As the 2019 general elections draw near, some key players in the different political parties in the country are re-aligning in what seems in football arena as transfer window by defecting to other parties to actualise their gameplan and further their political interests.
So far, Bukola Saraki, Senate President, the governors of Benue, Kwara and Sokoto states and some of their Assemblymen, deputy governor of Kano, 14 Senators and 37 members of House of Representatives have keyed into the window season of the political period by leaving All Progressives Congress, APC, for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and African Democratic Party, ADP.
From the grapevine, some major PDP gladiators and other political parties in some states are rumoured to be in the wings of defecting to the ruling APC. Others are to said to align or re-align with parties of their choice to maintain their relevance in the unfolding political manoeuvring.
An anonymous source confided in Straightnews that the Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State has reached a pinnacle of defection and is waiting in the wings to join APC.
Akpabio who ruled the state from 2007-2015 and is a stalwart of the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is said to have re-aligned with powerful forces in APC to defect in order to wrestle political power from the ruling PDP in Akwa Ibom.
It is believed that relations between Akpabio, a former Governor of Akwa Ibom State and his successor, Udom Emmanuel, who he singled-handedly installed in 2015, have been frosty for past three years even though both men have pretended to have a cosy relationship with each other in public.
Straightnews gathered that Akpabio has had talks with Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the APC national chairman. Few days ago, he had a long-drawn meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa over his planned defection.
The source told Straightnews that Akpabio might want to join APC to get out of the hook of perceived persecution over allegation of sleaze while he was a governor.
Again, Akpabio having been betrayed by his successor thinks the only way he could pay him back was to leave the party which at the national level is ready to offer him an automatic ticket. His political masterstroke is to stay outside the party to pull strings to floor Emmanuel on the slippery canvass.
Some political analysts see Udom who does believe in using money to build political empire walking a tightrope as he has not built a solid structure to use in challenging the upcoming APC political bulldozers in the state or if he insists on confronting the heavyweights then he may be betrayed by many politicians who believe that the governor in his second term may use and dump them later.
It is alleged that Akpabio would have defected to the party before now but some forces in Akwa Ibom caucus objected to his admission for fear of him hijacking the party’s structure.
Straightnews learnt from the source that the Senate Minority leader has had a series of meeting with Nsima Ekere, Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC and Umana Okon Umana, the Managing Director of Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA), among other APC’s leaders restrategising to grab power from the sitting governor.
Though Akpabio attended PDP’s National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting last week, he shunned Thursday’s NEC meeting of the PDP in Abuja that formally welcomed Bukola Saraki, Senate President and other defectors to the party.
Speaking in an interview Friday on Channels Television, Lagos, Akpabio denied the defection story.
Efforts by Straightnews reporter in Uyo to reach Anietie Ekong, his media aide proved abortive as he did not pick his phone calls nor replied to text message sent to him to confirm the story.
A report from THEWILL indicates also that on the list of likely defectors from the PDP to the APC are Governors –Ifeanyi Uwuanyi (Enugu), Ben Ayade (Cross River) and Dave Umahi (Ebonyi).
Two senior members of the government with knowledge of the development, who asked to remain anonymous, said talks have been ongoing to receive the defectors into the APC.
It is further gathered that Governors Ugwuanyi and Ayade are no longer comfortable with the PDP following disagreements between them and the leadership of the party under Uche Secondus coupled with the influences of Senate Deputy President, Ike Ekweremadu, who is from Enugu and Senator Liyel Imoke, the former Cross River Governor over the parties’ affairs in their states.
Ayade, who has been struggling to perform like his predecessor, Imoke, had reached out to President Muhammadu Buhari’s top aides and indicated his interest to defect. He is the only opposition governor in the South-South who has hosted Buhari twice and was recently on the president’s entourage to the ECOWAS summit in Togo.
It is also gathered that Governor Ugwuanyi has been tactically shying away from PDP affairs as he perfects his exit.
As for Umahi, our sources said the governor has never hidden his affection for President Buhari. “His defection is also a matter of time,” the source added.