Fifteen ward chairmen of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Maiduguri Metropolitan Council of Borno State on Friday defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The defectors created confusion when they stormed Government House Maiduguri to declare their support for the ruling party.
Their defection came a day to a crucial election in which two of the PDP’s strongest candidates are vying for senatorial and House of Reps seats in the same constituency.
Maiduguri Metropolitan Council is one of the largest in Borno State. Apart from being the state capital, it is also a federal constituency, as well as the largest voting centre within Borno Central senatorial district.
The outgoing governor, Kashim Shettima, is the APC candidate for Borno Central and faces a former occupant of the seat, Abba Aji, the candidate of the PDP.
The 15 ward chairmen said they left the PDP because the party has not offered them any convincing argument that it would do better than what the ruling APC has done for the state in the past three years and nine months.
Kabiru Babagana, the chairman of Bolori II Ward, spoke on behalf of the defectors.
“We the 15 ward chairmen and our secretaries have decided to leave the PDP because the leadership has always failed us when it comes to times of election,” said Mr Babagana.
“Besides, the ruling APC has done so much for Borno state since 2015. The APC-controlled federal government has not only helped us to decimate Boko Haram but also helped to rebuild our schools, hospitals and markets.
“After a thorough consultation with our supporters in the 15 wards, we concluded that posterity will not judge us kindly if we continue to oppose a government that has done so much for us and brought succour to our people.”
Another speaker, Mukhtar Sheriff, who is the chairman Mafoni Ward, said they left the party because the government in Borno state has left them with no option.
“We are humbled by the achievements of Governor Kashim Shettima, who despite our state of insecurity has done his best to keep our state running,” said Mr Sheriff.
“And we have decided to join him and his governorship candidate so that we can all build a better Borno state.
“It is for that reason that we decided to leave the PDP with its baggage of controversy to join the ruling APC and support all it’s candidates from the president down to House of Assembly here in Maiduguri.”
The defectors were received by the current member of the federal House of Representatives, Kadiri Rahis, who is also a candidate in Saturday’s election.
Mr Rahis said the governor appreciated their decision to join the party. He urged them to come out en masse to vote for the party in the Saturday and subsequent elections.
He also advised them to vote quietly and avoid any act of violence.
Efforts to get a reaction from the PDP state secretary, Baba Ahmed, failed as his phone could not be reached at the time of filing this report.