The Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, said on Tuesday night that the November 2013 defection of five governors from the Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress was a major factor determining the APC’s victory in the last general elections.
Governors Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano, Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto, Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara, Murtala Nyako of Adamawa and Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers States joined the APC after staging a walk out on the PDP national convention in Abuja.
Speaking at a valedictory dinner organised by the Progressive Governors Forum, and held in honour outgoing governors, Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, Messrs Kwankwaso, Amaechi and Wamakko, Mr. Okorocha said “make no mistake about it, without the five Governors that joined the APC in 2013, we would not be here today”.
The Imo Governor, who is also the chairman of the PGF, said the five governors took an enormous risk given what he described as a “vindictive” Federal Government.
He cited the example of Mr. Nyako, who was impeached by the Adamawa State House of Assembly over allegations of gross financial misconduct in June 2014.
Many believe that the impeachment was prompted because Mr. Nyako had written a scathing letter to President Jonathan accusing the Federal Government of carrying out genocide against the people of the North East.
Mr. Okorocha said by coming to the APC, the governors transformed “a fledgling opposition into a national political movement”.
“…The moment the PDP lost five Governors was the moment it lost the presidency and its planned 60 years in power,” he said.
Also speaking at the occasion the National Chairman of the APC, John Oyegun, said the outgoing governors raised the bar for their newly elected colleagues by their performance in office.
He urged their successors to exceed the standard they have set.
Mr. Oyegun said in less than two years of its formation, the APC had succeeded in winning the presidency, more states and controlling the majority in the two chambers of the National Assembly.
“From 14 Governors we now have 22 and God told me we will end with either 24 or 25”.
“I cannot say how proud I am to lead a party that has made history,” Mr. Oyegun said.
He told all the elected officials in the gathering that Nigerians expect a lot from them and that the APC is taking over at a period of intense challenge. “This nation has been run aground,” he said.
He reminded them that not only Nigerians, but the whole world supported change in the country. Mr. Oyegun urged the elected officials not to waste time in tackling the challenges in the country because “the whole world would be watching us as from May 29”.
Also, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, said the outgoing Governors by their performance have given the incoming administration an agenda to pursue.
He also paid tribute to the five Governors saying their movement to the APC greatly enhanced the fortune of the party and led to the defeat of the PDP.
“They chose the difficult path, rather than the easy way out,” Mr. Atiku said.
The former VP also advised the APC to learn from the mistakes made by the PDP.
He said the party has no option than to perform.
“We must be open and transparent, not like the PDP, we must avoid winner takes all, greed, arrogance, impunity and corruption, ” Mr. Atiku said.
A national leader of the APC and former national Chairman of the defunct ANPP, Ogbonnaya Onu, said although the challenges before the party are enormous, the calibre of the officials gives him the confidence that the party will not only meet, but exceed the expectations of Nigerians.
Mr. Onu said Nigerians have already began adjusting to the disciplined way of life that is about to come.