Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has faulted the reason given by his Ebonyi counterpart, David Umahi, for dumping the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He said the movement was because of Mr Umahi’s ambition to be the APC’s presidential candidate in 2023.
Mr Umahi had said he defected from the PDP because of the party’s injustice against his South-east zone. But Mr Wike said the claim is not true.
Mr Wike’s stance was contained in a statement by Kelvin Ebiri, his Special Assistant (Media), on Tuesday. He accused Mr Umahi of being unfair to the PDP, which gave him the governorship ticket in 2015 and again in 2019.
According to Mr Wike, “committed members of PDP were not surprised that Governor Umahi on Tuesday formally defected to the APC, which he has for a while been fraternising with.
“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 that because you want to 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.”
Mr Wike further demanded that Mr Umahi should retract the statement that the PDP has not been fair to the South-east.
He argued that under the PDP, the South-east has produced Senate Presidents; National Vice Chairman of the PDP and Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
He said Mr Umahi was wrong to accuse the PDP of injustice when he had imposed his younger brother as the South-east zonal vice chairman of the PDP.
The Rivers governor said because the APC has not yet told Nigerians where it would zone its presidential ticket for 2023, Mr Umahi’s move may be too hasty and may ruin him politically.
According to him, even if the APC decides to zone its presidential ticket to the South-east, where he said the party has no formidable base, the is no guarantee that Mr Umahi would get the ticket?.
Mr Wike said he would not have been perturbed by Mr Umahi’s defection, but he felt offended by his attempt to justify it with alleged injustice meted to the South-east by the PDP.
Mr Umahi had on Tuesday accused the PDP of having no plan to allow the South-east take its presidential ticket despite the zone’s loyalty to the party over the years.
However, while APC welcomed Mr Umahi “home”, the Ebonyi governor said the APC did not promise him any position before his defection.
He said his movement was a protest against the injustice being done to the South-east by the PDP.
Meanwhile, the South-east caucus of the APC has said more governors from the South-east would soon join the party.
The Minister for Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Ọnụ, stated this in Abuja at the South-east caucus meeting of the party.
”We have one governor now and we are working so that by 2023, we will have five governors. We are very optimistic. We have the people and whatever problem we have, we will resolve them,” Mr Onu said.
The minister said the APC should also work hard to win the senatorial by-election in Imo North zone to be held in December.
Also commenting, a former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, said the defection of more governors to the APC is a work in progress.
“Our party is a moving train. We are ready to pick anybody that wants to join us. We are expecting not only governors but everybody.
“Our gate is wide open for any person who loves to move in. We are expecting more people. There are many large rooms in our party. For those who are ready to join, the train of APC is already moving,” he said.
With the movement of Mr Umahi to the APC, the party now has two governors in the region.
Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinma, who was contriversially declared governor by the Supreme Court, is the second APC governor in the South-east.
The PDP also now has two governors – Okezie Ikpeazụ (Abịa) and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) – while the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) has Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano.