President Muhammadu Buhari has hailed the defection of Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), describing it “as a bold move driven purely by principle rather than opportunistic motives.”
Buhari said: “I am proud of Governor David Umahi for taking this bold decision in accordance with his conscience and principles rather than any external influence or coercion.
“Good governance is very important to us in the APC, and I am glad that the governor has cited this as a major factor in his decision to join us. I urge our citizens to pay less emphasis on identity politics if we want our democracy to make a positive impact on our country.
“With men like Umahi, I foresee a brighter future for our democracy because the voters will be more motivated by performance records of parties and their candidates.
“Let me once again commend the boldness of Governor Umahi for taking this courageous decision in a country where principles are in short supply among many. I know people might call him names, but that is the price men of principles have to pay for acting according to their conscience and convictions.”
MEANWHILE, the Ebonyi State Caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the National Assembly has disowned Umahi for his move from the PDP to APC.
The senator representing Ebonyi North, Sam Egwu, who spoke at a press conference in Abuja, yesterday, said no member of the National Assembly from the state had defected to the APC along with Umahi.
Egwu, a former governor of the state, said: “No single member of the PDP Ebonyi caucus of the National Assembly is defecting.
“The three senators and five House of Representatives members remain proud card-carrying members of the PDP, the platform under which we contested and won elections in 2019.
“We wish to state that not a single member of the Ebonyi State PDP Caucus of the National Assembly is defecting to the APC.
“Why we support the fact that it is the turn of the South-East to fly the presidential flag of any of the major political parties come 2023, yet, we consider it impolitic, indecent, and unwise to give ultimatum and conditionality in a bid to secure zoning.
“Indeed, if there is any Ebonyi person who should remain eternally grateful to the PDP, that individual should be Governor David Umahi who was appointed Ebonyi State chairman of the PDP, made deputy governor of the PDP administration, and was elected for two terms under the banner of the PDP.
“As governor, his younger brothers were elected to principal offices of the PDP. One Mr. Austine Umahi as the South-East Zonal Vice Chairman of the PDP and another Maxwell Umahi as the Deputy State Chairman of the PDP.
“As Democrats, we concede to Umahi’s right to join any political party of his choice. However, as federal lawmakers, we are aware of the supreme counter-decision that candidates are products of the political parties, what it means is that political office holders are not at liberty to migrate from one political platform to another, particularly when there is no division in their party.”
HOWEVER, the governor’s decision to defect from PDP to APC has been described as a welcome development that revives the Zikist Eagle Alliance taking place in the South-East geopolitical zone.
A Chieftain of APC and Director-General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr. Osita Okechukwu, while “congratulating the Ebonyi State governor for making the bold move,” said that by joining the governing APC at this point in time, Umahi had activated the Zikist Eagle Alliance, which involves North and East.
Okechukwu said: “In fact, I congratulate His Excellency, David Umahi, for flying the pragmatic ZIKIST EAGLE Alliance, which governed the First and Second Republics of Nigeria. It is a welcome development, especially given that he is leading the squad of his governor colleagues and other prominent Igbo leaders to reinforce the revived Zikist North and East alliance.”