PDP National Assembly lawmakers in Ebonyi distance themselves from Umahi's plans to defect


MEMBERS of the Ebonyi State National Assembly Caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have distanced themselves from the recent actions of Governor Dave Umahi who recently dumped the party and defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).


Currently the chairman of the South East Governors’ Forum, Governor Umahi, 57, was first elected in 2015 on the platform of the PDP and last year, he was re-elected for a second four year term. Last week, however, he announced that he was leaving the PDP for the APC in what is seen as the beginning of a presidential bid for Aso Rock in 2023.


Although not constitutional, Nigeria's component parts have a gentleman's agreement that the presidency will rotate between the north and the south of the country. President Muhammadu Buhari's tenure will end in 2023 and being a Fulani northern Muslim, it is expected that the next president will come from southern Nigeria.


Each half of the country is made up of three geo-political zones, which in the south is made up of the southeast, south-south and southwest geo-political zones. However, since the return to democracy in 1999, the southwest has produced President Olusegun Obasanjo. while the south-south has produced President Goodluck Jonathan, so the next president should come from the southeast.


It is believed that Governor Umahi is hopeful of clinching the APC presidential ticket in 2023 and running for president as the party's candidate. However, PDP lawmakers from the state currently serving in the National Assembly have said that  the governor is on his own, pointing out that they are not party to his plans.


Former governor Senator Sam Egwu, the lawmaker representing PDP, Ebonyi North Senatorial District, said that no single lawmaker in the National Assembly will follow Governor Umahi to the PDP as they remain full-blooded and loyal PDP members. He added that PDP Senator and members of the House of Representatives considered the decision of the governor as impolitic, indecent and unwise to give ultimatums and conditionalities in a bid to secure zoning.


Senator Egwu said it was not fair for the governor to say the PDP as not fair to the southeast geo-political zone when he has benefited immensely from the party in the past. Senator Egwu read out a statement to this effect signed by other lawmakers including Senator Obinna Ogba, Senator Mike Ama Nnachi, Hon Sylvester Ogbaga, Hon Igariwey Iduma Enwo, Hon Chukwuma Nwazunku, Hon Edwin Anayo and Hon Livinus Makwe.


Their statement read, “We, the undersigned members of the Ebonyi State PDP caucus of the National Assembly, wish to address our fellow PDP members and other well-meaning Nigerians, on the defection of the governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi from the PDP to the APC. For the sake of clarity, we wish to state that not a single member of the Ebonyi State PDP caucus of the National Assembly is defecting to the APC.


"The three distinguished senators and five House of Representatives members remain proud card-carrying members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the platform under which we contested and won elections in 2019. The major reason given by Chief Umahi for defecting from the PDP to the APC is now in the public domain, which is that the PDP has not been fair to the people of the southeast on the issue of zoning the presidency and vice presidency.


“While we support that it is the turn of the southeast to fly the presidential flag of any of the major political parties come 2023, yet we consider it impolitic, indecent and unwise to give ultimatums and conditionalities in a bid to secure zoning. Indeed, if there is any Ebonyi person who should remain eternally grateful to the PDP, that individual ought to be the Governor David Umahi, a man who was appointed the Ebonyi State chairman of the PDP, made deputy governor of a PDP administration and was elected for two terms under the banner of the PDP.


"As Governor, his two younger brothers were elected to principal offices of the PDP, one (Mr Austine Umahi) as the national vice chairman (southeast) and another (Mr Maxwell Umahi) as the deputy state chairman of the PDP. As democrats, we concede Chief Umahi’s right to join any political association of his choice, however, as federal lawmakers, we are not unaware of the Supreme Court decision that candidates are products of political parties.


"What it means is that political office holders are not at liberty to migrate from one political platform to another, particularly when there is no division in their party. We wish to use this opportunity to thank the leadership of our great party, the PDP for their prompt action in dissolving the ward, local government, state and zonal structures of the party in Ebonyi State and their announcement of a state caretaker team.


"We also wish to thank teeming members and supporters in our various constituencies who have remained undaunted and committed to their membership of the PDP. We also wish to thank the Southeast Caucus and indeed the entire PDP family of the National Assembly.”