Storm over Umahi’s defection to APC

Storm over Umahi’s defection to APC

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Umahi joined APC to pursue presidential ambition, says Wike
Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State.

…Why we won’t join Umahi in APC —Ebonyi NASS caucus

…PDP ‘ll cease to exist in Ebonyi today —Umahi

…Two camps emerge in Ebonyi PDP, NWC appoints  Udogu caretaker chair

…We ‘ll challenge NWC’s decision in court, dissolved PDP  exco chair

…Expect all Ebonyi NASS members in APC, Chinedu Ogah assures

…Umahi’s exit won’t enhance APC’s fortunes —Senate PDP Caucus

…Challenges await you, Ohanaeze tells PDP

…I’ve no plans of leaving APGA for APC —Obiano

…With Umahi, I foresee brighter future for democracy —Buhari

By Clifford Ndujihe, Henry Umoru, Levinus Nwabughiogu, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Dennis Agbo, Peter Okutu & Tordue Salem

THE defection of Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the All Progressives Congress, APC, yesterday, kicked up dust in the state, and at the National Assembly as reports of more South-East governors joining him in the ruling party gained currency.

Eight federal legislators from Ebonyi State dissociated themselves from Governor Umahi, who will formalise his defection to the APC, today, saying they would not leave the main opposition PDP.

The PDP National Working Committee, NWC, which on Tuesday night dissolved the state executive committee, yesterday, raised a caretaker committee led by  Hon Fred Udogu.

However, Chairman of the dissolved state executive of the party, Onyekachi Nwebonyi, insists he is the legitimate Ebonyi State chairman of the PDP and vowed to challenge the decision of the NWC in court.

PDP ‘ll cease to exist in Ebonyi today —Umahi

However, Governor Umahi, who will formalise his entry to the APC, today, a day that the National Executive Committee, NEC of the PDP will meet to discuss the Ebonyi episode and other issues, boasted, yesterday that his departure will mark the end of PDP in the Salt state.

In a pre-defection interview, yesterday, Umahi, who insisted that the PDP has treated the South-East unfairly since 1999, said ,”tomorrow (today) will mark the end of PDP in Ebonyi” because he has the support of the people and PDP leaders in the satte.

Governors elected on the platform of APC and other top political players and party leaders are expected to fly into Enugu on today) before travelling to Abakaliki to witness his defection to the APC.

Umahi on his own —Ebonyi NASS members

In a joint press briefing on Wednesday in Abuja, the National Assembly members –  three senators and five members of the House of Representatives elected on the platform of PDP said Governor Umahi was on his own.

The lawmakers are Senator Sam Ominyi Egwu, Senator Obinna Ogba, Senator Mike Ama Nnachi, Hon. Sylvester Ogbaga, Hon. Igariwey Iduma Enwo, Hon. Chukwuma Nwazunku, Hon. Edwin Anayo and Hon. Livinus Makwe.

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Senator Sam Egwu, a former governor of the State who now represents Ebonyi North said no single member of the PDP, Ebonyi caucus of the National Assembly would leave the party with Umahi.

We’ll remain in PDP —Ebonyi NASS members

They said: “We, the members of the Ebonyi State PDP caucus of the National Assembly, wish to address our fellow PDP members and other well-meaning Nigerians, on the defection of the Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi from the PDP to the APC.

“For the sake of clarity, we wish to state that not a single member of the Ebonyi State PDP caucus of the National Assembly is defecting to the APC. The three Distinguished Senators and five House of Representatives members remain proud card-carrying members of the PDP, the platform under which we contested and won elections in 2019.

“The major reason given by Chief Umahi for defecting from the PDP to the APC is now in the public domain which is that the PDP has not been fair to the people of the South-East on the issue of zoning the Presidency and Vice Presidency.

“While we support that it is the turn of the South-East to fly the Presidential flag of any of the major political parties come 2023, we consider it impolitic, indecent and unwise to give ultimatums and conditionalities in a bid to secure zoning.‘‘

Supreme court ruling on defection may apply

“As democrats, we concede Chief Umahl’s right to join any political association of his choice. However, as federal lawmakers we are not unaware of the Supreme Court decision that candidates are products of political parties.

“What it means is that political office holders are not at liberty to migrate from one political platform to another, particularly when there is no division in their party.”

Umahi’s exit won’t enhance APC’s fortunes—Senate PDP Caucus

The Senate Caucus of PDP, said yesterday that it was not in any way fazed or disturbed by Governor Umahi’s defection, saying the move would not hurt the PDP or boost the fortunes of the APC.

Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, PDP, Abia South, in a statement by his Media Adviser, Uchenna Awom, said the exit of Umahi ”will surely not affect the party negatively or its membership eroded, neither will the fortunes of APC be enhanced with Umahi’s joining of the party.

READ ALSO: Defection: Welcome home, APC tells Gov Umahi

According to the  statement, the PDP had before now known that Governor Umahi was in his new party, APC in spirit before his formal announcement on Tuesday. “Abaribe also faulted Governor Umahi’s reasons of injustice and lack of fairness for leaving the PDP,  saying the PDP has been very fair to the South-East since inception.

