2023: PDP, APC battle for the soul of Ebonyi

Since the country returned to civilian rule on May, 29,1999, Ebonyi state has remained under the rule of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) until the incumbent governor, David Umahi, defected from the PDP to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2020.

The state created on the 1st day of October,1996 by the late Sani Abacha, has been ruled by three democratically elected governors.

They include; Dr. Sam Ominyi Egwu, from 1999-2007 (Ebonyi North senatorial zone), Chief Martin Nwancho Elechi from 2007-2015 (Ebonyi Central zone) and Engr. David Nweze Umahi, from 2015 till now .

As the 2023 general election approaches, the Ebonyi State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), have begun strategic moves on how to put their houses in order, ahead of coming elections at all levels.

The recent defection of Governor David Umahi from the PDP to APC has kicked up the dust across the 13 Local Government Areas of the state.

After the governor’s exit, the two leading political parties have continued to trade accusations and counter accusations at each other. With Umahi’s revalidation of his membership of the APC he promised to secure over one million members from the state.

Umahi boasted this during the occasion held at his home town in Umunaga Uburu, Ohaozara Local Government Area of the state that the South-East zone had identified with the APC.

The governor who reiterated that it was good for the zone to be demanding for additional registration materials, maintaining that it signified total acceptance of the party.

“This shows that south easterners have moved to the next level and we thank President Muhammadu Buhari for providing the opportunity of digital registration,” he said adding that Ebonyi people have identified with the APC because of the president’s numerous infrastructural support to the state.

According to him, the president recently released N6 billion for Ebonyi to produce limestone granules to support its fertilizer plant.

“He also approved N400 million for us to empirically evaluate the salt deposits in the state. This would enable us produce hypo-chloride solutions for the entire water treatment plants in Nigeria and also table salts for commercial uses,” he said.

Umahi said that he would continue forgiving those who attacked him on the social media and urged the APC state caretaker committee members not to attack them.

“I would, however, keep punishing them with monumental projects as no level of attack would distract me. I also appeal to those who peddle fake social media videos of a particular tribe being ejected from Ebonyi, to stop and consider the plight of Igbo in other parts of the country,” he said.

Chief Chima Onyekwere, Chairman of the APC Registration and Re-validation committee for Ebonyi state, commended the governor for projecting the APC cause among South Easterners.

“Ebonyi is presently reaping the dividends of identifying with the federal government and I am optimistic that other South East states would follow.

“The APC remains the most viable platform for the Igbos to be integrated nationally and we are happy with the enthusiasm shown by the people to register with the party,” he said.

Chief Austin Umahi, former National Vice Chairman of the PDP South East zone who also registered with the APC, said that he was happy to take the ‘right step’.

Umahi, who is the governor’s younger brother, said that he would introduce the winning mechanism which secured victory for the PDP to his new party APC

In a bid to reposition the party for further elections, the APC claimed that over 5,000 loyalists of the former Senate president, Anyim Pius Anyim have left PDP and joined the APC in Ishiagu,his home town.

The jubilant defectors according to sources, made their position known during an APC Okue Ward mega rally held at Aguena Primary School, Ishiagu, Ivo Local Government Area of the state.

The rally hosted by the APC leader in the area, Chief James Aroh Nweke, witnessed unprecedented crowd from the ward and was graced by notable personalities and members of the party in the area, among whom were Hon. Onyebuchi Ogbadu, Executive Chairman, Ivo Local Government, Engr Ogbonnia Obasi Abara, Commissioner for works and Transport, Mr. Donatus Umeh, Coordinator Echiele DC, and Mr Uchechukwu Emmanuel Afudike, Coordinator Ivo DC.

Others were, Mr David Ajah, President General (ICDU), Hon. Celestine Eze, Hon. Ejiofor Ndukwe, Mr. Anayo Okoronkwo, Mr. John Okorie, Mr. Ekeh Augustine, among other personalities.

In his welcome address, the Coordinator, Echiele Development Centre, Mr Donatus Umeh, commended the party faithful, supporters and leaders for their swift response to the call, even at the shortest notice, stressing that the people of Okue Ward are happy with the Governor because of what he has done for the ward.

