By EMMANUEL AZIKEN, POLITICAL EDITOR & CHIDI NKWOPARA
The nation’s political landscape was redefined, yesterday, after Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State defected from the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, to the yet unregistered All Progressive Congress, APC. The defection during a public rally at the Heroes Square, Owerri was witnessed by eight governors from opposition political parties. Okorocha indicated that as many as 12 governors possibly from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had given indication to boost the ranks of the opposition governors to 23 from 11.
The move was immediately flayed by the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. According to Imo State Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chief Blyden Amajirionwu, this was another indication of Governor Okorocha’s determination to hang on to power in any shape.
National chairman of APGA, Chief Victor Umeh shied away from commenting on the matter as he didn’t respond to a text message sent to him on the issue. Okorocha’s defection was witnessed by governors from Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Ekiti, Edo, Osun, Nasarawa and Borno states. Flanked by his wife, Nkechi and the visiting governors, an elated Okorocha explained that the merger of some political parties was being engineered by those he called “a crop of seasoned, patriotic politicians who want to rescue the nation from the quagmire inflicted on it by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.” Okorocha gave assurance that Ndigbo have embraced APC because of what he termed their sad experience in the hands of the PDP at the federal and state levels, pointing out that the party has been consigned to the dustbin of history in Imo State. He advised Imo people to sustain their spirit of democracy and good governance through the rejection of the PDP and all that the party stands for in all future electoral exercises. “I must commend all the governors that have chosen to come under the APC umbrella, especially as this is a sure way of ending bad administration in this God blessed country”, Okorocha said. Lamenting the fate of the country in the last 12 years under different PDP federal administrations, Okorocha who derided the party as “people deceiving people”, said: “this ugly trend has pauperized Nigerians through poverty of vision and project implementation.
Never again will Nigeria represent a nation in bondage.” In his speech, Governor Babatunde Fashola, SAN, of Lagos State, commended Okorocha for his spirit of patriotism in joining the APC family, adding that the coalition marked the beginning of a veritable change for positive transformation and reformation in the country. Fashola, Ajimobi laud Okorocha Fashola said: “We in APC are committed to a change for the betterment of our dear nation and our people. The coming of APC is neither borne out of selfishness nor greed but a positive step to liberate our people from a state of hopelessness”.
Adding an element of humour into the event, Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, announced that Okorocha had been conferred with the title of “Girigi of Oyo State”. Ajimobi said: “Those who have accepted to join and identify with APC would enjoy everlasting divine blessing, while those still procrastinating on when and how to do so, would have their blessings deferred”. He commended Governor Okorocha for “his landmark achievements that have ultimately brought smiles on the faces of Imo people,” stressing that Imo people should continue to support him.
Meanwhile, the state capital, Owerri virtually stood still yesterday as schools, markets and a good number of business centres were closed for most of the day on account of the defection. Responding to the defection, the PDP spokesman, Chief Amajirionwu said: “What he did is one of those unserious things that are always associated with him. “In the history of Nigeria, the South East was never known to play opposition politics.
What is counted today as APC is a Yoruba party and if you come to the political history of this country we in the South East have always played along the national tendency, not playing along sectional issues. I want to assure you that in Imo State not even a ward, not to talk of a local government would go the way of APC. “Rochas is on his own and that is his nature which we have been saying to everybody. Rochas is not dependable, look at the party that sponsored him, look at how he has dumped and disgraced APGA. APGA is not even backing him on what he is doing and this is APGA that sponsored him to where he is now. And that is a lesson for those now with him because he would also one day dump them and move on.”