I’ve no regret defecting to APC –Umahi
Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri and Chijioke Agwu, Abakaliki, Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
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The Chairman of the South East Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi, yesterday, confirmed his defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), saying he had no regret taking the decision.
Umahi who confirmed his defection to journalists at a press briefing in Abakaliki, however, denied reports that he left the PDP because he was denied presidential ticket.
In the aftermath of the defection, PDP has dissolved its zonal caretaker committee in the South East as well as the wards, local governments and state executive committees of the opposition party in Ebonyi.
The PDP, in a statement, by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the deciding was taken at a crucial meeting of the opposition party’s National Working Committee (NWC) in line with powers conferred on it by its constitution.
Until the dissolution, Umahi’s younger brother, Austin, was the PDP national vice chairman in charge of South East.
But Umahi has debunked insinuations he left PDP to pick APC presidential ticket, stressing that APC has not zoned its 2023 presidential ticket to the South East.
He said he moved to APC to protest the injustice and marginalisation of the South East zone by the People’s Democratic Party for over two decades after the formation of the party.
Umahi said he had no plan to contest any elective position in 2023, stressing that he may quit politics at the expiration of his tenure as governor.
He emphasised that his interest was only to ensure that the zone was properly recognized and reinterated into the mainstream of the nation’s politics.
The governor further accused PDP leaders of treating him with so much distrust and suspicion because he refused to insult and attack president Muhammadu Buhari.
“I didn’t leave PDP because they refused to give me the party’s presidential ticket. I never sought for the party’s ticket, and anybody who is saying that is only being mischievous.
“Even if anybody promises you a presidential ticket, how does it work when over 800,000 delegates will be electing the person? Such promise cannot happen within 10 or 20 people. So, people are just being mischievous about it. The state House of Assembly in their letter to PDP listed more qualified people in PDP than myself from the South East.”
Reacting, Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, insisted that Governor Umahi’s quest to be APC presidential candidate and not alleged injustice meted on the South East actuated his defection.
He said ordinarily, he would not have been perturbed by Umahi’s decision to defect to APC, but felt offended by his attempt to justify his decision on the purported injustice meted on the South East by the PDP.
The Rivers State governor accused Umahi of being unfair to the PDP which gave him governorship ticket in 2015 against all odds, and repeated same feat in 2019.
He noted that while Umahi had the right to move to the APC, but for him to attempt to blackmail the PDP and paint it in a bad light was mischievous and unacceptable.
“My friend, Umahi wants to be president. There is no problem about that. You have a right to be president. Nobody can stop you. You are educated. You have been a governor for two terms, so you are qualified to say I want to be president of Nigeria. But, that does not mean you blackmail your party, and tell lies to the people you are leaving the party because of the injustice meted against the South-East, that is not correct.”
He said it was erroneous for Umahi to accuse PDP of injustice, when he had unilaterally imposed his younger brother as South-East zonal Vice Chairman of PDP.
“In life , power is sweet, but conscience is important. It is most offensive and insulting for a man to lie against his party because of power.”
The governor said though APC has not yet told Nigerians where it will zone its presidential ticket, Umahi presumptuous move might be too hasty and will ruin him politically.
According to him, assuming the APC decides to zone its presidential ticket to the South East where the party has no formidable base, what is the guarantee that Umahi would secure the ticket.
“My reaction to Governor Umahi’s defection is not that he has no right to defect, but to say he is defecting because of injustice meted to the South East that is insulting to the South East.”
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