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There was a surge of excitement yesterday across the states whose governors defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Supporters of the governors in Rivers, Kwara and Adamawa hailed the decision.
Governors Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers) and his Adamawa State counterpart Murtala Nyako also spoke on why they took the decision.
Amaechi said his state had suffered neglect under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. He said he decided to join the All Progressives Congress (APC) to protect Rivers’ interests.
Nyako hinged his decision on the “injustice” suffered by the PDP in the state under the party’s National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur. He said all efforts to reverse the injustice failed.
Apart from Amaechi and Nyako, Sokoto State Governor Aliyu Wamakko, Kano State Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso and Kwara State Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed also joined the APC in what has been described as the biggest political cross movement since 1999.
Other leaders of the New PDP, led by Alhaji Kawu Baraje including former Kwara State Governor Dr. Bukola Saraki also signed up.
Amaechi, who is also the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), noted that the issues he and the other aggrieved members of the G-7 raised were not resolved by President Jonathan and the PDP.
Amaechi, who spoke with reporters on Tuesday at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, shortly on arrival from Abuja, said: “Yes; we have joined the APC, after the meeting we had with (Gen) Muhammadu Buhari, (Asiwaju Bola) Tinubu and the interim Chairman of the APC (Chief Bisi Akande).
“The governors met on Monday and decided that we must meet with the APC leadership and when we met with the APC leadership, it was important we took a position and the position we took is for the good of our democracy and to ensure that Nigeria moves forward.
“We cannot continue the way we are, where we are. The picture painted by the PDP was as if we were begging to come back to the PDP and issues were not being looked into; issues were not being resolved and it is important that we resolve it one way or the other.”
Giving an insight into the development, the NGF chairman said the new PDP decided that it was important that the members move into the APC and position themselves for the next elections.
His words: “Rivers State must know that for me to have taken that decision, I had looked at the general interests of Rivers people. I was not elected to lead Nigeria; I was elected to lead Rivers State and I had looked at the interests of Rivers people and have seen that these interests were not protected in PDP.
“I have seen the fact that we are losing our oil wells in Etche, in the Kalabari areas and that the more they continue to pilfer these oil wells, the more we will continue to lose our wealth.”
In spite of quitting the ruling PDP, the NGF chairman maintained that he still held President Jonathan in high esteem and had no personal quarrel with him.
Amaechi said: “The President (Jonathan) and I have no personal quarrel. It is important we put that in perspective. All the issues were issues that affect Rivers people, were issues that affect Nigerians and I am a Nigerian. I have to address those issues.
“He is my President and I respect him. I respect his office, respect him as a person, respect the fact that he is older, but then as elected governor of Rivers State, I have the responsibility to lead Rivers State.
“If you look at what is going on, the Federal Government is not able to fund the states anymore. They say oil theft, but oil theft is not enough reason for which we cannot fund ourselves.”
On the state’s development, the NGF chairman said his administration was about to inaugurate about 300 primary schools, another 70 health centres to add to the 60 earlier inaugurated.
He noted that his administration was about inaugurating the Kelsey Harrison Hospital, Emenike Street, Port Harcourt. Besides, there is a new hospital inside the Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST) in the state capital.
The new hospital is a partnership between the Rivers government and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Amaechi mentioned also the Mother and Child Hospital at the old site of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) in the old Port Harcourt Township, popularly called Town, for which his administration had paid the NDDC about N960 million.
The governor pointed out that for the mother and child hospital, the NDDC was expected to contribute about N900 million – to make it N1.8 billion.
The NGF chairman said: “The new stadium (on Port Harcourt-Owerri Expressway, near the Port Harcourt International Airport) is about to be completed. So, development is actually going on. We are working.”
It was jubilation galore yesterday in Ilorin. Former – PDP members, loyalists, supporters and sympathisers across the 16 local government areas thronged the GRA secretariat of the former PDP.
It was all drumming, dancing and shouting as the people came to solidarise with their leaders for joining the APC. The atmosphere was hilarious as they continually chanted APC.
The chairman of the former New PDP, Alhaji Ishola Balogun-Fulani, told reporters that the merger spelt the death knell of PDP in the state.
Said he: “Our leaders have spoken the mind of everybody in Kwara State, especially those of us in PDP. That is the end of PDP in Kwara state. We believe in what our leaders have done and we are now bona fide members of the APC. The PDP is dead in Kwara State.
“We are going to carry everybody with the people we met on ground in the new APC in the state. What we know is that putting up the APC structure, there must be convention or congress. All that will be done and everybody will be carried along.
“We in Kwara State have leaders and they are Senator Bukola Saraki and Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed. According to tradition, we don’t have any particular party in Kwara State as a must. It is where our leaders pitch tent with that we go. We are Sarakites and we have our structure; anywhere we move to we do that en masse. All the executives of the wards, local councils and of the state will move en masse to the party our leaders said they have merged with.
To a chieftain of the APC in the state, Alhaji Bashir O. Bolarinwa, merger “is a welcome development.”
Nyako said with the high level of impunity under the Tukur leadership no decent man could remain with the PDP.
The governor spoke at the Yola International Airport on arrival from Abuja. He warned that unless Nigerians rose to checkmate the excesses of the PDP leadership, which in his view had become more hardened than the worst military despotism, the country may be plunged into ethnic and religious war.
“The current PDP leaders have hijacked the party and they seem to have no clue about what it is supposed to be doing at all. It has reduced politics to personal quarrels, blackmail and cheating and no decent man can remain in the party as its antics may lead the country to civil war,” he said.
Nyako said the crises in the state chapter of PDP was a fallout of the unjust dissolution of the state executive by Tukur for selfish reasons, adding that all efforts to get the issue regularised proved abortive as the national chairman refused to heed the clarion call of well-meaning Nigerians to rescind his decision. Tukur hails from the state.
Said the governor: “Many well meaning individuals have called on the national chairman to rescind his action and reinstate the state exco, but he vehemently refused to do so, and the President did not see anything wrong with that, despite the recommendation of many committees set up by the party that the exco be reinstated. We have written letters and articles to get the injustice redressed to no avail as the national chairman was hell-bent on achieving his odious aim.”
He added that the country is in turmoil as a result of the failure of the leadership to uphold equity and fairness which, to him, has affected development.
When he was asked whether they felt betrayed by the actions of the governors of Jigawa and Niger states who backed out from the defection to the APC, Nyako said the two governors said they were not yet ready to join the merger, “one of them said by the grace of God I shall join you in January.”
Nyako will brief his supporters tomorrow on his discussion with the APC leadership.
“I will convene a meeting with my supporters and inform them about our pact with the APC and the agreement reached,” he said
According to the governor, part of the agreement reached with the APC leadership is that it is the governors that will oversee the affairs of the party in their states.
The expected political activities and fanfare that should have characterised the defection of the Kano State Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso from the New PDP to the APC appeared lukewarm yesterday.
At the Government House, nothing had really changed as the PDP flag is still hoisted.
On arrival in Kano yesterday, the governor settled for the day’s business by proceeding to the weekly council meeting.
His supporters were seen at the Government House discussing the political development in hushed tones.
The Director of Press to the Governor Mallam Halilu Baba Dantiye simply said: ‘’When things are clearer, everything will start kicking off.