Real reasons for Ikuru’s defection in Rivers
THE recent defection of the Rivers State Deputy Governor, Tele Ikuru, from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) few days to last Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections, brought a lot of heat to the polity although many observers saw it as a decision taken without a genuine consciousness of political interest.
Analysts believe that one of the reasons why the development created a lot of stir in the already tensed political climate of the state was that the incident of a Deputy Governor switching political party allegiance following disagreement or personality conflict with his Governor, has not occurred in the state since 1999.
Ikuru who has been the Deputy Governor since 2007, is believed to have had cordial relationship with Governor Chibuike Amaechi but the cordiality was compromised when he could not secure either the APC governorship or the Rivers East Senatorial District ticket. Sources close to the Deputy Governor told The Guardian that though he had never been a kitchen cabinet member of the Amaechi’s political family, he had anticipated that since the APC, on the basis of equity had resolved to zone its governorship ticket to Rivers East Senatorial District, he might be considered alongside Senator Magnus Abe and Dakuku Peterside.
Prior to Peterside’s endorsement by Governor Amaechi, the Deputy Governor’s political camp had anticipated that in the event that Senator Abe was given the APC governorship ticket, he would replace him at the Senate.
The endorsement of Peterside and Abe’s subsequent bid to seek reelection into the Senate, left Ikuru with no choice than what has become a permanent feature of Nigerian politics; politicians exercising their freedom to associate with any party where their interest is best served.
Though he has been holding the position in the last eight years, Ikuru is said to be largely outside the influential circle of the PDP because he is considered a close ally of the party’s National Deputy Chairman, Uche Secondus, who nominated him as Amaechi’s running mate in 2006.
It is worthy to note that the refusal of the APC State Chairman, Davies Ikanya, to obey the directives to the Deputy Governor to reinstate the sacked unit and ward executives of the party in his Andoni Local Government Area, merely reinforced his conviction that he is an outsider in the Amaechi’s administration.
At a grand reception to receive him back to the PDP, Ikuru had alleged that he was deceived to join the APC eighteen months ago. He said he later realized that the whole essence of the defection of some politicians to the APC in 2013 was powered by an individual’s ambitious greed for political power.
Ikuru who twice referred to the PDP governorship candidate in Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, as governor of the state, explained that for the first time in eighteen month he could stand with clear conscience because he has been able to wash his hands off the APC. The Deputy Governor who was heavily guarded by security men, explained that when it was impossible for anyone to challenge Amaechi because people were afraid that he would use the instrumentality of the state to demolish their property or ground their businesses, Wike was the only one who had the courage to challenge him.
Before Ikuru’s formal declaration for the PDP, he had actually walked away from the APC about three weeks ago during a stakeholders meeting at Andoni Local Government Area that was supposed to address the discontentment caused by the purported hijack of the party structure by Ikanya who hails from the same local government with him.
Prior to the 2011 general election, sources close to the Deputy Governor disclosed to The Guardian that he was aware of the pressure on Amaechi to replace him with Mr. Tonye Cole and he is also said have been crossed when the governor failed to support Secondus’s earlier bid to become the deputy national chairman of the PDP.
Instead, the governor supported Dr. Sam-Sam Jaja. While reacting to Ikuru’s defection, Amaechi said the reasons adduced by the Deputy Governor are shocking. He said Ikuru has consistently been the one driving political activities in his Andoni and also the second in command in driving the politics and governance in the state.
On his part, Ikuru claimed that in December 2013, out of extreme loyalty to Amaechi, he joined the APC with other then disillusioned Rivers people but after carefully studying, interacting and analyzing the leadership of the party, he had come to the sad conclusion that: “the APC is a party of rebels, insurgents and anarchists, clothed in robes of pretense and deceit”, and that he has decided to wash his hands off the party.
Meanwhile Ikanya has described Ikuru’s defection as “good riddance to bad rubbish” as the Deputy Governor’s action did not come to the APC as a surprise. He explained that rather than being shocked, the APC feels relieved that Ikuru, who he described as a PDP mole in their midst all these while, has decided to leave.