On his part, his Ivo Development Centre counterpart, Mr Uchechukwu Afudike, affirmed that with what has happened in the Ward at the shortest notice, there is no more PDP in the ward.

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In her speech, Mrs Augustina Nwajah, the Vice Chairman of Ivo Local Government Area, thanked the good people of Okue Ward for coming out en -mass to show solidarity to the most performing Governor in Nigeria.

Also in his speech, Mr. Augustine Ekeh stated that Okue Ward is extremely grateful to the Governor for the infrastructural gestures he has done for Okue people and as a leader of one of the most viable economic cum social venture in the area, PDP is dead forever.

He enumerated the projects of the Governor in the area, calling on the opposition to stop deceiving the unsuspecting members of the public who they are unwilling to better their lots.

“I dare the opposition especially, Anyim Pius Anyim, to show us any single project he attracted to the council area except crisis; we have maintained our peace for long but this time around we are battle ready to all contenders”, he stated.

Expressing his happiness, the council Chairman, Hon. Onyebuchi Ogbadu, reeled the projects of David Umahi ranging from Okue/Nzerem road, Ivo Okue bridge, street light, Ivo water project, Etani bridge, Widows Empowerment, Youth Empowerment, Appointment of two powerful Commissioners from the Council Area, Numerous SAs, STAs and TAs; among other projects.

Insisting that these and many more informed his cogent stand towards banning the opposition from all forms of gathering in the area.

Following the defection of the former State Chairman, Onyekachi Nwebonyi , the state chapter of the party held its first meeting in the state.

The meeting held at Salt Lake Hotels in Abakaliki, witnessed the presence of former Senate President, Senator Pius Anyim, Senator Sam Egwu representing ( Ebonyi North senatorial zone), Senator Obinna Ogba representing ( Ebonyi Central senatorial zone)and Senator Amah Nnachi representing (Ebonyi South senatorial zone).

Others at the meeting include; member representing (Abakaliki/Izzi federal constituency), Hon.Sylvester Ogbaga, Hon.Chukwuma Nwanzuku, representing (Ebonyi/Ohaukwu federal constituency), Hon. Anayo Nwonu representing (Ezzza North/ lshielu federal constituency), Hon. Livinus Makwe, representing (Ivo, Ohaozara and Onicha federal constituency)and Idu Igariwey representing ( Afikpo south/ Afikpo North federal constituency)

According to PDP, the resignation and defection of Onyekachi Nwebonyi to APC would bring to an end all the machinations which had hitherto created problems to their party and its teeming members in Ebonyi State.

Addressing the party, the South-East Vice Chairman of the PDP,. Chief Ali Odefa, maintained that the party remains focus and that it does not belong to the noisemakers party.

According to him, the era of “l will crush you, I will grind has gone.

“ We are reaching out to people and the result is what we all saw that happened in Aba, Abia State. Politics is not by shouting. We are not noisemakers, we are focused”.

In an interview, Caretaker Chairman of PDP in the State, Elder Fred Udeogu, urged Governor David Umahi to have a rethink on the violence that he has unleashed on the state since his defection.

He, however, described the spate of politically motivated killings across the state as condemnable.

This was as the PDP alleged that it was ready to eschew negative tendencies that almost ruined it before the defection of Umahi to the All Progressives Congress, adding that, the governor’s sudden departure remained insignificant.

Udeogu, in a telephone chat, stressed that most of the APC’s achievements were not visible, but merely announced in the state-owned radio and television stations.

He said, “We are not disturbed or distracted by the governor’s defection to the APC. It has not removed anything from our party. He went to the APC and many of our members are still with us in the PDP.

“We heard they are doing registration. We can tell them that we knew what they did. What they merely did was to hijack the PDP membership register and copied names of PDP members into their own register. But of course, that does not make us sleepless, because we will sweep the entire state during the elections, come 2023.”

But the All Progressives Congress in the state said the PDP was day dreaming.The Caretaker Committee Chairman of the party in the state, Chief Stanley Okoro-Emegha, in a chat, said that the inconsistent character of the PDP National Vice Chairman (South-East zone), Ali Odefa, already signalled the party’s failure ahead of 2023 in the zone.

