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Season of mass defections

Posted: Apr 8, 2015 at 8:20 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


•PDP loses 10,000 members to APC in Rivers

•Welcomes 20,000 from Labour Party in Delta

•Oshiomhole receives Airhiavbere, two others in Benin

•Jang allays fear of PDP’s implosion

By Francis Onoiribholo (Benin), Ekene Okoro (Lagos), Onoja Audu (Jos), Felix Igbekoyi, (Asaba)

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may be facing its toughest challenges in its over 17-year history as the loss of political power at the centre threatens its very existence, with party stalwarts and their supporters leaving in droves, in the aftermath of the March 28 Presidential elections which it lost to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).

The party also lost its 16-year stranglehold on the National Assembly, unable to retain enough seats to retain the positions of Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The defections are coming few days to the governorship and state assembly elections.

In the past weeks, the APC has received key members of the PDP including deputy governors of Jigawa, Ahmad Mahmud; Ondo, Alli Olanusi; and Niger, Ahmed Musa Ibeto; while that of Rivers State, Tele Ikuru, joined the PDP.

The APC in Rivers State, for example, is upbeat as it plans to receive over 10,000 members of the PDP who have indicated interest to dump their party.

Rivers APC Chairman, Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, said in a statement that arrangements are at advance stage to receive the defectors, who he said “have a found a home in the party of liberation.

“We are happy with their decision that Rivers State must not be allowed to play opposition politics in the incoming Federal Government of Gen Muhammadu Buhari and have fixed Friday, 10th April, 2015, to formally receive them at the APC State Secretariat at Forces Avenue, Port Harcourt.

“With this development, it would be safe to say that Rivers State PDP Leader and gubernatorial candidate, Chief Nyesom Wike, is now a commander without troops. Wike is irreversibly on his way to political oblivion and his fate shall become sealed on April 11 when he will be trounced by our governorship candidate, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, during the governorship polls,” Ikanya added.

The Rivers APC Chairman listed PDP National Vice-Chairman, Chief Uche Secondus, Ikuru; and Rivers PDP Chairman, Felix Obuah, among other fallen political heavyweights in Rivers who will join Wike into political oblivion from April 11.

“These are men who symbolise injustice and whose exaggerated sense of political importance has deceived them into promoting the candidature of a man who is unmarketable even among his kinsmen,” Ikanya said.

In Benue State where Gen. Mahammadu Buhari (retd), defeated the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, the state Governor, Gabriel Suswan, was denied an opportunity to book a seat in the Senator by the incumbent, Barnabas Gemade.

The elated APC governorship candidate in the state, Samuel Ortom, said he had so far received over 8,000 PDP supporters, notable among them are Maj. Gen. Lawrence Onoja (retd), a former governorship aspirant, Matthias Oyigeiya, and former House of Reps candidate. John Tion.

Ortom, in a telephone interview with Daily Independent, urged the PDP to expect another shocker as several other members of the state ruling party would join the APC before the April 11 polls.

Meanwhile, a former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Mike Aondoakaa (SAN), and Prof Tony Ijohor (SAN), who is Suswan’s lawyer, have resigned their membership of the PDP.

With Gemade’s victory, the APC now has two senators in the state – George Akume – while PDP has only one, David Mark.

The House of Reps now stands at six seats for APC against five for the PDP.

In Edo State, Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, formally received his closest rival in the 2012 governorship election, Major-General Charles Arhiavbere (Rtd).

Oshimhole who received Airhiavbere at a campaign rally held at Garrick Grammar School ground said “he has come to join us is in line with our tradition to try to consolidate democracy, open up the party to every genuine person who wants to join the party because politics is a game of numbers but this one is a quality number which makes it much more important for us.

“It shows that our political contestation was nothing personal which is why we have no difficulties in embracing one another and welcoming him into the APC family.

