By Bassey Inyang
Barring any last minute change, all is set for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie Oyegun, to receive defectors from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Calabar, Cross River State, into the APC.
It was gathered from reliable sources within the APC that the Governor of Nasarawa State, Alhaji Ibrahim Al-Makura, and some members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the APC will also be part of the entourage that will receive the PDP defectors, among them some heavy weight politicians.
CrossRiverWatch gathered from sources that preparations are on top gear to formally receive them at a rally billed for the UJ. Esuene Stadium in Calabar by month end when the state chapter of the APC will host the party’s South-South zonal meeting.
Topping the list of those expected to decamp include the former Leader of the Senate, Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN); former Minister of Health and Works, Dr. Emmanuel Nsan, who served during the military regime of President Muhammadu Buhari; former PDP state governorship aspirant, Mr. Jedy Agba; Chief Utum Eteng and a former PDP senatorial aspirant, Chief Sam Bassey.
Third Republic governor of the state, Mr. Clement Ebri, whom sources said worked silently for Buhari during the build-up to the last general election, will also be formally received into the party at the rally.
The source also said former governor of the state, Donald Duke, is one of the possible defectors, but he was yet to communicate his final stance as to whether he will join the APC or not.
It was further learnt that discussions were going on between Duke and the national leadership of the APC to dump the PDP.
“The national leaders of APC and Duke have been talking, but I cannot really say what has been agreed. But, Duke’s former Chief of Staff, James Aniyom, will be received into the APC,” the source who pleaded not to be mentioned told CrossRiverWatch.
A very reliable source also informed CrossRiverWatch that some former board members of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) from the state, among them, Mr. Paul Adah will be formally received from the PDP to the APC during the rally.
It was also gathered that other members of the PDP expected to decamp to the APC include two former chiefs of staff who served in the previous administrations in the state, two former members of the House of Representatives, two former deputy speakers, among them Chief Orok Duke, and four former members of the state House of Assembly.
Some former members of the state executive committee of the PDP and their supporters will also decamp during the rally, the sources said.
CrossRiverWatch further gathered that some former members of the PDP who left for the Labor Party (LP) before the last general election will also be formally received into the APC at the rally.
Among the LP members are the former senator representing the southern senatorial district of the state, Bassey Edet Otu; former Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), Deputy National President, Dr. Sandy Onor; former LP governorship candidate in 2015, Dr. Fidelis Ugbo, and his running mate, Nela Andem Ewa-Rabana (SAN).
It was further gathered from insiders in the APC that those saddled with the responsibility of strengthening and increasing the tempo of the activities of the party in the state have contacted former Finance Minister, Chief Tony Ani, to join the APC, but that it appears he would prefer to remain an elder statesman and provide the necessary guidance for the PDP to rebuild the state.
Commenting on the planned reception of the defectors, a top member of the APC who did not want his name in print, said: “Consultations are ongoing with the leadership of the APC at the national level and eminent politicians in the state to join the APC so as to boost its fortunes of the state.
“That initial razzmatazz immediately after its formation disappeared before the last general elections. The party finally went into a coma after the general elections when nearly all members relocated to Abuja in search of appointments thereby leaving the PDP government at large in the state,” the source said.
The party leader said what happened in Bayelsa State last weekend when top members of the PDP decamped to the APC “would be a child’s play” compared to what would happen to the PDP in Cross River State.
When contacted for his comments on the development, the state Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr. Mens Ikpeme, said the party was aware of the planned defection of some PDP members and many of their supporters to the main opposition party in the state.
Responding on enquiries on development, Ikpeme said: “It is not new. That is an old story. We are waiting for them. We were hinted about something like that by the state Chairman Mr. Usani Usani.”
When CrossRiverWatch contacted the former Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma Egba SAN about the development he simply said, “I just want to say that you are aware that the PDP in Cross River State ejected me and when you are ejected from one place, you must land elsewhere. That is what I will say for now.”
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