Connect with us


Ebonyi as emerging one-party state



• Gale of defection hits PDP, LP, APGA, others


From Jude Chinedu, Enugu


6 106 10


For many critical observers, Ebonyi is fast turning to a one-party state. This is because the state has never experienced the type of defection it is currently witnessing with chieftains and members of the opposition parties defecting in droves to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

The state, before and after the 2023 general election, had strong opposition that checkmated the then administration and even gave it a good fight during the election proper by producing seats in the House of Representatives and House of Assembly. The opposition parties also gave good account of themselves in the senate and governorship positions though they didn’t win the positions.

After the general elections, Ebonyi became a four-party state. APC won the governorship position, the three senatorial zones in the state, three out of the six House of Representatives seats in the state and 21 out of the 24 House of Assembly seats while Labour Party, PDP and APGA claimed one seat each in the House of Representatives and three House of Assembly positions in the state Assembly.

Labour Party won Ohaozara, Onicha and Ivo Federal Constituency, and PDP won Afikpo/Edda Federal Constituency while APGA won Ezza North/Ishielu Federal Constituency.

All the four political parties in the state; APC, PDP, LP and APGA, survived legal onslaught by aggrieved candidates and aspirants during the election. The aggrieved candidates and aspirants had gone to the tribunal, Appeal Court and Supreme Court to challenge the outcome of the general elections. The courts, however, didn’t upturn the elections of those declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

But immediately the Supreme Court affirmed the election of Governor Francis Nwifuru on January this year, chieftains and members of the opposition parties started defecting to the APC, leaving their parties almost empty.

Only very few leaders of the opposition parties in the state like the governorship candidate of PDP during the general election, Chief Ifeanyi Odii who came second during the election, his APGA counterpart, Professor Bernard Odoh, former Governor of the state who represented Ebonyi North in the senate between 2015 and 2023, Dr. Sam Egwu are still the prominent leaders of the opposition parties remaining in PDP and APGA. There are insinuations that few members serving the National Assembly from the two parties including that of Labour Party, are said to be making moves to join APC.

The National Assembly members of the opposition parties have been hobnobbing with the APC led administration in the state, praising its policies and programmes and even supporting the policies and programmes.

Earlier in the year, many chieftains of the three dominant opposition parties in the state during the 2023 general election, defected to the APC. Those that defected to the party are; Senator Obinna Ogba who represented Ebonyi Central in the senate between 2015 and 2023 and contested the last governorship election, former House of Representatives members, Chief Laz Ogbee and Peter Edeh, four term member of the state House of Assembly and former Deputy Speaker of the House, Chief Odefa Obasi, loyalists of former Senate President and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Anyim Pius Anyim.

Anyim is said to be on his way to the APC which those in the know in the polity said will manifest in a matter of time. He recently chaired the 83rd birthday celebration of a former Governor of the state, Chief Martin Elechi which held in Abakaliki. The event was organized by Governor Francis Nwifuru with political heavyweights within and outside the state in attendance. Anyim who supported the election of Nwifuru and urged his loyalists to work for his election which helped APC to win Ivo local government, the place of the former SGF in a landslide during the governorship election, praised the leadership style of the governor. He commended Nwifuru for bringing the leaders of the state together.

His loyalists who included a two term House of Representatives member, Chief Livinus Makwe, 2023 Deputy Governorship candidate of Labour Party, Ajah Nwabueze, two term House of Assembly member, Oliver Osi among others have already joined APC. They were received into the party by the state Chairman of the party, Chief Stanley Okoro Emegha and Chairman of Ivo local government, Chief Emmanuel Ajah into the party last week in Isiaka, the headquarters of the local government.

Chief Obinna Nwachukwu, former Commissioner for Finance, Chief Tony Ekoh Jnr, former council Chairman and Labour Party House of Representatives candidate for Afikpo/Edda federal constituency during the 2023 general election, another former council Chairman, Chief Ogbonnia Oko Enyim, seven PDP local government Chairmen in the state and many others, also jumped ship and joined the APC.

While defecting with thousands of supporters in the PDP, APGA and Labour Party, at APC office in Abakaliki, Chief Peter Edeh, a former House of Representatives member who contested the 2023 general election to represent his federal constituency, Ezza North/Ishielu federal constituency but couldn’t get his party ticket, pledged to assist in building a better environment in the state polity.

“Some of us are rejoining the party while others are freshers. We decided to join the party because of the friendly atmosphere your people have fostered in the state. I want to pay due recognition to the governor who has demonstrated unparalleled humility in handling the affairs of the state.

