ANALYSIS: Igbo defections to APC; 2019 and corruption

Ken Nnamani

A realignment of political forces has begun in the South-east geo-political zone ahead of the 2019 general elections.

In the last few months, some prominent politicians in the zone have quit the Peoples Democratic Party to join the All Progressives Congress.

Among the defectors are a former Senate President, Ken Nnamani; a former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu; a former governor of the old Anambra State, Jim Nwobodo; and a former Speaker of the Enugu State House of Assembly, Eugene Odo.

Others are a serving senator, Andy Uba; former Senators Ifeanyi Ararume, John Nwanunu, Nkechi Nwaogu, Fidelis Okoro, Chris Agboti; and a member of the House of Representatives, Tony Nwoye.

Businessmen, Emeka Offor and Ifeanyi Uba as well as the owner of Peace Mass Transit, Sam Onyishi, have also identified with the APC.

For the APC, the biggest catch has so far is Mr. Nnamani. Imo State’s Rochas Okorocha, the lone APC governor in the zone, was so excited at the defection of the former senate president that he declared him the leader of the party in the zone.

Ben Nwoye, who chairs the party in Enugu State, Mr. Nnamani’s home state, said with the defection of the former senate president to the party, “change” had begun to manifest.

Mr. Nnamani’s journey to the APC on January 22 had long been predicted. He left PDP in February 2016, claiming the party had abandoned “the path of its noble vision and values”. He did not state his next destination.

A year later, he said he joined the APC in the interest of the Igbo. “The South-East has a role to play in our nation; we can’t play that role from outside. We have to be inside to pay our role in Nigeria,” he said.

“Even if we want to ask that imbalances in the country should be corrected, we have to ask for that from inside. You cannot criticise, it is not about being confrontational.”

He said the manner the Yoruba voted in 2015 should be an eye-opener.

“They voted both sides but the South-east put their eggs in one basket,” he said. “I am not of the view that everybody should be in APC but those who have seen the need should do so.”

The moves by the defectors have significant political implication for 2019, no doubt. Already, the zonal chapter of the APC is packaging a grand reception for the defectors.

But the PDP, Nigeria’s main opposition party, says it is not losing sleep just yet.

Austin Umahi, its national vice chairman (South East), said those leaving his party have no electoral value and are only rushing into the APC to look for “what they will eat.”

“I don’t lose sleep over that. I’m not bothered because all those leaving have no electoral value. Can they win election in their places? So why should I bother about it?” Mr. Umahi told PREMIUM TIMES by phone.

Insisting the PDP remains the dominant party in the zone, Mr. Umahi, who is Ebonyi governor, Dave Umahi’s brother, said “They (defectors) will regret their actions soon”.

The National Vice Chairman of the APC in the zone, Emma Eneukwu, disagrees.

He told PREMIUM TIMES that the performance of the APC at the federal level is the attraction for Igbo politicians.

“The (federal) government is working, it is performing. We are the in-thing. The main business in Nigeria is government and this government is performing,” Mr. Eneukwu said. “If you want to buy something from the market, is it the person coming from the market that you will send or the person going to the market. APC is the one going to the market.”

Fairly good ride

At present, APC only controls Imo in the South-east. The PDP controls Abia, Enugu and Ebonyi while the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, has Anambra State.

While this appears its moment of greatest test, PDP, for more than a decade, has had a fairly good ride in the region.

Upon restoration of democracy in 1999, the party swept the governorship polls in the five states. In 2003, the party, which was also in power at the federal level, repeated the feat.

However, soon after, Chris Ngige, who had won the governorship election on the platform of the PDP in Anambra State was ousted by the court in 2005, paving the way for Peter Obi of APGA, which has since retained control of the state.

chris-ngige

In 2007, Mr. Kalu, who was rounding off his second governorship term in Abia, floated the Progressives Peoples Alliance, PPA, on whose platform his successor, Theodore Orji, won the election. Mr. Orji, now a senator, later defected to the PDP.

