Top leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Enugu State yesterday defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The defectors include Senator Jim Nwobodo, who was the first executive Governor of old Anambra State, and Senator Fidelis Okoro, who was a senator between 1999 and 2007. They declared for APC at a State APC stakeholders meeting convened by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Jeffrey Onyeama, on Thursday.
Sen. Uche Ekwunife, the erstwhile senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial District, also announced yesterday that she had defected to the APC.
Inaugurated as a senator in June, 2015, Ekwunife had her election nullified by Appeal Court in Enugu on December 6, 2015, on grounds of irregularities. The court ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a fresh election in the zone within 90 days.
Ekwunife, who has begun preparation for the repeat poll, confirmed her defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to newsmen in Awka. “ It’s better now for me to join the APC,” she said.
“Let the heat be there; I am already on campaigns for my return to the senate, to complete my contract with the people of Anambra Central District.”
She said that her goodies for her people under the APC would soon be made public.
Nwobodo was recently named by embattled former National Security Adviser (NSA) Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) among those who benefited from the multi-billion-naira arms fraud currently being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The former governor denied any wrongdoing, saying that the N500 million released to him by the NSA was meant for PDP leaders in the Southeast to mobilise support for the re-election of Goodluck Jonathan as President in the 2015 election.
Members and stakeholders of APC at the meeting were shocked when Chief Jim Nwobodo and Senator Fidelis Okolo stormed the meeting. The minister who apparently attended the meeting for the first time could not hide his surprise at the turn of events as depicted in his speech.
The entrance of Nwobodo and Senator Okoro apparently surprised some APC stakeholders at the meeting. The visibly angry stakeholders said: “These are ‘Dasukigate fugitives’ and ‘food is ready politicians’. Are they not those who collected money from Dasuki and allocated 14,175 votes to Buhari as against over 500,000 votes they allocated to former president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan?
“Is there no shame in the country again? They are shameless and the unfortunate thing is that they cannot win their wards. They will infect and contaminate the APC.”
All efforts made by Dr Ben Nwoye, the state chairman of APC, who appeared to be the only one aware of their entry, to calm frayed nerves failed.
In his declaration speech, Nwobodo urged members of the APC in Enugu State not to be deterred by the electoral losses they suffered in the state in the past.
“You must always lose. What matters is the ability to rise again. I must condemn our former party, PDP. I know we had problems. I told our former chairman: ‘how come did we allow five governors to leave the party’?
“I am not looking for a job. I am talking because I want peace. I want our people to be part of the Federal Government at the centre. I had a problem being an opposition governor. I am not coming into APC because I want anything. I want our people to reintegrate and have our own share of the Federal Government resources,” Nwobodo said.
Nwobodo recalled that while he was in PDP, his wife had always been an active member of the APC, just as he pointed out that the slogan “change” did not start now, but started in 1983 when he was an opposition governor.
Earlier, a founding member of APC in Enugu State and former Secretary to the State Government, Onyemuche Nnamani, reminded the party of the need to keep tab on its members, stressing that those who worked for the party’s success must be recognised.
“We recognise our old members and open door for new ones. Peace, essentially, is guarded by justice. Without justice, we have peace of the graveyard. Those who don’t cherish peace are those who have not tasted the other side. Please, let us do justice. Let us carry everybody along,” Nnamani said.