“We as a group started supporting him before the election and he won the election landslide in our areas of influences. He has provided good leadership. I am not saying this to massage his ego or yours,” he said.

The state APC Chairman, Chief Stanley Okoro Emegha who promised the defectors equal treatment, said the party can accommodate everyone with genuine intention, stressing that Governor Francis Nwifuru is working with best brains without minding their political parties.

Emegha further noted that the present administration led by Governor Nwifuru is more concerned in re-strategizing in order to make the state a reference point of excellence among thecomity of states.

“I am happy that these multitudes have joined our formidable party today. People celebrate with whom God has already been ordained. APC is not only blessed but it is doing exploits in addressing issues of concerns to the people”. Many of you left the party then just to show your grievances but thank God, the party is hale and hearty and even better now.

“My boss and our Governor, Rt. Hon. Francis Ogbonna Nwifuru has distinguished himself in the leadership of the state. He is a rare leader whose quest to improve lives has remained unparalleled and unchallenged. The governor wants Ebonyi to take the lead as the best among states of the federation. Under his watch, the state is not only competing favourably but is now a reference point of good governance in the nation. Let me inform you that the governor is driving at nothing other than to rapidly and sustainably develop Ebonyi and her people.

“As one of the governor’s lieutenants, I am urging you to be of good cheers and actively participate in the activities of the party. There would be no segregation because we all can be comfortably accommodated. Let’s help the governor actualise his dream for better Ebonyi and her people.

“Let’s help in making this place a preferred economic destination for investors by joining forces with the governor in fighting societal ills such as youth restiveness and insecurity in general. The governor has shown a lot of trust in the ability of persons working with him, hence they are at liberty to bring their expertise and wealth of experience to bare for a better society.

“The governor is only looking for the best brains and your move today has made APC stronger in Ishielu Local Government Area. I still remember all my efforts to get you back before now but I thank God it is happening today. Let us build a stronger and better party and in extension the state. We need experienced people and greenhorns alike to make progress”.

“We are one people and be assured of equal treatment. The party belongs to all of us. Make bold to actively participate in all of our engagements”, he stated.

Meanwhile, the governorship candidate of the PDP in the 2023 general elections in the state, Chief Ifeanyi Odii said that the gale of defection that has continued to hit the PDP in the state will rather strengthen the party instead of affecting it.

He said the defections will rather reposition the party to win future elections, stressing that the party was not perturbed by the gale of defections.

He called on members and supporters of the party to keep faith with it and assured that PDP would bounce back to its winning ways.

Odii in a statement said: “In the last few months, there have been series of defections from one party to another across various political parties in many states in Nigeria, Ebonyi State inclusive.

“The defections in some cases are a direct aftermath of the contentious 2023 general elections which shook Nigeria to its core through the various loopholes and manipulation caused by combined forces of anti-democratic elements and power mongers who tried to usurp the power of the people; in some others, it is strictly driven by personal survival needs.

“In Ebonyi, a state where our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has firmly been established for over 20 years, the gale of defections also reared its head.

“Many of our party members, supporters and lovers of democracy and good governance have inundated many of our leaders, myself inclusive with calls and messages, many expressing concern on the health of our party in Ebonyi State.

“Indeed, Nigeria is a multi-party democracy where our constitution guarantees the right of everyone to belong to any legal organisation of their choice including political parties.

“In our dear PDP in Ebonyi State, many people have decided to leave and join other political parties of their choice and we do not have any intension of stopping them, it is strictly their call.

“It is important, however, that we state clearly that the PDP Family in Ebonyi State is not perturbed by these defections. In fact, we see a great opportunity, an opportunity to rebuild, an opportunity to re-strategize, an opportunity to form a formidable party that is focused and ready for victory.

“Our party members and supporters must understand that it is in our best interest that persons who may have been a clog in the wheels of the party voluntarily give way for genuine, patriotic, honourable and selfless members who are ready to work and build our state.

“There is no doubt that the PDP is organically ingrained at the grassroots in Ebonyi State, and the people are eager that the party groom genuine members who will stand by the ideals of our great party which is clearly rooted in our motto: power to the people.

“There is no doubt that the emergence of credible people in leadership as witnessed in the Obidient movement during the 2023 general election and the victory of the Senegalese new President-elect, Bassirou Diomaye Faye indicate clearly that the people’s power trumps political parties or even government in power.

“It is established, the power resides in the people and the people alone. I therefore call on all members of our great party and supporters of the Anyi’Ga Emeya movement to rest assured that we remain on ground and we remain focused. We are determined to take advantage of the opportunities being presented already to rejig our party for the task ahead.”