The Minority leader said, “It is not true and very unfortunate for the governor to characterise the PDP in such light. Examples are legion, which shows that our dear party has reciprocated severally the support of the South-East, meaning that the party is not taking the support of Ndi-Igbo for granted. It is inconceivable to perceive the position of Presidential photographer, which Ndi-Igbo currently occupies in the villa as fairness.”

Expect all Ebonyi NASS members in APC, Chinedu Ogah assures

The only APC National Assembly member from Ebonyi State, Comrade Chinedu Ogah, said his colleagues from the state would soon toe the line of Governor Umahi.

Ogah, who represents Ikwo/Ezza-South federal constituency in the House of Representatives said: “I believe that all of them will join. There is no cause for alarm for anybody to flex muscles. There is nothing to fight about, what they should be talking about is conscience. What were they before now; would they have gone to the National Assembly without the effort of the Governor?”

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Two leaderships emerge in Ebonyi PDP

Meantime, a major leadership tussle is rocking Ebonyi PDP  as dissolved state exco led by Onyekachi Nwebonyi, claims it still on board.

A new State executive led by Hon Fred Udogu has  been announced by the NWC to takeover as the Caretaker committee.

A statement by the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan read: “Following the dissolution of the Ebonyi State Exco of our great party, the National Working Committee has constituted a state caretaker committee to pilot the affairs of the party in Ebonyi state in line with the provisions of the constitution of the PDP.

”Members of the Ebonyi state caretaker committee are Hon Fred Udeogu , Chairman, Barr Luke Nkwegu, Secretary, Dr Gideon Osi, Publicity Secretary, Hon James Alaka, Organizing Secretary, Mrs. Amaka Igboke, Women Leader, Barr Mudi Irenede, Legal Adviser, Barr. Ibeshi, youth leader.

The decision of the NWC in this regard is pursuant to the powers conferred on it by the provisions of the PDP Constitution (2017 as amended).

With members of the caretaker committee expected to take over shortly, the Nwebonyi-led PDP  said: “We are duly elected and cannot just be removed by mere pronouncement. It is a court of competent jurisdiction that can remove us. We are duly elected. We are in-charge.”

We’re going to court to challenge decision of NWC —Nwebonyi

Indeed, Nwebonyi insisted that the dissolution of the SWC was against the constitution of the party adding that: “We were dully elected in line with the party’s constitution, and any action on the state executives must conform with the provisions of the PDP constitution.”

Challenges await you, Ohanaeze, tells PDP

Meanwhile, the apex Igbo socio-political Organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and a Coalition of Pan Nigerian Presidency of Igbo Extraction, PANPIEC, have lampooned the PDP following Umahi’s defection.

Deputy Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Mr Chuks Ibegbu, said though Ohanaeze Ndigbo was not a political outfit, it is interested in the political interest and rights of Ndigbo and will support any move that will enhance it.

“Umahi took this decision after several efforts to see his former party do the needful and they were still dilly-dallying. Its not yet late for the PDP to do the right thing. Umahi is an Igbo patriot and should be commended for defending the political integrity of his politically marginalised people. There should be no brouhaha over the matter because he who wears the shoe knows where it is pinching him,” Ibegbu said.

Also, PANPIEC Director of Planning and Strategy, Chief Pat Anyanwu said the PDP should now know that without zoning its presidential ticket to Igboland, it will have a lot of challenges in the 2023 general elections.

I ‘ve no plans of leaving APGA for APC

Meantime, Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State has dismissed as hog-wash reports that he was planning to join Umahi in APC.

A source close to the  All progressive Grand Alliance APGA, in Anambra State, who described Umahi’s defection as a wise decision said that soonest, Obiano, who is serving his second tenure in office will also announced his defection from APGA to APC ”because the Anambra governor, strongly believes that the political future of South-East region is more guaranteed in the ruling APC, than the main opposition party, the PDP, which he alleged has not been fair to the zone since 1999.”

According to the source, after his ongoing consultation, governor Obiano will inform Anambarians and Ndigbo, on his next line of political action.

Faulting the claim, yesterday, Mr. James Eze, chief press secretary to the Anambra Governor, said the report is false, and Obiano has no plan of leaving APGA.

”This is not true. People keep making this claim. I have issued disclaimers to such reports many times. There is no truth in it. Governor Obiano is not in the same position as Governor Umahi, who was of the PDP. Governor Obiano is leading APGA, a unique party in the South-East, which he wants to strengthen in the interest of the zone.”

With Umahi, I foresee brighter future for democracy —Buhari

Meanwhile, President  Muhammadu Buhari, last night, said he foresaw a brighter future for the nation’s democracy with the defection of Umahi to the APC.

The President said that he was proud of Governor Umahi’s bold decision to dump  the PDP in accordance with his conscience and principles rather than any external influence or coercion.“Buhari, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said though people might call the governor names, it was the price men of principles have to pay for acting according to their conscience and convictions rather than opportunistic motives.

”I am proud of Governor David Umahi for taking this bold decision in accordance with his conscience and principles rather than any external influence or coercion.

“Good governance is very important to us in the APC, and I’m glad that the governor has cited this as a major factor in his decision to join us. I urge our citizens to pay less emphasis on identity politics if we want our democracy to make a positive impact on our country,” he said.

He noted that “with men like Umahi, I foresee a brighter future for our democracy because the voters will be more motivated by performance records of parties and their candidates.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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