…Don’t trust him – Ezeife
…He is right – Iwuanyanwu
…His dream dead on arrival —Rep member
By Dirisu Yakubu
Without a doubt, the South-East geo-political zone has been consistent in its support of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, since its formation in 1998. Unlike the five other zones, Igbo people have relatively retained faith in the main opposition party for long.
Even though Theodore Orji first won his election to govern Abia state in 2007 on the platform of the defunct Peoples Progressive Alliance, PPA, he soon returned to PDP, on whose auspices he won a second term of four years following the expiration of the first tenure in 2011.
In Anambra where the iconic influence of late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu continues to loom large; the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, he formed has produced the governor successively since 2006. But while Anambrarians are quick to vote APGA particularly at the state level; they pitch tent with the PDP in Presidential and federal parliamentary elections.
In what appeared a reward for the zone for its fidelity to the PDP cause, the party’s Presidential candidate in the 2019 election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar settled for former governor of Anambra state, Mr. Peter Obi as his running mate; an election they lost to President Muhammadu Buhari who won a second tenure on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC. Prior to the 2019 poll; Atiku had pledged to do a single term in what bookmakers believed would have paved way for Obi in 2023 if they had won. The rest is history!
As permutations for 2023 begin, albeit skeletally, Ebonyi state governor, earlier in the week, quit the PDP for the APC, anchoring his reason on what he called the ill-treatment of the South-East and Igbo people by the PDP. Umahi, had in a week-long dialogue with the party’s national leadership expressed his resolve to change party, even though the PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus battled unsuccessfully to make him have a rethink.
“I have to lead the protest against the marginalisation of the Igbos (sic) by the PDP and I don’t have to consult anybody to lead such a protest. I don’t want the PDP to collapse in the South-East but it can collapse itself in the zone if it does not heed the peoples’ advice to entrench justice, fairness, and equity.
“The PDP should be bold to declare its stand on zoning of the Presidency to the South-East and if it cannot, should tell us why we are not capable of holding such a position but will come for our votes during elections,” Umahi stated while briefing newsmen in Abakiliki, even as he dismissed those who said political aspiration informed his movement to the ruling party.
“I am not vying for any position in the APC so anybody who does not like me over the defection will be fighting the air. I will instead play the fatherly role of guiding anyone who wants to vie for any position because it is a waste of time for any governor to seek to replace himself.
“When you are looking for everybody to be loyal to you in politics, you might not get to your destination because destinations are not straight but full of obstacles,” he said.
On how the APC seems different from the PDP; he continued: “The APC, however, appears to be amenable toward working with the South-East even though the South-East never supported it the way it supported the PDP since 1999.
“We would be 24 years with the PDP by 2023 and Ebonyi, under my administration, will testify the numerous feats we have attained with the support of my friend and father, President Muhammadu Buhari,” he said.
Politicians who change parties should not be trusted —Ezeife
Reacting to the development, former governor of Anambra state, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife noted that though defections have become part of politics in this clime, politicians with antecedents of changing parties should not trusted.
He told our correspopndent: “Unless, I am very wrong, I think the APC has already decided to make an Igbo person its Presidential flag bearer in 2023. I am surprised to hear that PDP has not done this a long time ago. I don’t know why a leader of the calibre of Umahi who is the chairman of the South-East Governors Forum should change like this. People have the right to choose the party they want to vote for or belong to but people who change from party to party should not be trusted because they may be looking for their self interest.
“We are going to institute a leadership in Igbo land which will make sure that people who come out to lead us are genuine and have integrity. We want people to win elections but they should also have our approval before going for the election. Many people are selfish and as you know, conscience is dead in Nigeria. We are praying to God to resurrect conscience but right now, conscience is dead. People are thinking about themselves and what they will get. When they have money to buy anything, they don’t bother about the morality of doing so. We hope that a new Nigeria will be unveiled by God very soon. And in the new Nigeria, anybody who begins to flirt about should be sent home.
Umahi’s defection in order —Nwanyanwu
On his part, national chairman of the Zenith Labour Party, Chief Dan Nwanyanwu hailed Umahi for mustering the courage to quit the PDP, saying for the past 15 years, the party has shown nothing but disdain for Igbo land.
He said: “I agree with him (Umahi) completely that the PDP has not been fair to the South-East. I am not in PDP, I am not in APC, but as politicians and observers, we agree with Umahi. Whether that was the sole reason for him to move is a different matter. Igbo people invested heavily their political capital in PDP and when you invest, you expect some returns.
“For 15 years, PDP did nothing for Ndigbo and the five states of the South-East. Our roads were bad, our infrastructure decayed. The only thing they did was to give appointments to their friends who benefited from them from those appointments. Even those related to those who got those appointments benefited nothing from those appointments.
“There was no cottage industry in the entire five states of the South-East for 15 years. Now, don’t say Dan Nwanyanwu is on his way to the APC but truth is today, APC has shown some sort of goodwill. If you look at the Enugu/Port-Harcourt road that has been bad for that period, they are on it now and they are doing quality construction. If you look at Enugu/Onitsha road, construction is going on there with high quality asphalt. If you look at Onitsha/Owerri road, they are doing it.
“Look at the Second Niger Bridge, for the period of PDP, what they could offer the South-East, was Public Private Partnership. They were afraid to award a contract running to 200 of billions to construct that bridge as was awarded to other geo-political zones. All they could give the South-East was PPP but President Muhammadu Buhari cancelled it and gave full contract which the government is working on now.
“I am not saying APC is better than PDP but if Umahi said we have not been treated well by the PDP; he is perfectly in order and his defection is perfectly in order too.
“He has sent a signal because the PDP for 15 years thought they had conquered the South-East and they are taking us for granted. They think come rain, come shine, we (Igbo people) are going to give them votes. But things have changed. Umahi should rather be congratulated than be vilified.”
Umahi’s Presidential dream, dead on arrival —Ex-Reps member
Earlier in the week, the Rivers state governor, Nyesom Wike argued that the reason Umahi left for the APC was to pursue his dream of becoming the President of Nigeria in 2023. If this is true, Hon. Ihuoma Ngozika, a former member of the House of Representatives has asked the Ebonyi state governor to quickly perish the thought.
Speaking exclusively to Saturday Vanguard, the former lawmaker had this to say: “Let me first of all say that I am a member of the APC but there is no difference between PDP and APC. It is the New PDP formed by Bukola Saraki and Rotimi Amaechi that gave birth to APC.
“We run a system that is bereft of ideology. If you ask me about Dave Umahi, I will tell you that he would have had a better chance of becoming a President if that is his ambition, in PDP than in APC. It would have been easier for him in PDP than in APC because an Ogbonnaya Onu, a former governor of old Abia state, a former chairman of ANPP, a former Presidential candidate, is in a better state assuming the party wants to give it to an Igbo man in APC. Another one is Emeka Nwajiuba, the Minister of State of Education. It is going to be a very tall order for Umahi. Yes, he is a sitting governor and a leader of the party in the state, which has only 13 local government councils. He cannot be the leader of the party in Imo state where there is Hope Uzodinma who is older in the party than him.
“Anybody who makes that comment that the PDP has not been fair to the South-East should go and think twice. PDP is an Igbo party. Anybody who makes that comment must be criminally minded,” he added.
If the words of Governor Hope Uzodinma are anything to go by; there is a chance more governors in the South-East will follow Umahi to the ruling party in the months ahead. However, it remains conjectural if the APC will keep faith with the South-East to produce its Presidential flag bearer in 2023. The waiting game is playing out and Nigerians will only be too excited to know how it pans out. So Long!