- Accuses APC of devious tactics
BY UBON EKANEM, CALABAR – Less than a week after the Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Governors of Benue, Kwara and Sokoto States defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the All Progressives Congress (APC), there are strong indications that the opposition party has cut short its merrymaking to re-strategize on the way forward.
With heightening speculations of internal turbulence in the PDP South-South caucus over Senator Godswill Akpabio’s imminent defection to ruling APC, the nation’s political space is awash with social media activists celebrating the so-called ‘Confirm breaking News’ that quotes Presidential Liaison to the National Assembly – Senate, Senator (Dr) Ita Enang as saying; “I am confirming that the APC family in Nigeria led as earlier indicated will formally receive His Excellency, Senator (Dr) Godswill Akpabio, CON on Wednesday, August 8, 2018 at an elaborate ceremony in Akwa-Ibom State.”
Available information on this ‘Breaking news’ further indicates that Acting President, Professor Yemi Osibanjo, is scheduled to lead the APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Senator Ita Enang, Obong Nsima Ekere, and all APC Governors among other leaders to formally receive Senator Akpabio into the ruling party’s family at a ceremony that will hold at the Ikot Ekpene Township Stadium.
Our usual reliable sources confirmed that this ‘disturbing development’ in the geo-political zone, hitherto considered the PDP’s fortress in political circles, has made party chieftains to urgently refrain from basking in the euphoria of their huge political mileage gained through the entry of APC deserters.
The sources said the developing relationship between the ruling party and the Senate Minority Leader had kept tongues wagging with many PDP supporters feeling quite uncomfortable. Though public denials kept coming in torrents, insiders said signs that all was not well within the previously ‘one-house’ were apparent as some PDP’s egg heads became hard-pressed re-strategizing on ways to check the looming turmoil of some frontline members deserting the opposition party in the Niger Delta.
According to information gathered by Forefront, though in hush-hush tones, the APC remained unperturbed and in celebration mood, as it seriously prepared grounds to receive the South-South political bigwigs led by the man known with the popular trademark of ‘Uncommon Transformation’
His conspicuous absence at the much-publicized PDP’s 81st National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Abuja and highly-advertised visit to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at Aso Rock Presidential Villa on the same day further fueled speculations of his defection.
An insider, who described Akpabio’s meeting with Prof Osinbajo as a political masterstroke, said the allure of having the former Akwa Ibom governor in APC’s fold was so tempting that the Presidency did not take chances with its officials paying attention to all details captured in the very juicy ‘pact’ and incentives for the South-South zone.
But suggesting why Akpabio found it expedient to quit the PDP, Forefront gathered that it might not be unconnected with claims that some damaging documents are flying around on alleged underhanded deals during his eight years tenure as governor between 2007 and 2015.
“I can conveniently tell you that all is not well with the PDP chapter in Akpabio’s home state of Akwa Ibom. So, palpable fear of being haunted by the anti-graft agencies, especially the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), may have altered the political calculations that now see him agreeing to work and deliver the State to President Buhari and APC come 2019”, our source said.
Other trusted sources hinted that the Senate Minority Leader is angry with the umbrella party. It was learnt that the anger stems from the conviction that his current travails are engineered from within the Akwa Ibom State government circles and some of his ardent supporters are not shying away from accusing Governor Emmanuel Udom pointedly as the mastermind.
One keen follower of the unfolding drama, who refused to confirm conjectures around Akpabio being a target of EFCC’s moves to rein in some high-profile political actors ahead of 2019 polls, however acknowledged the former governor feels betrayed. According to him, “The Senate Minority Leader is certainly an unhappy man going by current events within his political family back home.
“There are some exposé that have caught him and his ardent admirers unawares. These are things that can only be traced to government insiders. Therefore, for anyone to now openly parade them against Akpabio smacks of saboteurs within the system.”
It was reliably gathered that though their public outings are still coated with jocularity and niceties, there has been no love lost between Senator Akpabio and his protégé, Governor Udom in recent times. “Obviously, the bond between the two when Akpabio almost singlehandedly made Udom the governor in 2015 no longer exist. So, it might just come down to all gladiators being left alone to fight their battles during next year’s general elections”, another insider said.
While PDP sources confirmed real fears in the party that the inauspicious could happen soon with Akpabio’s defection, Forefront gathered pressure is mounting on all fronts to ensure the moves by Senator Akpabio, aptly deemed as a strong South-South voice and the godfather of Akwa Ibom politics, do not upset the applecart.
An APC chieftain in Akwa Ibom State, who did not want his name in print for obvious reasons, told Forefront that the cheering news of Senator Akpabio defection only goes to confirm that the serious overtures made to him yielded positive results in the long run. He expressed confidence that the former Governor’s political machinery is formidable enough to generally improve and turn around the fortunes of APC in the South-South zone.
Despite the social media message attributed to Senator Ita Enang, hope is still alive within the PDP as a competent source at its National headquarters in Abuja dismissed the growing speculations of defection as a ‘figment of APC propagandists’ fertile imagination’ occasioned by the huge losses recently suffered by the ruling party.
But a PDP woman leader in Akwa Ibom State, who preferred anonymity, told Forefront that “If the touted defection eventually takes place, it will be difficult for anyone to really blame our leader. So many things have happened that seem to rubbish all the hard-work by the former governor that brought and kept the PDP where it is today in Akwa Ibom.
“I dare say that such moves would take its toll on the party not only in our State, but generally in the zone as many of his admirers and die-hard supporters would not spare any thoughts joining him in the new destination and you can imagine how interesting the 2019 political calculations would become,” she volunteered.
Though the camp of Senator Akpabio is yet to issue any statement on the raging speculations about his next political moves, the PDP has descended on the ruling APC, accusing it of wooing its members through devious tactics.
A statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, described unfolding event as “a failed antic of an apprehended and deflated felon, who, in his immoral proclivity, attempts futilely to pull off one last survival stunt before facing the gallows, or more so, a mortally wounded snake furtively seeking for one last bite before its inevitable painful death.”
According to the Ologbondiyan, “The PDP has nothing but pity for the APC, who, in its blind desperation, cannot see that the train has since left the station and that nobody, no matter the lure, abandons a cruising liner, which the PDP now represents, to jump into a sinking ship with a disoriented captain which the APC has become.”
“The eclipsing APC must know that Nigerians have had enough of its lies, deception, propaganda, contrivances, beguilements and are now resolute in their iron-cast determination to rally on the platform of the repositioned PDP to rescue our nation from the curse which the APC has come to represent in the last three years”, the statement added
Conversely, if the move by Akpabio ultimately comes through, he will become the second Senator from Akwa Ibom to join the ruling party after Nelson Effiong, representing Akwa Ibom South Senatorial district crossed over to APC in 2017.