“I was asked why are you leaving the PDP to the APC. I said as large as the APC is even the Central government controlled by the APC, no one man is running the party but in PDP only one man is running the party”
This was part of the speech made by the Chairman of Southeast Governors Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, while receiving the APC flag from the caretaker committee chairman Mai Mala Buni. Umahi formally defected to the party on Thursday 19 November 2020 at Ecumenical Center, Abakaliki, in a massive ceremony well attended by APC Party stalwarts, the State Government’s officials and well wishers across the country.
Different reactions have trailed this Development as the defection did not come as a surprise to many. There had been wide speculations prior to the moment of the defection that Umahi would move to the APC.
In an article of July 18 2018 article written by Nabob Ogbonna and published in Daily Trust, the Ebonyi State Governor had dispelled the rumours and was quoted as saying:”I can’t join APC with the kind of failed leaders it has in Ebonyi. The clarification is that my relationship with Mr. President is because he is Mr. President, and he is my boss and the relationship is personal. Mr. President or any APC person has never asked me to come to APC, and they will never ask me, and there is no reason for me to leave my party, PDP,”
Gov David Umahi had in the past served in different high rank capacities in the PDP: 2007as State Acting Chairman ,2009 to 2011 as State Chairman, 2011 as Deputy Gov under the party, 2015 as Governor and re-elected in 2019 under same umbrella.
One of the reasons put forward for joining the ruling party,the All Progressive Congress, was because of the injustice meted by the People’s Democratic Party to the South East.
Speaking with a very close source to the Governor who pleaded anonymity , it was deduced that the defection is a form of protest for the PDP disregarding the South East in their scheme of things: “Apparently, PDP has done no wrong to Umahi in particular but the people of South-East. As you know, Gov. Umahi is the voice of Ndigbo as the Chairman of Southeast Leaders so, he has the locus standi to ask for what is ours. We need South-East President and not zoning to us would make it practically impossible for Ndigbo to become. I am very sure that you know that Ndigbo has only 5 States so Nigerian’s injustice did not start today.
Now we strongly believe that strong message has been sent to all the parties not only PDP that we are not cows. We keep giving our votes without any agains. The west negotiates with them and they give their support and get something in return, why can’t we?
We have the right to compete with our peers and that is exactly what Gov. Umahi is leading to do. It’s no longer a matter of party but individual performance
He just stated that he is the sacrificial lamb for south East
Governor Umahi has achieved massive developmental strides in his state despite the state getting the least federal allocation in Southern Nigeria and labelled as one of the poorest states in the Country. The State boasts of over 14 flyovers , completed and ongoing, well equipped General Hospitals in each of the 13 LGAs, a world class Teaching hospital, new international market,ongoing construction of an international airport, International shopping mall, international stadium, a multipurpose ecumenical centre, world class vocational training academy for indigenes, 25km concrete reinforced roads in each LGA, Electrification projects , Unprecedented Agricultural revolution and job creation. All these he achieved in the PDP.
Asked if the defection will make the Gov laid back on these developmental strides, our source responded: “Umahi’s developmental strides is not tied to any political party affiliation. He is a man of principle, he is driven by his love for the State and humanity. Everything he has done reflects his personality, he is a man of integrity and God fearing. Would it make The Governor be laid back on the massive Developmental strides already recorded in Ebonyi? No!
APC will not take him a step backwards instead it will help him to do more for the entire South East. His very good disposition towards Mr. President has attracted so many things to our State which most Eastern States are not enjoying today. Indeed, PDP has lost their best striker. ”
In his defection broadcast he said:” Let me first clarify that I never sought for PDP presidential ticket and so, whosoever is saying that I moved to APC because they refused to zone the ticket to me is being very mischievous…Some people said I was promised this and that – there was no such discussion. APC never promised me any position, they never promised southeast any position.
However, I offered this movement as a protest against the injustice being done to southeast by PDP. That since 1998, 1999, the southeast people have supported PDP in all elections. At a time, the five states were all PDP and one of the founding members of PDP is from southeast, the late Vice President, His Excellency, Dr.Alex Ekwueme. And so, it is absurd that from 1998 going to 2023, the southeast will never be considered to run for Presidency under the ticket of PDP, this is absurd. And this is my position and will continue to be my position. Let it be known that I’m God’s project and I do not go beyond my calling. I Am satisfied being a governor and by the grace of God, for 8years.People can write all they want to write, it is not my business. In 2023, if God permits, I may be quitting politics and I will be very satisfied because the miracles in Ebonyi state may just be the reason I was born in the first place. I believe that this movement will cause PDP to understand that no man is an Island and no single person can be called a crowd. Together we are stronger and if people are shouting in this country of fairness, equity and justice and I stand in a place where such is not practiced then I have to re-examine my head. ”
President Muhammadu Buhari reacting to the defection said :”Reacting to the defection, President Buhari said: “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.”
State House of Assembly members and thousands of PDP members working in various capacities for Gov Umahi have decamped with him. In a related Development, the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP announced the dissolution of the ward, local government and state executive committees of the Ebonyi state chapter of the party forthwith citing that the decisions are pursuant to the powers conferred on the NWC by the PDP Constitution. This is not unconnected to the blow the defection has cost the opposition party.
However, Ebonyi National Assembly Members insists that they are not defecting to APC with Governor Umahi and Calls on all Ebonyians to keep fate with PDP.
Governor of Rivers State ,Nyesom Wike who seem badly bittered by Umahi’s defection , in a state wide broadcast had insisted that “…Umahi cannot talk of injustice when he practices injustice against the South East zone by single handily installing his two younger brothers; one as the Zonal Vice Chairman of PDP and the other as the Deputy State Chairman of the party.
I know it’s not correct. If not for Pius Ayim that impressed it on former Governor Elechi, would Umahi have become governor? So, he can’t say he’s the one who has built PDP. The party made him what he is and if he denies it, it only tells you the kind of person he is. What’s even his contribution at the national level of the party to support his claim. Where was he when people like Alex Ekwueme fought General Abacha and built the party. I distaste such arrogance”, he asserted.
We may not have seen the end of reactions and Counter-trailing this defection. A Social Media user has described it as “PDP losing their best striker they would have fielded in 2023”
We would watch as events leading to the big 2023 will unfold.