“I feel fulfilled because my mission in Edo state is to provide good governance by way of applying public funds to deliver happiness to the greatest number of our people, and to clean up the political space so that godfathers are permanently put out of business and very ordinary people with ideas can have a space to engage,” he said

Governor Oshiomhole who also received Richard Lamai and Major Gen. Shaibu to APC both from Edo North during the rally added that “the more people join us, the deeper the message that Edo electorate are the political leaders in APC.

“Richard has been a loud voice in PDP and he led a group called “PDP Reloaded” and everybody knows that he was very close to a chieftain of the PDP and he has worked there tirelessly over the years and his coming to join us is to also enrich our party’’, the further said.

While appreciating the supporters of the three former PDP leaders,  Oshiomhole enjoined them to come out en masse on Saturday, April 11 and vote for APC candidates for the Edo state House of Assembly in order to sustain development in the state.

Barely 48 hours after Airhiavbere decamped another retired general and former Provost Marshal, Brigadier Gen Idada Ikponmwen, on Tuesday, in Benin City, declared for the APC along with his supporters.

Ikponmwen, a PDP chieftain in Edo state, also called on the Edo voters not to make the mistake of voting for the PDP in the Saturday’s house of assembly elections so as to ensure that there is peace, good governance and stability in state.

According to him, “I have called you here to inform my political associates and supporters, friends at home and abroad of my present political stand in this nation. The first is to inform you that I have left PDP for APC. I am now even more than before resolved to contribute towards the promotion of good governance, peace progress and unity in the Country.”

Also on Tuesday, the Plateau Governorship candidate of Labour Party, Bagudu Hirse, directed his supporters to vote APC Governorship candidate, Simon Lalong, as the next governor of the state.

Bagudu who stormed NUJ press centre, Jos, told  news men  that  he was stepping down for Lalong in the interest of plateau state rather than any other consideration.

Bagudu who was a close ally of Governor Jang under during his first tenure, said the wind of change is blowing across the country with the victory of President-elect, Gen Buhari.

He however asked the electorate to vote candidates of Labour Party in the House of Assembly elections.

Apparently unruffled, Governor Jonah Jang, on Tuesday, said in Jos, that the APC gang up with other opposition parties in the state will fail on Saturday.

Jang, in a press statement in Jos, accused the APC in the state of deceiving the people into voting its governorship candidate that had nothing to show as a leader while he was speaker of the state House of Assembly under Senator Joshua Dariye regime.

“The APC as a party has not told Plateau people what it has in store for them; they have only struggled to whip up sentiments built on sectionalism, divisiveness  and related issues with a view to winning some sympathy,” he added.

Jang said as drowning party filled with PDP’s yesterday men whose pursuit of selfish and personal interest could not find accommodation in the PDP, it is only a matter of time before their greed will manifest.

He assured that PDP is well rooted in Plateau State and as shown in the emergence of three Senators and six House of Reps members, wondering where  the APC stronghold in Plateau State really is.

“If the APC Governorship candidate could not win his polling unit/ward for the APC presidential candidate in the last election, we are at a lost as to which areas the party is imagining to be its stronghold.”

The PDP however benefitted also from the season of defections, as it received over 20,000 members who are kinsmen of Great Ogboru, governorship candidate of the Labour Party in the state, from Ethiope East Local Government.

Their move gave a boost to the governorship ambition of the PDP’s candidate- Senator Ifeanyi Okowa.

Led by Comrade David Owhobeya, former Local Government chairmanship aspirant in the council, they promised to work for the victory of Okowa on Saturday.

The LP supporters said they were tired of primordial and ethnic politics and that the time has come to effect the needed positive change in Delta State.

Owhobeya said Okowa has the capacity to lead the people of Delta State, describing him as a detribalised Deltan and assured that Senator Okowa will not disappoint the people of Delta State.

Okowa while receiving them alongside Chief Oghomina Emmanuel, Deputy Chairman of PDP, Delta Central, said they were moved to identify with the PDP because of Senator Okowa’s brilliant track record of service and human empowerment, describing him (Okowa) as, ,”a very reliable candidate that has the interest of the people at heart.”