From Okey Sampson, Umuahia

Never in the history of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abia State has the party been faced with such demeaning downturn.


Prior to the 2023 general elections in the country, Abia was synonymous with the PDP as the party governed the state for 24 unbroken years. Within the period, the party so firmly held its grip on the state to the point that her members at different fora boasted that even if PDP fielded a goat in an election in the state, it would win. For them, nothing would ever happen to the contrary.

Like a drunken sailor, Abia PDP approached the 2023 general elections with such ‘nothing will happen’ deportment, Jettisoning the wise counsel of elders of the party including the Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of PDP and former President of the Senate, Dr. Adolph Wabara, the leadership of PDP in Abia balkanized its zoning policy which resulted in an awful and humiliating defeat the party is yet to come out of.

A party that has almost always won all contestable positions in Abia in the past 24 years, was so trounced in the last election that it lost the governorship seat, all the Senate and seven, out of the eight House of Representatives seats. It was an embarrassing humiliation, so to say. However, the party had a compensatory edge over other parties in the House of Assembly polls.

Notwithstanding the poor outing, the PDP remains the main opposition party in the state.

But the PDP in Abia, having been so heavily inflicted with defeat, is now walking on a tight rope as its hitherto playmakers are now looking the way of other political parties for political relevance. Many former stakeholders of the party are now defecting to other parties especially the APC in their droves.

The avalanche of defections began six months after the 2023 general elections when some PDP members in Ukwa West moved to the APC.

Prominent among the defectors numbering over 100 were Emmanuel Nwankwo (Ogwe Ward), Chikezie Nwaobia (Asa North), and Eze Esinwa, (Asa South).

Other notable leaders from the wards were Chief Onyebuchi Ogidi (Ipu East Ward), Ogbonnaya Ikechukwu (Asa South), Nwachinemere Okechukwu (Obokwe), and Anyam C. Anyams (Ogwe Ward). The defectors were said to have been drawn from five out of the 10 wards of the council.

Following closely in December last year was the defection of a Chieftain and financier of the PDP in the state, Chris Odinaka Igwe.

Igwe, the elder brother of the immediate past deputy governor of the state was reported to have defected to APC after meeting with the senator representing Abia North in the upper legislative chamber, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu. He did not leave PDP alone as he left with other notable members of the party.

The state’s leadership of the party described the exit of Chief Igwe as a mere storm in a tea cup, but what appeared a tsunami, hit the state PDP sometime in February this year.

It was a time the gamut of aides of the immediate past governor of the state, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, left the PDP to join APC.

Leading the pack was former Chief of Staff (CoS) to Ikpeazu, Anthony Agbazuere. Others who dumped the PDP for APC with him include a former Information and Strategy Commissioner, Eze Chikamnayo, and former NDDC Commissioner, Chief Chimezie Okoronkwo.

Equally on the train of the defectors were Chief Eze Nwanganga, former Commissioner for Public Utilities, Chief Uzo Ihuka, former ASOPADEC Commissioner, Chief Sam Nwogu, former Environment Commissioner, and former Chairman of ASOPADEC.

Equally on the defectors list include Godwin Nna, an Obingwa local government area PDP bigwig and some key members of the PDP from the 17 local government and three senatorial districts of the state.

Their defection from the PDP fuelled speculation in some quarters that former Governor Ikpeazu may be leaving the party on which crest he became the Governor of Abia State any time soon.

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The defectors were received into APC by the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha and the National Welfare Secretary of the party, Chief Donatus Nwankpa.

Their defection from the PDP to the APC was said to have been announced during a stakeholders meeting convened at the instance of the minister in her country home, Isuochi, Abia State.

Reacting on the development, the National Welfare Secretary of the APC, Hon. Nwankpa said the coming of the PDP members into the APC showed that Abians have started realizing and embracing APC as the alternative party that they have to drive not only their political ambitions, but create the necessary change that the state and its citizens yearn for.

Nwamkpa assured the defectors would bring value and followership to APC in the state.

However, the PDP as it has always reacted in moments like this, described the defectors as Mayfair politicians who had not contributed to the development of the party in whatever capacity and would therefore not be missed.

A statement by Abraham Amah, Abia PDP vice chairman who also doubles as acting Publicity Secretary, said PDP accepted the defections with an open mind in the understanding that they were entitled to their freedom of association.

“The Abia PDP truly appreciates the exit of these people, because after the 2023 general elections, the party did a post-mortem on itself and came to the inevitable conclusion that the party needs to reinvent itself for the future.

“The only way for that to happen would be for the party to shed weight not by expelling some people, but for those responsible for its brief downturn to exit by themselves.

“That is exactly what has happened and the Abia PDP truly appreciates their exit after they recognized that they were no longer useful to the party in whatsoever form.

“While we wish them well in their future endeavours, we also tell our members, numerous sympathisers and well wishers that the Abia PDP has been receiving many applications from highly placed and well meaning Abians, who are desirous of joining the party.

“What should be a source of concern to Abians is why these people are leaving the PDP, rather than join the ruling party in Abia, which is the Labour Party (LP). They are joining the APC, the ruling party at the centre. That alone speaks about the character of the people who defected”, the PDP noted.

On his own, the former governor of the state, Dr. Ikpeazu debunked rumours making the rounds he would be dumping the party that brought him fame.

In a meeting with the leadership of the party in Umuahia recently, Ikpeazu vowed not to leave PDP, contending that the fact some of his aides left for the APC, does not guarantee his automatic move to the ruling party at the centre.

A former Commissioner in the state, Chief Charles Ogbonnaya equally picked holes with the defectors, describing them

as “political viruses without electoral value.”

Chief Ogbonnaya who was also the Abia State Coordinator of the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in 2023, was quoted in a report as not being surprised that the affected persons would leave the PDP in search of “greener pastures”

He said: “All the viruses I made mention of in PDP have gone over to APC. APC must be very careful because they are unreliable. They will go there to pollute APC. None of them has political value. PDP lost nothing by losing them”.

There are rumours that other bigwigs of the PDP are on their way to the ruling national party.

Very much in the rumour mill is the planned defection of all the members of the PDP in the state House of Assembly to the ruling Labour Party (LP). Since none of the PDP members in the House has denied the rumour, it is gaining ground and if the volcano erupts, PDP in Abia will be in for bigger trouble.