His Imo state counterpart then, Ikedi Ohakim, who had won on the same platform also joined the PDP, thus giving PDP control of four of the South Eastern states. Ebonyi and Enugu have been ruled by the PDP since 1999.

In 2011, Mr. Okorocha won the governorship election on the ticket of APGA but later took a section of the party to join the opposition parties that formed APC.

The PDP has also won virtually all the National Assembly seats in the zone since 1999.

For instance, in 1999, except the senatorial seat of Imo West won by Arthur Nzeribe, Enugu North, won by Hyde Onuaguluchi and Abia Central won by John Nwanunu, all of the defunct All Peoples Party, APP, the remaining 12 senatorial seats in the zone were won by the PDP.

However, midway into his tenure, the court sacked Mr. Onuaguluchi, a catholic reverend, and installed Ben Collins Ndu of the PDP as the senator for the district.

All subsequent senatorial elections in the zone were won by the PDP, except in 2011 when Mr. Ngige won on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, to represents the Anambra Central senatorial district.

The House of Representatives, state assemblies and council chairmanship seats in the zone have always been dominated by the PDP.

In 2015, the PDP won in the three of the four states where governorship elections were conducted. The states were Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi. The APC won in Imo. Wille Obiano had succeeded Mr. Obi on the ticket of APGA in Anambra State in 2014.

In 2015, all the 15 senatorial seats were initially won by the PDP. The APC was later to clinch the Imo North senatorial seat when a bye-election was conducted in that district last year.

Of the 41 House of Representatives seats, the PDP won 38 leaving only three for the APC. The main opposition party also swept majority of the seats in the five state Houses of Assembly.

The PDP also swept the presidential election in the zone. Its candidate, former President Goodluck Jonathan, polled a total of 2,464,906 votes in the zone. His main challenger, Muhammadu Buhari, got a paltry 208,248 votes.

A repeating pattern

The current gale of defections is hardly strange.

At the formation of political parties in 1998, the PDP ran neck and neck in the South-east with the APP, which later became All Nigerian Peoples Party, ANPP.

Prominent Igbo politicians in the APP then were Ken Nnamani, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu; former Imo Governor, Sam Mbakwe; Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu; Arthur Nzeribe, Ben Obi; former Minister, Ihechukwu Maduibuike; Joy Emordi; Max Ndaguibe; Josiah Odunna (the party’s national secretary); Prince Arthur Eze; and Gbazuagu Gbazuagu.

Others were former Senate President, Evan Enwerem; Hyde Onuaguluchi; Ezekiel Izuogu; and current Science and Technology minister, Ogbonnaya Onu.

But steadily, many began turned to the PDP after the December 1998 council polls.

Except notably Messrs. Onu, Ojukwu and Mbakwe, many defected to the PDP, thus making it the dominant party in the zone.

Mr. Ojukwu moved to the newly-formed APGA while Mr. Onu remained in the ANPP until it fused into the APC.

In the Alliance for Democracy, AD, were Third Republic Governor of Anambra State, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Arthur Nwankwo, and Udenta Udenta.

Former senator, Offia Nwali, was in the Movement for Democracy and Justice.

After the 1999 elections, the PDP members from the zone at the outset were former Vice President Alex Ekwueme, Chuba Okadigbo, Mr. Nwobodo, Sylvester Ugoh, Christian Onoh, Polycarp Nwite, Orji Uzor Kalu, Achike Udenwa, Chimaroke Nnamani, Sam Egwu, Ojo Maduekwe, and Edwin Ume-Ezeoke.

Mr. Ume-Ezeoke decamped to the ANPP where he became the national chairman. Mr. Okadigbo also went to the ANPP and became the party’s vice presidential candidate in 2003. Mr. Kalu formed the PPA in 2006.

More to defection

While the defection in those years could be attributed to the desire of the politicians to pick up appointments and remain politically relevant, the current one, ahead of 2019, may go beyond that.

