By Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Northern Operation/Ogochukwu Anioke, Abakaliki
Top party leaders beg Secondus to let governor go
Ebonyi lawmaker: I won’t defect to APC with Umahi
There are cracks in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over plans by Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State to defect to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Although the national chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, and some other concerned members of the party are worried about the likely effects of Umahi’s defection on their party, some other prominent leaders of PDP are unperturbed.
Some of them were even said to be mounting pressure on Secondus to allow the governor to leave the PDP.
The National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party may however be held next week on the decision of the governor and other issues.
A member of the State House of Assembly, Chris Usulor, declared that he would not follow the governor to the APC.
Some PDP leaders are disturbed that Umahi has been holding secret sessions with the APC leadership, including the National Working Committee (NWC) of the ruling party.
They are also said to be angry that the PDP machinery was allegedly used in Ebonyi State to “work for APC during the 2019 presidential election.”
But a few leaders asked the party leadership to engage the governor and give him the benefit of the doubt.
It was gathered that the advice informed the recent visit of the PDP NWC members from the South-East to Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital.
As a follow-up, the National Chairman of PDP and NWC members also had audience with Umahi in Abuja to “persuade him to have a rethink” of his proposed defection.
It was learnt that members of the NWC were shocked that Umahi was demanding automatic zoning of PDP 2023 presidential ticket to the South-East.
Secondus and others refused to make any commitment to the governor.
They told the Umahi that the party would resolve the zoning for the next polls after the submission of the report of the Governor Bala Mohammed Committee on the review of 2019 polls.
They said the committee was still working at the time the NWC had audience with Umahi in Abuja.
Some of the NWC members and leaders of PDP felt embarrassed that Umahi was hiding behind ethnic guise to feather his political nest.
A top source said: “Some of our leaders including a former President of the Senate, former Senators and ex-governors have had a meeting with Secondus to ask Umahi to go ahead with his move to APC.
“The affected leaders claimed that Umahi’s exit from PDP would enable the party to reorganise itself in Ebonyi State.
“They alleged that Umahi had been romancing with APC as the case with 2019 poll when President Muhammadu Buhari secured 25 per cent in Ebonyi State instead of the projected 2 per cent.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “These PDP leaders have done their homework, and from the situation analysis, the governor is of a minority group in Ebonyi because he is of Abia descent.
“Those who control the politics of the state are of Enugu descent. He is no threat to PDP.
“He is also from the same area with one of the founding fathers of APC, ex-Governor Ogbonnaya Onu, who is well-respected.
“Umahi will meet his match in Onu, who is the present Minister of Science and Technology.
“As part of the 2019 poll deal with APC, we knew one of Umahi’s brothers was proposed as a minister from Ebonyi State, but President Muhammadu Buhari retained Onu.
“So, let him go to APC to face fresh political hurdles.
“Our leaders think he is trying to arm-twist PDP to concede, but he knows he cannot speak for the South-East.”
A source in the NWC said: “A National Executive Committee meeting of our party may be convened next week to look at the complaints of Umahi, our engagement with him and other party matters.
”We are trying our best to prevail on the governor not to go to APC. We have engaged him in Abakaliki and Abuja to fulfill our statutory obligation.
“By meeting him, we felt his pulse in a manner that we will have something to report to NEC.
“At the end of it all, NEC will determine whether or not we should damn his threats to defect to APC or not.
“I know that PDP cannot yield to his demand for 2023 presidential ticket for the South-East now. Ours is a party with a constitution and other rules and regulations.
“It is also too early in 2020 to make presidential concessions.
“Even if Umahi shifts his political base to APC, he cannot get such a commitment from his new party.
“There is a committee headed by Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, which is reviewing our performance at the poll in 2019. We cannot determine our zoning or power sharing formula until the committee concludes its assignment.
“But it is obvious that APC is in crisis and it is nothing but political suicide for a PDP governor to defect to the ruling party.”
I won’t defect to APC with Umahi – Ebonyi Lawmaker
A member of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Chris Usulor, has said he would not be following Governor Umahi to the APC.
Usulor (Ezza South Constituency) said in a radio interview in Enugu that although the governor’s quest for the next president to come from the Southeast is justified, it can be realised in the PDP.
He said: “Our governor called us and gave us the liberty to make our choice whether to join APC or remain in PDP. There was no compulsion. It was a decision we had to take on our own without any influence.
“But the striking thing there is that the reason he adduced is something any Southeasterner should put in his heart. The marginalization of the Southeast should be key in our mind.
“The zoning of the president to the Southeast should be key in our heart. That is what he is agitating for. That is what all of us are agitating for.
“That notwithstanding, I took a stand that having been in PDP since 1999, I find it difficult to move to another party this time around.
“I think that agitation, I believe within me, will be done in PDP too.