ALTHOUGH A TWO-TERM SERVING Governor of Ebonyi State, south-east Nigeria, on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, David Umahi, recently, indicated that he would be defecting to the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC. Umahi, at a meeting with the National Working Committee, NWC, of PDP, last week, in Abuja, informed the party of his planned defection.
The past few years, particularly, in 2019, news were rife about Umahi’s planned defection to APC. His public utterances and body language, at events with the ruling APC, suggested that Umahi may have been bodily in PDP, but in spirit, with APC. Which indicated that his defection may have been wrapped up. But he was waiting for the auspicious time, and perhaps, event to hinge the reason for his defection.
In 2018, preparatory to 2019 general election, speculations thickened that Umahi, would likely contest his re-election as Governor of Ebonyi State, on the platform of APC. Surprisingly, he picked his second term return ticket on the platform of his party, the PDP. That was not the end of Umahi’s manoeuvring and romance with the ruling APC. Many believed he was testing the ground, on how to move good members of Ebonyi State ruling PDP, along with him.
Governor Umahi enjoys suspicious close personal relationship with President Buhari. Although in opposition PDP, he always spoke eloquently audaciously, about the president. He calls him my boss. And spiritedly, defended the president’s position on issues. And repeatedly stated that he would not criticize the president. After visiting President Buhari at the Villa, in Abuja, on an occasion in 2017, he announced that he endorsed Buhari for second term. Umahi, also, enjoyed foreign trip with the president.
January 2019, Umahi revealed that he rented 2,000 people to beef up the crowd that cheered Buhari at Abakiliki Township Stadium, during the presidential election campaign in Ebonyi State. He said he took the decision to save the president from the embarrassment of meeting an empty stadium, because the All Progressive Congress, APC, was not on ground in the State.
THE CLOUD AGAIN thickens, in the past few weeks, on Umahi’s planned defection, to the All Progressive Congress, APC. Last week, he met with PDP National Working Committee, NWC, in Abuja, on his planned move to join the APC. The reason he gave was the interest of the APC to cede 2023 presidential slot to the south-east. And the PDP has made no move on the issue. The PDP National Working Committed, was said to have spiritedly, tried to persuade Governor Umahi from making the move.
On Arise TV “Morning Show”, Monday, PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the party has not started discussion on zoning the presidential ticket for 2023 election. On Umahi’s planned defection, he said the concerns raised by Umahi on the fate of south-east in the 2023 presidential election were genuine concerns.
Ologbondiyan said, when the times comes, all variables would be considered, and all the issues taken into consideration; the party would take its decision. The PDP, he said, is not a party that could be stampeded. “We are not a party that takes decision on the impulse of one or two individuals”.
“We are a structured political party – we have our various organs and decisions as important as the zoning of the number one office is not a decision that can be taken at a sitting; it is a decision that must be taken round all the interests and the organs of our party. We haven’t even started the discussion, that’s the honest truth”, he said.
He said concerns were raised, and the party was studying all the concerns. “I believe all these will come into play when the party wants to make a decision but as we speak, we have not reached that level”. And added that PDP was not bothered which part of the country, the All Progressives Congress, zone the presidential ticket for the 2023 election.
Ologbondiyan alleged that “some disgruntled APC members” were working at pulling members of the PDP, to form a third force in the next general elections. His words: “We are aware in the Peoples Democratic Party that there are those who are losing out in APC and they are contemplating a third force just as they did in 2014 and as such, they are looking at coming to the PDP and break the party by taking members of the PDP to create a new political party.
“The PDP is a holistic political party and we are not going to allow distractions. The leadership of the PDP under Prince Uche Secondus is steadying the party for the purpose for which Nigerians are aligning with us come 2023,” he stated.
The PDP National Executive Council, NEC, he said, would meet, Thursday to consider issues lingering in the nation and the party.
Political analysts believe that Governor Umahi, may be taking a costly plunge, from the known to the unknown. They augue that at a time when the political fortune and future of the ruling All Progress Congress, APC, were decling, Umahi is ensgranged with his party, the Peoples Democatic Party, PDP, that provided him the platform for serving two-terms as Governor of Ebonyi State, with the move of defecting to the APC.