Over 5,000 members of the All Progressives Congress in Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State on Friday defected to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party in the state
The defection was an integral part of events witnessed during the official flag-off of Governor David Umahi’s 2019 re-election campaign held at the Nwanoyo Stadium, Ikwo.
Flagging off the campaign, which was attended by a mammoth crowd, Umahi derided his major opposition contender for the governorship seat in the State, Sunny Ugbuorji of the APC, as lacking the moral justification to contest election on the platform of a party he had hitherto fought against, and regarded the ambition as mere waste of time.
He emphasized that the PDP was in control of over 97.99 percent of Ebonyi population and expressed optimism that if the party could mop up over 90 per cent of Ikwo votes in 2015 amidst stiff opposition from the then Governor, it would in the coming election sweep all the votes.
Umahi warned that he was not going to spare any political or public office holders who would work against the interest of the PDP, adding that appointment to positions in Government would be based the level of support received from each of the LGAs.
The governor, who reeled out innumerable developmental projects accruing to Ikwo people from his administration, further promised the people of the establishment of 1000 KVA bio plant for power generation, return of engineers to the Oferekpe water scheme as well as the commencement of a bridge across Oferekpe river to Cross River State, which soil testing had already started.
Umahi said: “This is a wonderful start.
“People might not know this is ordinary local government campaign, not a zonal or state rally.
“The mobilization today is unprecedented.
“We are taken notice of the mobilization as we go round the 13 local government areas.
“We started our flag off in 2015 from Ikwo even when your son was not the Deputy Governor and we got over 90 per cent.
“I do not want to waste our time mentioning what we have done in Ikwo.
“In the next one month, we will have 1000 KVA bio plant.
“The bridge from Oferekpe to Cross River, we are doing the soil test.
“We are getting those contractors who did Oferekpe to come back.
“Those masquerading that they are contesting against us lack moral justification.
“They are wasting their time.
“Do not allow people to divide you.
“Everyone that is supporting PDP must vote for PDP candidates.
“On Sunday by 1pm, we are declaring house to house campaign.
“We control over 97.99 per cent of the people of Ebonyi state and we have nothing to fear.
“We are going to resist any form of manipulation.
“Anybody that is taking money should be very careful because Ebonyians will not allow you.
“If you are in PDP and you are saying vote for this and not for that, if I catch you, I will expel you.
“And if you are a public or political office holders, and we catch you, we are going to suspend you.”
In a welcome remark earlier, Umahi’s Deputy, Kelechi Igwe, who is from Ikwo, described the governor as a marketable product, stressing that he had out performed his predecessor and former Governor who hails from Ikwo.
Igwe emphasized that Ikwo people were poised to return Umahi with 100 per cent of their votes come March.
Igwe stressed: “Umahi is the governor that other governors are copying to show good administration in Nigeria.
“I stand on this platform of peace, unity, development, increase, advancement and everything that is good.
“I want to say that Ikwo have spoken today like we did in 2015.
“Ikwo people are saying you are marketable, that is why we turned out in our numbers to receive you.
“That which we say in 2014 is still fresh in our minds.
“We will not disappoint you because you have outperformed our sons who have once administered this state.
“We will not relent in this promise.
“We shall show you our report cards in this general election that we have delivered all our PDP candidates.”
Speaking on behalf of the defectors, Anyigor Vincent assured Umahi of their votes in the forthcoming gubernatorial election.
Vincent regretted that they were told in 2015 that Umahi was a “thief” who should not be voted, but expressed happiness that the votes to the Governor then has tremendously paid off.
He noted further that they were attracted back to join hands with the governor to advance his unprecedented transformation agenda for the State.
Anyigor noted: “In 2015, we were told not to vote for David Umahi that he is a ‘thief’.
“But today, we have seen how a ‘thief’ behaves, and if this is how a ‘thief’ behaves, we want this type of ‘thief’.
“We are more than 5,000 and Your Excellency, in the next election, we are going to vote the Peoples Democratic Party.”
The event, which featured the handing over of the party flags to the flag bearers in the various levels of elective positions, was also adopted to flag-off the disbursement of the sum of N10 million to communities in Ebonyi State for their chosen projects.
All the party’s representatives at the State and federal levels, including former Governor, Sam Egwu, were among the dignitaries that graced the flag off.
Others were Onyekachi Nwebonyi, State PDP Chairman; Austin Umahi who is the South East chairman of the PDP; as well as Fidelis Nwankwo, the Director General of the Divine Mandate Campaign Organisation, among others.