By Ignatius Okorocha
The Ebonyi State caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the National Assembly have said that the Governor of the State, Engr. David Umahi, was on his own in his defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Speaking to the National Assembly correspondents at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja Wednesday, the three Senators and five members of the House of Representatives, representing Ebonyi State on the platform of the PDP, said that none of them was moving with Umahi to the APC.
While acknowledging that the governor has the fundamental right to join any political party of his choice, the lawmakers, however, reminded him of the Supreme Court judgement, which forbids members of political parties from defecting to another party unless there is division in the party.
Leader of the group and former governor of Ebonyi State and Senator representing Ebonyi-North Senatorial Zone, Chief Sam Omiyi Egwu, said that Umahi and his immediate family had benefited immensely from the PDP, and should have remained eternally grateful to the party.
He observed that Umahi was appointed the Ebonyi State Chairman of the PDP, made deputy governor of a PDP administration, and was elected for two terms under the banner of the party while pointing out that, as governor, Umahi’s two younger brothers were elected to principal offices of the PDP.
The politician said that while the caucus supported that it was the turn of the South-East to fly the Presidential flag of major political parties come 2023, it was impolitic, indecent and unwise to give ultimatums and conditionalities in a bid to secure zoning.
The statement by the Caucus read: “We, the undersigned members of the Ebonyi State PDP caucus of the National Assembly, wish to address our fellow PDP members and other well-meaning Nigerians, on the defection of the Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi from the PDP to the APC.
“For the sake of clarity, we wish to state that not a single member of the Ebonyi State PDP caucus of the National Assembly is defecting to the APC.
“The three Distinguished Senators and five House of Representatives members remain proud card-carrying members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the platform under which we contested and won elections in 2019.
“The major reason given by Chief Umahi for defecting from the PDP to the APC is now in the public domain which is that the PDP has not been fair to the People of the South-East on the issue of zoning the presidency and vice presidency.
“While we support that it is the turn of the South-East to fly the presidential flag of the major political parties come 2023, yet, we consider it impolitic, indecent and unwise to give ultimatums and conditionalities in a bid to secure zoning.
“Indeed, if there is any Ebonyi person who should remain eternally grateful to the PDP, that individual ought to be the Gov. Umahi; a man who was appointed the Ebonyi State Chairman of the PDP, made deputy governor of a PDP administration, and was elected for two terms under the banner of the PDP.
“As governor, his two younger brothers were elected to principal offices of the PDP; one (Mr Austine Umahi) as the National Vice-Chairman (South East), and another (Mr. Maxwell Umahi) as the Deputy State Chairman of the PDP.
“As democrats, we concede Chief Umahi’s right to join any political association of his choice. However, as Federal Lawmakers we are not unaware of the Supreme Court decision that candidates are products of 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.
“We wish to use this opportunity to thank the leadership of our party, the PDP, for their prompt action in dissolving the ward, local government, state and zonal structures of the party in Ebonyi State, and their announcement of a Caretaker Team.
“We also wish to thank teeming members and supporters in our various constituencies who have remained undaunted and committed to their membership of the PDP. We also wish to thank the South East caucus, and indeed the entire PDP family of the National Assembly.
The lawmakers however, failed to call for the impeachment of the governor, or his resignation, for breaching the law guiding defection from one political party to another, as there is currently no division in the pep.
The eight caucus members who were in attendance during the briefing are: Sen. Sam Ominyi Egwu; Sen. Obinna Ogba, Sen. Mike Ama Nnachi; Hon. Sylvester Ogbaga, Hon. Igariwey Iduma Enwo; Hon. Chukwuma Nwazunku, Hon. Edwin Anayo, and Hon. Livinus Makwe.
The Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia-South), was present at the briefing, perhaps in a show of solidarity with the decision of the caucus.