Many believe it is a move by some defector to escape the anti-corruption hammer of the APC-led federal administration.

Ifeanacho Oguejiofor, the Director of Publicity of APGA, believes so.

“Some of those people defecting are federal government contractors and political harlots,” Mr. Oguejiofor told PREMIUM TIMES.

“They are people who want to use the federal might to rig elections. They are not politically relevant. They are people who rig elections every time. The people are not with them.

“They want to be in any party that is in power because they want to loot and embezzle the people’s money. They move to the government in power so that EFCC will not come after them.”

For a regime that has been repeatedly accused of lopsided prosecution of the corruption war, this may not be far from the truth.

For instance, Mr. Nwobodo, who was also a senator, is currently under investigation by the EFCC for receiving N100 million from the former NSA, Sambo Dasuki, who allegedly diverted $2.1 billion meant for arms purchase, to politicians.

But Osita Okechukwu, the Director General of the Voice of Nigeria, says it is strictly about APC’s appeal.

“I think the surge of eminent sons and daughters of Ndigbo into our great party, the APC is worth celebrating; worth celebrating in the sense that it gazettes the indomitable and entrepreneurial spirit of our people,” Mr. Okechukwu told this newspaper.

“It shows that my people appreciate the infrastructural development element in the cardinal programme of President Muhammadu Buhari regime. We are aware that in the fullness of time Nigeria is going to overcome the current hardship, despair and despondency.”

The VON DG further said the president has promised to address the imbalance in the federal appointments and provision of infrastructure, which he claimed would also favour the Igbo.

“Secondly, we are looking ahead on how best to harvest the age-long aspiration for president of Igbo extraction in 2023.

“Indeed, some of us reason that going by the zoning convention, it is faster and better assured to produce a president of Igbo extraction if President Buhari is to do two terms of eight years.”

What’s for 2019

Mr. Eneukwu said with the caliber of people joining his party, the electoral fortunes of the party is assured, beginning with the November governorship election in Anambra State.

“Obviously, we are winning more states. Mind you, some of the governors are definitely coming into the APC. At the end of the day, the little structure remaining in the PDP will be insignificant and that will be the end of the PDP.”

Mr. Eneukwu said the victory of the APC will begin in Anambra.

“We’re winning Anambra. All the strong people in the PDP are moving into the APC. APGA cannot win in Anambra again.”

Reminded that some of those politicians do not share APC’s philosophy, Mr. Eneukwu said “Politics is about power and service to the people and therefore when they get into power they will implement the party’s policies.”

But Mr. Oguejifor disagrees. “It (defection) will not affect anything in Anambra State. Anambra is APGA. They cannot change the electoral outcome in November,” he said.


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  • Watch man

    Following the agitations for the state of Biafra and Obasanjo’s enticing words of Igbo presidency in 2019, the political prostitutes of Igbo extraction are now migrating to APC to see if they could grab power in 2019. This opportunistic move lacks principle. It has been an inordinate feature of a few who are possessed with grabbing power irrespective of how they acquire it. We shall see how far the game would go.

    • Election Watch 2017

      Watch man

      The defeat and ouster of BUHARI in 2019 is a sure bet

      After 20 months in office,
      the bereft Muhamadu Buhari – having only a proved Primary Six certificate
      as furthest extent of completed formal schooling – hasn’t got started on the
      first job of a president, which is, to think.

      There’s no overwhelming evidence
      in sight that anyone in his shambolic cabinet of Ministers has been doing any
      thinking either. Nigerians are the worst for it as the populace get worse and worse
      further mired in perpetual darkness inflicted nationwide by electricity failure wrought
      by the usually incompetent and decidedly corrupt Electricity Minister Raji Fashola.

      If PDP cannot defeat the like of such dunderhead, thief and rogue comprising
      President Buhari’s government, where is the hope for Nigerians who are being
      crushed to extreme poverty by a third quarter consecutive economic recession
      resulting from President Buhari’s economics ignorance? If the opposition PDP
      cannot defeat such a lame duck president, then, who else does PDP want to
      defeat for God’s sake?

      • Dele O.

        @disqus_2ZP9pbGSmf:disqus

        PDP should expel its worst thieves, rebrand the party as a clean party of honesty, set out corrections
        to Buhari’s failing agendas and go on a headhunt for unstained citizens to man the party as professional party managers. The rump of the PDP detritus should stop tussling like dogs over biscuits and recycling notorious empty-heads like Ayo Fayose and Bode George as the face of the party. PDP has far more
        knowledge than Buhari’s APC party to get Nigeria out of economic recession. Left to Buhari Nigeria will
        die in economic recession because Buhari does not what to do. His Ministers and advisers are empty.
        They themselves don’t know what to do. APC is a party of illiterates. APC is worse than bling leading
        the blind. APC is a cancer on Nigeria’s body politic. APC is a useless coalition of Muslims. Terrible!

        • Election Watch 2017

          @disqus_2ZP9pbGSmf:disqus

          The defeat and ouster of BUHARI in 2019 is a sure bet

          After 20 months in office,
          the bereft Muhamadu Buhari – having only a proved Primary Six certificate
          as furthest extent of completed formal schooling – hasn’t got started on the
          first job of a president, which is, to think.

          There’s no overwhelming evidence
          in sight that anyone in his shambolic cabinet of Ministers has been doing any
          thinking either. Nigerians are the worst for it as the populace get worse and worse
          further mired in perpetual darkness inflicted nationwide by electricity failure wrought
          by the usually incompetent and decidedly corrupt Electricity Minister Raji Fashola.

          If PDP cannot defeat the like of such dunderhead, thief and rogue comprising
          President Buhari’s government, where is the hope for Nigerians who are being
          crushed to extreme poverty by a third quarter consecutive economic recession
          resulting from President Buhari’s economics ignorance? If the opposition PDP
          cannot defeat such a lame duck president, then, who else does PDP want to
          defeat for God’s sake?

          • Baka

            Just go and return the loot from your family. Buhari must stay to recover every kobo looted. Mr corruption, your attempt to fight back shall fail!.

          • Sola Omosola

            Is there anything still called PDP? may there is still relish of confused individual remaining who made a rabble-rouser like Fayose a leader, while those to depend on as engine room of what left of the PDP among the South-east, a region that still keep the hope of PDP alive are fast defecting to APC in drove, and you internet politicians are here talking APC will lose in 2019, may be to a new party not to PDP.

            PDP, a political party of family of thieves where when caught with millions of dollars, the only excuse is that the money were gifts from father xmas friends, courtesy Jonathan wife and Andrew Yakubu, may be Dieziani is yet to also name who her donors of billions of dollars seized from her were, because we already knows what happen to money meant for fight against terrorist deposited in the hand of Dasuki for GEJ’s presidential inordinate 2015 ambition.

            In as much as I am not comfortable with way and manner Buhari led APC is polarizing the Jonathan’s damage further, It baffles when I still hear feeble minded individuals talking PDP will win Presidential election in Nigeria, just like Goodluck Jonathan that should cover his shamed-face with tears still have mouth to say PDP he destroyed will win election in 2019, having plunged the country into this current recession with proven revelations of only one individuals like Dieziani and Andrew Yakubu stealing billion of dollars under GEJ’s watch while the rest of 170million Nigerians wallow in abject poverty, then where comes this ongoing recession. Let see if Nigerians forget things easily by 2019. PDP…..MY POPOOO!!!!

      • aboki

        Nigerians would vote 2019 Elections through ballot papers at polling stations not by internet or premium time.
        2019 is by the corner!

    • Celestine T.