Okoro-Emegha, who doubles as the Commissioner for Internal Security and Border Peace, said, “The PDP lacks the personalities and goodwill to make this boast a reality in Ebonyi State.They can’t try it and they know it’s very impossible.”

Ebonyi State Commissioner for Information and State orientation, Barr. Uchenna Orji, has warned the Peoples PDP Ebonyi State, against linking Ebonyi State Governor, Engr. David Umahi, to the recent political woes of the party in the state, noting that the Governor is preoccupied in his development agenda of the state.

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Orji, in a response to the press statement issued by PDP on Monday, after their meeting held at Salt Lake Hotel, Abakaliki, noted that the mass movement of Ebonyi people to the All Progressives Congress, APC, has caused a colossal collapse of the PDP from its very fabrics.

He urged them to be brave enough to face the bitter reality of the fragile condition of the party in the state, rather than resort to unwarranted name calling.

“The attention of the Ministry of Information and State Orientation has been drawn to a text of a press conference credited to one Chief Fred Udeogu who purports to be the State Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party and the allegations contained therein.

“While we are not surprised at the visionlessness and emptiness of the meeting of a party that was

discourtesiously held at a drinking place, we are surprised that the maker of the press extract could have the effrontery to connect the performing Governor of Ebonyi State, His Excellency, Engr. David Umahi (Akubaraoha) to the unending woes of PDP in Ebonyi State, when our dear Governor, the government and people of Ebonyi State have gloriously moved to a progressive party of national spread, the All Progressives Congress (APC).

“It is understandable that the mass movement of Ebonyi people to APC has caused a colossal collapse of the PDP from its very fabric, but the remnants of that party should be brave enough to face the bitter reality of the fragile condition of PDP in the state.

“We are therefore surprised that the first meeting of PDP in the state, after the state’s defection to All Progressives Congress, which should have been agenda setting after being irreparably flattened by the mass exodus of the good people of Ebonyi state, was only held to play a blame game against the APC government of the state in which issues raised thereof are impotently, baseless, and objectively diversionary.

“We want to use this medium to again admonish the PDP in Ebonyi State to leave the government and good people of Ebonyi State out of the party’s woes, including leadership tussle as we have no business with a troubled party.

“The plea that the Governor should facilitate the take over of Africa’s biggest Party Secretariat by the State Chapter of PDP and the allegation that the Governor unleashed violence and politically motivated killings in the state after our massive defection to APC can best be described as the most unintelligent shenanigans of the most frustrated opposition party in the history of the state.

“If the present crop of leaders of PDP in the state had accused Ebonyi State government of punishing them with unprecedented transformational projects or exposing their inefficiency and failure to attract development to Ebonyi State which they did at the pleasure of their personal aggrandizement, it would have been understandable.

“The good people of Ebonyi State cannot be deceived because we have the history and record of the involvement of each of the present leaders of PDP in the monumental violence, politically motivated killings and communal clashes that engulfed Ebonyi State like a holocaust between 2001 and 2003 for which their leaders were the protagonists, as we have the details including video clips of how they carried each other’s mock coffin as a smoke screen to hide their atrocities.

“We are aware of the various but halted plots of the PDP to import weaponry and machinery to unleash terror on parts of the state for the ill-motives of Mr. Fred Udeogu and his group of PDP members.

“We are not unaware that this new marriage of the formerly estranged political titans is not without violent motives, but they should be assured that our security surveillance has been networked in every part of the state to dismantle such orchestrations and forestall a re-occurrence of a show down of angry Abuja group in the State.

“We therefore call on our dear Ebonyians to disregard and discountenance the press release of the Udeogu group of PDP, held on 29th March, 2021 as an idle and directionless cover up lamentation to curry the sympathy of the gullible and attract the attention of our focused Divine Mandate Administration to their self inflicted woes.

“Ebonyi state is safer, stronger, better and happier in the hands of a performer per excellence, His Excellency, Engr. Chief David Nweze Umahi FNSE, FNATE even as we move into the Next Level of development under the All Progressives Congress (APC)”.

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