He said, “Unknown to most people, Ikuru initially refused to leave PDP for APC with Governor Rotimi Amaechi in November 2013. However, after series of meetings with his uncle and political mentor, Chief Uche Secondus, the National Vice Chairman of PDP, and some other PDP bigwigs, he was prevailed upon to follow his principal into APC.
Engr Ikuru was asked to stay behind to monitor the activities of APC and most importantly to act as a mole for his uncle and plot the fall of APC in the State – a mission which he failed to accomplish because APC is not just a party in Rivers State but indeed a revolutionary movement fully embraced and jealously guarded by the people of the State.” Ikanya alleged that one of the reasons why Ikuru did not defect earlier was that he had assumed that Amaechi would be impeached by the State House of Assembly to clear the way for his assumption of office as governor.
Referring to the bloody crisis that rocked the State House of Assembly in July 2013, when five lawmakers attempted to impeach the Speaker, Otelemaba Amaechree, Ikanya insisted that if the plot had materialized, the five PDP lawmakers would have gone ahead to impeach Amaechi and subsequently declare Ikuru as the governor. According to him, “When this plot failed, Ikuru was asked to remain in the APC in the hope that the Presidency would somehow find a way to force Amaechi out of office.
As part of this plot, the Presidency contrived a crisis with regard to the appointment of a judge who was expected to facilitate the impeachment of the governor. “When this plot also failed, PDP resorted to the mobilisation of ex-militants from Bayelsa and Rivers states to protest in the State in the hope that this would result in a crisis of insecurity that could be used as an excuse to declare a state of emergency in Rivers and impose Ikuru as governor.”
The APC chairman explained further that when all these failed, Ikuru was asked to remain in the party in the hope that he might be given the gubernatorial ticket or a senatorial ticket and that: “when this also failed, his uncle, Uche Secondus, advised him to stay on but this time to destabilize the APC in his Andoni Local Government Area.” A Port Harcourt-based political analyst, Dr. Reuben Dimpka, while commenting on the issue, told The Guardian that political defection cannot be considered as an abnormality in politics, “although Rivers State has not experienced it at the current level.”
He blamed the APC for not realizing that the Deputy Governor ought to have been assuaged, considering the fact that he has the option of rejoining the PDP where his uncle is a National Deputy Chairman.
He reckoned that the APC perhaps failed to take into cognizance the fact that the ruling PDP at the centre, which has tried relentlessly to undermine the government of Rivers State, would stop at nothing to weaken APC in the State.
He said, “Though people might want to describe Ikuru as a paper weight political actor, the fact that he waited patiently till this moment, shows that he is very calculative and determined to pay the APC back in its own coin for undermining him.
“It is indeed regrettable that the APC leadership in the state, could fail to realize that politicians would not hesitate to display their self centeredness and lack of political principles at the expense of the party, if they come to the realization that their interest cannot be served within the fold.”
The governorship candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Tonye Princewill, said, ‘Ikuru merely defected to the PDP because he feels he would be more comfortable there by virtue of Secondus’s strategic position within the party.” Rivers PDP chairman, Felix Obuah, said he never anticipated that Ikuru, who he described as one of the strongest member of the APC would defect to PDP.
He claimed that over 65 per cent of the state lawmakers have indicated their willingness to rejoin the PDP, while only five commissioners in the State Executive Council have not indicated their interest to defect to the party. According to him, “The PDP would never accept governor Amaechi into its fold again if he desires to return.” There have been speculations that some commissioners and lawmakers might defect to the PDP in the build-up to the general elections but this is yet to be seen.
Unknown to most people, Ikuru initially refused to leave PDP for APC with Governor Rotimi Amaechi in November 2013. However, after series of meetings with his uncle and political mentor, Chief Uche Secondus, the National Vice Chairman of PDP, and some other PDP bigwigs, he was prevailed upon to follow his principal into APC. Engr Ikuru was asked to stay behind to monitor the activities of APC and most importantly to act as a mole for his uncle and plot the fall of APC in the State – a mission which he failed to accomplish because APC is not just a party in Rivers State but indeed a revolutionary movement fully embraced and jealously guarded by the people of the State