      @disqus_2ZP9pbGSmf:disqus

      No need to beat around the bush. Igbo defectors to APC are more likely to be thieves who are looking for

      something to steal. Where is the program of APC they can say they have seen and enjoy? Where is the
      program of APC they can say they want to join and do together? Nothing. They just want to go there and
      look for contracts. Or maybe look for something to steal. The Igbo tribe is a Christian tribe. How can

      Christians now be saying they are enjoying Islamic Jihad too much, they don’t want holy sacrament
      in church again, how possible? I think the love of money is the problem of the Igbo people.

      • okenwa

        They run to apc to protect their loot and continue to loot. None of those thieves can get igbo votes for apc so wait if another party wins 2019 they will also defect to the party.

  • marc umeh

    PDP is obviously in a bad shape. They need to find new blood and reformulate the party starting with a name change and formation of alliances with other parties. I can’t see any other way forward at this juncture. The stench oozing from 16 years of profligacy , mismanagment and ungodly corruption is too strong to ignore.

    • Dgreatest

      The problem is not about political parties, but about Nigerians. The system is corrupt, starting from the school system, at homes.

      Our corrupt politicians were not imported from foreign lands, they came from amongst the people, they did not become corrupt when they won elections, corruption has been in their system.
      So many Nigerians crying about corruption in govt will do same, and stil loot funds when they get into office .
      Even the activist lawyers championing the campaign against corruption ,most will do worse things than the present looters if given the opportunity to be in govt.
      The solution is changing the mindset of Nigerians.

      One govt is full of corruption, then you vote in a new govt only to find out they are as bad as the previous govt

      In 2019 , judging from the league of politicians we have both in PDP and APC, I don’t see any credible candidates, they are all the same, the only difference is that they represent different political parties

      • marc umeh

        How do we begin to change this mindset.?
        I have no ideas

        • Okokondem

          It won’t be easy nor will it seem appropriate or acceptable by some Nigerians, but mostly international organizations and institutions such as Amnesty International. But one thing we know in life is special problems call for special solutions, and saying that corruption in Nigeria is a special problem is no exerggeration. Therefore it needs special solution.

          China for instance, recognizing the impact and effectiveness of repercussions as a deterrent to criminal behavior, and their indifference to the hue and cry from the aforementioned international institutions such as Amnesty International, implemented extreme repercussions for certain crimes against the state. Nigeria needs to implement similar policies in order to send a strong message that certain criminal behavior will not be tolerated.

          Of course adopting such policies or laws is easier said than done. Unlike in China where the communist system of government makes it much easier to formulate these stringent anti corruption policies, it would not be easy in Nigeria especially since those who would formulate such laws unfortunately are the perpetrators of these crimes against the state.

          What is not clear to me is whether Nigerian constitution has provisions to use national referendum (plebiscite) as a remedy or an option to circumvent a dysfunctional legislature. If there’s such a provision problems such as bloated salaries and allowances for members of the legislatures can be curbed through a referendum.

          As for the specific subject of discussion here, I have zero confidence in any of the so called leaders to start worrying about anyone other than themselves and that includes these Igbo political jobbers. These men and women of politics have demonstrated over and again lack of care and empathy for those they rule. The same people jumping ship today would return to the PDP, or a new party if APC were to lose in the next presidential election. Go figure!

        • okenwa

          Change the law and anybody found corrupt must face death by hanging. China did it to get where they are today. Before you hang one or two looters the mind set of nigerians will definitly change. Thats my view.

  • Apostel

    Pigs, all Pigs.

    • straight-to-the-point

      @disqus_rQTB1xzl0A:disqus

      UNLESS NIGERIANS ARE FEELING SOMEWHAT SUICIDAL PRESIDENT BUHARI IS A ONE-TERM PRESIDENT.

      PRESIDENT MUHAMADU BUHARI HAS DESTROYED ALL THE PILLARS OF SOCIETY WITH HIS IGNORANCE.

    • Toni

      @disqus_rQTB1xzl0A:disqus

      I want to complain bitterly. I did not have
      any pimples before in my life. But when Buhari took power I now have
      rashes all over my body because of too much heat. No electricity for three
      months to sleep. What sort of useless government is this? Military rule in
      uniform is far better than this useless Buhari/APC government. If Army should
      take over I will not protest anything. This is not nascent democracy. What we
      have under Buhari is Dundee rule of illiterates!

