculations, Zamfara Governor, Bello Matawalle, is expected to formally defect from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Tuesday, June 29.
His defection is coming barely a month after the Cross River Governor, Ben Ayade, left the PDP for the ruling party. Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State was the first to leave the party and join the APC earlier in the year.
Matawalle’s aides had on many occasions denied the rumoured plans to defect.
Last April, PDP governors met with Matawalle in Zamfara and pleaded with him not to leave.
Daily Sun can reveal that APC national, state officers and other ruling party bigwigs have concluded arrangements to receive him in Gusau, Zamafara State capital.
National spokesman of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, told Daily Sun that the headquarters of the party was not aware of Matawalle’s plans to defect as he had not officially notified them.
“He has not written to us. In a normal setting, if you are a member of our party and you want to leave, you should write. The governor of Zamfara State has not officially written to notify us that he will leave the party.
“On account of that, we cannot say we are aware of his plans,” Ologbondiyan said.
When contacted, Special Adviser on Media to the Governor, Zailani Bappa, said he only read the rumour of his principal’s planned defection on the social media.
“Officially, I’ve not been informed so I can’t confirmed if it’s true or not,” he said.
APC which had been in control of the state since 2015 lost its bid to govern Zamfara following a Supreme Court judgment which ruled that the ruling party did not conduct valid primary in the build up to the 2019 governorship election.
The APC governorship candidate, Mukhtar Idris, had been declared winner of the election after he polled 534,541 votes but the apex court upheld the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division, which ruled that no valid primary was conducted by the party in the state.
In a unanimous judgment by a five-member panel, the court decided that a party that has no valid candidate cannot be said to have emerged winner of the election.
The court then voided all votes cast for the APC, from the governorship to the state Assembly and ordered that the runner-up candidate be sworn in.
Matawalle, who was the PDP governorship candidate and came second in the election polling 189,452 votes was then declared the governor-elect by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and sworn in.
The total registered voters in the state stood at 1,717,128 while the accredited voters were 823,294 with 792,938 as total valid votes.
The chances of Zamfara APC to retain the state during the 2019 general election began to wane after INEC said it would not allow it to field candidates because it failed to meet the October 7, 2018 deadline for conducting primaries to elect candidates for the elections. The commission subsequently barred the APC from fielding candidates.
With the new development, PDP has lost three governors within three months.