The Governor of Ebonyi state, Chief David Umahi has perfected his planned defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC).
Governor Umahi has not hidden his desire to move to the ruling party in pursuit of his presidential ambition. EPARLIAMENT had reported that the governor had concluded plans with members of the Ebonyi state House of Assembly and the Chairmen of the 13 local government areas in the state to join him in the APC move.
Part of the well orchestrated plan as reported by EPARLIAMENT included the ultimatum given to the National Executive Committee of the PDP to announce the zoning of the Presidential Ticket of the party to the Southeast as well as the retention of the party’s current National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus “in line with the party’s tradition of zoning of both the Presidential Ticket and National Chairmanship of the party in the same zone.
Defection last moves
In keeping with the “defection strategy” Governor Umahi last week finally announced to the Ebonyi state Government Executive Council of his intention to defect to the APC with a caveat that the EXCO members were free to join in the APC remain in the PDP as they may wish.
The magnanimity of the governor that the EXCO members should use their discretion earned him a standing ovation from the EXCO members who expressed their happiness over the governor’s decision.
However, a close source at the Ebonyi Government House told EPARLIAMENT that the Governor had at the meeting outlined his strategy and reason for the decision which were roundly praised by the cabinet members as a “water tight” plan based on justified grounds.
According to the Government House source, Governor Umahi had told his cabinet that his colleague governors from the Southeast were “ganging up against him,” but he expressed his determination to carry on with his plans as he strongly believed it was in the best interest of the Southeast and Igbo people at large. He told his cabinet members that he was confident that his colleague governors in the Southeast would “soon come to the realization” that he meant well.
Governor Umahi reportedly expressed his disappointment with the PDP which he said has not compensated the Southeast despite the huge sacrifice the region has made for the PDP since Nigeria returned to democracy in1999.
Meeting with Presidential Delegation /Visit to Governor Wike
The meeting between the Presidential Delegation led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari who was accompanied on the visit by all ministers from the Southeast is said to be the brain-child of Governor Umahi who had promised his cabinet members that he would ensure that President Muhammadu Buhari visited the Southeast to engage with people of the region on critical issues affecting the economy and infrastructure as well as the ongoing agitation for an Igboman/Woman to emerge the next president of Nigeria.
Similarly, the visit on Sunday November 8, 2020 to the governor of Rivers state , Nyesom Wike was also said to be part of Governor Umahi’s plan to advance the cause of Igbo people. Umahi who has always called himself a “Port Harcourt boy” knows Rivers state very well and is always at home in the oil rich state. Governor Umahi is reputed to have series of business concerns in Port Harcourt where his construction company, Brass Engineering started.
Fate of Ebonyi House of Assembly members
Despite the many negotiations between stakeholders and the leadership of the Ebonyi state House of Assembly, many seven lawmakers have refused to join the governors move to the APC.
According a source at the House of Assembly, 17 members out of the 24 members of the House have agreed and signed to join the governor’s move to the APC.
Each of the 17 members have been penciled down for a N5 million reward while those whose constituency projects were frozen in times past have been assured that all their due funds would be released for them in the Q1 of 2021.
Meanwhile, the seven recalcitrant lawmakers of the House have been accused of being aligned to a certain “Abuja Group” who according to government House sources were willing to pay the lawmakers double of what the governor was offering them in order to retain their support.
The 17 lawmakers already aligned to the governor has, however, not got their money as EPARLIAMENT learned they were waiting to know how much their colleagues in the Abuja group were going to be paid.
While meeting with the state Executive Council last week, Governor Umahi was said to have told his audience that despite his move to the APC that the PDP in the state would still be under his belt as the current State Working Committee of the party remains loyal to him.
Umahi reminded the lawmakers and other cabinet members in attendance that he was poised to control both the structures of the PDP and APC in the state.
Ebonyi Stakeholders React
The “defection blues” in the state has continued to generate interests from all corners of the state especially amongst political bigwigs who are said to be confused on how to handle the situation. Ebonyi state has remained a one-party state since 2003 as every government in power has largely controlled the political structure in the state irrespective of the persons involved.
An elder of the PDP in the State, who requested to remain anonymous, was “furious and disappointed” that the governor seemed to have forgotten so easily all the hard work by a broad spectrum of the people of the state to make him the governor in 2015.
The PDP stalwart was bitter that the governor had allegedly concluded his decampment plans before informing the leaders and elder of the party in the state. The party stalwart, however, acknowledged that the governor has the rights to determine his own political future.
He insisted that irrespective of the enormous powers of the governor, the destiny of Ebonyi is in the hands of God.
Ban on High Speed Motorcycles in Ebonyi state
The recent ban announced by governor Umahi according to a government House source was also part of the plan the governor has laid out to ensure that the state was uncomfortable for all his political foes.
It is being alleged that the ban on the specific motorcycle brand in the state was targeted at a lawmaker who has hidden his governorship ambition despite the position of governor Umahi that whoever was going to succeed him in 2023 was going to emerge “by consensus” of leaders of the state from the 13 local government areas of the state.
The Abuja based lawmaker is said to have arrived at an agreement with an Anambra state based dealer of the banned motorcycle brand for support. The agreement according to fillers led to the purchase of over 300 units of the banned mortocycle brand which the lawmaker had planned to share to his supporters during the Christmas festivities as part of his governorship campain strategies.
However, announcing the ban Ebonyi state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Uchenna Orji, said the ban was a state Executive Council decision as a measure to strengthen security of the state
“The ban on the use of high-powered motorcycles is an exco decision and it’s aimed at curtailing criminality in the state.
“Security report has it that some of the people that use high-speed motorcycles use them to hit their unsuspecting targets and zoom off. So it was banned.
“Government has also outlawed ordinary motorcycles for both commercial and private motorcyclists from operating in the state between the hours of 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.
“The action is taken to effectively protect and secure the state, our citizens and their property.
“Our dear Gov. Dave Umahi is irrevocably committed to the protection of the lives and property of everybody living in the state,” the commissioner concluded.
As things stand now in Ebonyi state, Governor Umahi is holding everyone spellbound as his actions automatically determines the political currents in the state.
As at the time of filing the report the no date has been fixed for the decision, but government House sources indicate that the defection will be concluded in a matter of weeks as the governor was following through with all his plans.