Rivers PDP, APC still at daggers drawn
Parties tango over claim and counter-claims of defection
Rivers State has remained a battleground between the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the rival All Progressives Congress (APC) after the 2015 governorship elections, which was won by Governor Nyesom Wike of the PDP.
Wike had emerged winner of the state governorship election despite the perceived federal might and influence of his immediate predecessor in office and the incumbent minister of transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi.
The various rerun elections that were also conducted in the state after the governorship polls have neither made the political atmosphere friendly nor peaceful among the faithful of the two parties.
Recently, both parties engaged in a war of words over claims that some members of the APC defected to the ruling party. While the PDP insisted that it had received some sizeable number of members of the APC in its fold, the rival party dismissed the assertion as false and completely outrageous.
Former Chief of Staff, Chief Glory Emeh Glory, who recently returned to the PDP, declared that many APC members decamped to the ruling party. According to him, “Thousands of members of the opposition party ditched their party in solidarity with me for the PDP. This was so because the APC party lacks direction and no discerning leadership.”
While addressing the crowd that came to receive him on his return to the PDP, Glory averred APC is finished as a party in Rivers. But in a reaction, the APC publicity secretary, Chris Finebone refuted Glory’s claims, saying that Glory’s assertions were a caustic accusation.
According to him, “The former chief of staff is being economical with the truth. His assertions are all a bid for pecuniary interests. In a statement titled: ‘Fake defections: Let Glory Emeh keep fooling Governor Wike’, APC accused the former commissioner of presenting faceless, non-existent names and sometimes under-aged hirelings as defectors from APC, with the aim of getting undue relevance and huge cash rewards from Wike.”
The party further claimed that Glory, having returned to the PDP alone, organised some unsuspecting villagers in his community, took photographs with them and circulated them in the media as APC members that defected to the PDP in his council.
“His ongoing style is to bring in rented individuals from neighbouring states to his compound, make audio and visual images of them for the media as APC defectors.
But Glory in a counter statement titled; ‘’Rivers APC’s Reaction to mass defection of members to PDP, natural,” said the violent reaction of agents of the APC, to the decamping of their members to the PDP, in the past three months was expected, even though misguided and fraught with false assertions and innuendos.
According to him, “It is no doubt painful, without sounding immodest to lose a politician of my experience, capacity and capability. So I appreciate the pains the APC and their leaders are experiencing because of my exit, but I have no apologies.”
He noted that the fact that over 200 out of the 319 councillorship candidates who are in court against the PDP are set to dump their cases in court and troop into the PDP is also not debatable as the reality would dawn on the APC in the next couple of weeks.”
The new PDP entrant also extends invitation to the doubting APC as to his claim that their members left for the ruling party to study the video of all the several decampees and ascertain for themselves who they are.
He asked: “Is Sunny Wokekoro, former commissioner for Culture and Tourism, and a former chieftain of APC hired? What of Merino Okiraija from Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government area, a former APC stalwart? How do we describe Bob Okala, a former chairman of Emohua Local Government area, Chief Nwankwo Nwankwo, former special adviser to Amaechi and a good number of other APC chieftains?”
Meanwhile, the Rivers PDP chairman, Chief Felix Obuah, has corroborated Glory’s assertion as he expressed gratitude over what he called the mass exodus from APC to the PDP
Obuah in a statement said the massive defections were an evidence of Governor Wike’s good governance and open-minded politics in the state. He affirmed the defection of over 2000 members of the APC, including former councilors of the APC, and its other leaders, which include Nwankwo and Wokekoro also a former commissioner.
Nonetheless, on claims that its councillorship candidate have withdrawn their cases from court and defected to the PDP, the APC countered in yet another statement signed by Dae Stephen Deegbara, that none of its members from across the 319 wards is defecting from the party.
The statement reads: “None of our members have defected. We also want to place on record that the Rivers APC Councilors Forum under our leadership has no plan whatsoever to seek for the withdrawal or the discontinuation of our case before the Appeal Court in Port Harcourt.
“Our case in court is at advanced stage and we believe justice shall be served in no distance time.” However, the soaring popularity of Glory is said to be a source of concern to the opposition in the state, while certain informed sources are of the belief that the ruling party have probably kick-started their campaign for the re-election of Wike, a move that has informed their decision to bring him (Glory) back into their fold.
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