2023: Rivers PDP, APC stakeholders in cross defections
• Amaechi deceived us- Ikanya, Aguma. • PDP was ‘living in bondage,’ Onyia, Nwaorgu
In readiness for the 2023 general election cycle, some stakeholders in Rivers State chapters of both Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) have begun migrations across party lines.
The highlight of the cross defections happened over the weekend, when two former state chairmen of APC, Dr. Davies Ikanya and Igo Aguma led 17 other chieftains of the opposition platform to join the governing PDP in the state. That was just as two former commissioners in Governor Nyesom Wike’s administration, had on May 16, 2021 ran into APC.
The former PDP faithful who defected to APC include, Dr. Reason Onyia, the immediate-past commissioner for Urban Development and Rural Planning and Hon. Charles Nwaorgu, immediate-past commissioner for Agriculture among others.
Watchers of Rivers State politics traced the recent developments to the lingering grievances and allegations of marginalization by the party leaders.
Speaking during their formal defection, the pioneer state Chairman of APC, Ikanya apologised to his followers from various Local Government Areas of the state for misleading them over the years.
While describing APC as a personal property, Ikanya said: “After my time, it has been from one appointment to another, how can a political party be appointing its state chairman? It means the party has become a personal property.”
He accused APC in Rivers State of favouring only one person and not for Rivers people, stressing, “We formed APC in Rivers State with good intentions, but unfortunately people hijacked the entire party machinery and turned it into their personal business, where they sit down in their comfort zone to make decisions for us. And it got to a point, where we couldn’t take it anymore.”
Ikanya disclosed that based on the above reasons, he had to find his way back to PDP, where he started from, noting that “PDP was home to all of us, until we made the wrong move into the APC, we are happy to be back here today.”
Also, in his remarks, Aguma alleged that the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, has been trading with APC for personal gains, stressing that the minister “has been deceiving us, we have not seen any form of Federal Government’s presence in Rivers State rather, what we have seen is 419. He wants to be the only Minister, the only appointee of APC in Rivers.
“He has done everything humanly possible to ensure that APC in Rivers is dead. Last time the party offered us options to be on the ballot paper, but Amaechi rejected it, because he does not want any other person to emerge in Rivers. He has been using his position as a minister for personal aggrandizement, now there are many issues that has shown that he (Amaechi) is criminally minded.”
However, while the APC turncoats decried deception, marginalization by the party’s leader, those who left PDP for APC, have also stated that staying in PDP under Governor Wike was similar to ‘Living in Bondage.’
For instance, Onyia told journalists in Port Harcourt shortly after his defection that he was excited to leave PDP, stressing that he has seen freedom and future in APC, remarking that he decided to join APC in order to work with Amaechi and others to liberate the state.
Onyia stated: “It was my father, Dr. Peter Odili, that introduced me to Amaechi to work with him as a heavy weight politician, and today I am back to him.”
Speaking during the ceremony marking Onyia’s defection, Amaechi, who said Rivers State is in ‘a complete danger’, attributed the growing insecurity in the state to unemployment.
The Minister accused the current state government of concentrating only on road infrastructure, but failing to articulate projects that would generate employment and grow the state’s economy.
Conversely, Wike, who spoke at the weekend, while welcoming the former APC stalwarts to PDP, accused Amaechi of embezzling proceeds from the sales of the state aircraft and power stations.
The governor offered to resign from his office as governor, if Amaechi can mention any federal project he has attracted to Rivers State as a Minister since 2015.
He explained that Amaechi, his predecessor, had claimed he sold a Dash8 aircraft purchased by former Governor Peter Odili’s administration to Government of Cross River State at the cost of $6million, but failed to account for the proceeds of the transaction till date.
Governor Wike also disclosed that the state government using intelligence was able to trace the Dash 8 aircraft to Germany, where Amaechi had clandestinely diverted it to in 2012.
He said Amaechi’s stint in office as governor was characterised by financial malfeasance, even as he maintained that the minister diverted the $308million paid by Sahara Energy to acquire the state Independent Power Projects.
In addition, Wike disclosed that Amaechi spent $39.9million of state funds on non-existent, Justice Karibi Whyte Hospital in Port Harcourt. He cited several projects he attracted to Rivers State, while he was Minister of State for Education under President Goodluck Jonathan administration, challenged Amaechi to emulate him by reviving the moribund Port Harcourt seaports in order to create employment opportunity for Rivers’ youths.
APC chieftains that defected to PDP include: Chief Ogbogbo Nnamdi; Hon. Isobo Jack (former caretaker chairman, APC); Barrister Paul Nwankwoala, (former APC legal adviser); Hon. Faaye Franklin; Chief Andy Nweye (pioneer APC spokesperson) and Hon. Alamese Martins-Yellow.
Others are Hon. Ilamabo Mirila; Dr. More Oja-Chinda; Hon. Benibo Anabraraba (former minority leader, Rivers State House of Assembly); Hon. Alphine Whyte and Hon. Wisdom Wakama (former minority leader, Rivers State House of Assembly).
In a swift response, state APC spokesman, Ogbonna Nwuke, said Governor Nyesom Wike has continued to recycle baseless lies, to the extent that reasonable and rational Rivers people are tired of listening to them.
Nwuke added: “The question to ask the Governor is, why is he finding it difficult to prosecute a man who is not covered by immunity at this time for his alleged crimes while in office as Governor? It does not require rocket science to carry out this task.
“People who are guilty are not tried in the court of public opinion. They are tried in open court. Wike should lead the prosecution team to court if he is sure of his facts, or shut up forever. This man chose on a day that Nigeria is mourning to organize a jamboree. It is a shame that he is going about pretending to be sane. It is a shame indeed.”