  • haba mallam

    Finally the Igbos are beginning to wake up, There will be one Nigeria for EVER get it. Baboons from the creeks take notice!

    • ayomi

      Great way to build allies

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  • James Jacobus

    Sadness washes over me as I see the repeat of mass exodus of so-called Igbo politicians from one dying party to another party which is under death sentence; Igbos are a laughing stock in the Nigerian body politic. They are people without any iota of wisdom, without any conviction. The “follow the food trail ” politics did not begin with the Igbos, but they certainly have put a shine on it. Question: what are these sniffing scoundrels of the Pavlov syndrome going to do when in the very near future APC breaks up along the obvious fault lines of internal northern bickering over a successor to the ailing Buhari and Yoruba versus North blow-up if the Yorubas expect Osinbajo to carry on after Buhari
    Igbos, think. To attract respect, you must first respect yourself. Isn’t it better to built a power bloc around , say, APGA and create a strong platform to negotiate from. Awo did it, AD did it, Tinubu has done and is still doing it. Follow follow for individual and personalized monetary gain insults the Igbos, debases and exposes them to ridicule.

    • ayomi

      One of the main strengths of Ibo is their individualism, it is a blessing and a curse. I think It stands in the way from from having one voice and line up behind a leader

      Ibo need to have series of meetings before deciding while Yoruba, because of its respect for elders fall in line easily (this can also be a curse)

      If the whole of Nigeria should give Ibo nation permission today to pick the next president of 2019, the Ibo will likely will not be able to. Reason being countless meetings will have to take place, well beyond 2019

  • ayomi

    What upsets me about PDP Ibo/Yoruba jumping into bed with APC is that none of them is making stopping Fulani atrocities in the South a condition for joining APC

    Amazing that these people are joining APC while Buhari would not even speak on the killings been done by the fulani herdsmen

    • wode

      Well discerning people are equipped/talented to identify difference between real issue and propaganda. When propaganda are being thrown all around they keep their calm because they know that it’s all ephemeral. I can only have hope in you understanding what I mean.

      • ayomi

        I too hope that you understand my concern that Fulani herdsmen rampaging across the country is not an issue for these politicians is tragic

        For non Fulani in APC/PDP and even most governors not to make this an issue is beyond my imagination

        Propaganda or not, It is their constituents who are being killed and ravaged daily

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  • thusspokez

    Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Olaudah Equiano, K. O. Mbadiwe, Chinue Achebe, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Dora Nkem Akunyili, Paul Robeson, Cyprian Ekwensi, Nwankwo Kanu, Prince Nico Mbarga, JJ Okocha, Bianca Odumegwu-Ojukwu…can you hear me? It is me calling, can you hear me?–For your Igbo politicians are fast selling their souls and that of the Igbo race in return for crumbs off Buhari’s table.

    They have consequently, banished self-respect, pride, confidence and integrity from the Igbo nation. Chineke! Is this now how low some Igbos leaders are prepare go?

    • wode

      It’s not new. It’s about people and their value system. I have predicted this in the past. See my comment above.

    • okenwa

      Are those you defectors igbo leader os self serving politicans?

  • wode

    I have said it several times in the past. many Igbo politicians can’t play opposition and they don’t even know how to play it. They prefer staying at Olorunsogo (tapping from ready-made meal) and not Surulere (believe in an established idea, nurture it and see the efforts towards its achievement to fruition). I predicted that many of them, including some sitting Governors, would defect to the ruling party. Unfortunately that type of attitude don’t take people to the top it only offers survival!

    Love him or hate him, this is one of the reasons why people like Tinubu, and all that decided not to join or align force with PDP during its 16-year reign would ever remain revered and respected.

  • Henry

    I now respectTinubu not for anything but his steadfastness in opposition politics.