By Jide Orintunsin, Abuja and Chris Njoku, Owerri
Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma on Monday said more Southeast governors in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will soon join the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He said talks were ongoing, and that the defection of Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi to the ruling party is a done deal.
According to the governor, Umahi’s impending move was a result of concerted efforts by APC leaders to make an in-road into the Southeast geopolitical zone.
Uzodimma spoke after meeting with the Chairman of the APC Caretaker/ Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee, Governor Mai Mala Buni, at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja.
He said: “If you recall when I addressed you here a couple of months ago, I told you that the moment I resume office in Imo State as the governor, that the impression and the perception of our party in the Southeast will change and the effect will be that more credible individuals and governors will join the party.
“Today, I am being vindicated because we are hearing it and I’m sure in a few hours from now, we will get a confirmation that one of our best will be joining the party: the governor of Ebonyi State.
“Of course, I will be very glad and it will be my joy to welcome a governor and more governors, not only him. We are still talking to more governors to join.
“APC is the ruling party and for the interest of national integration and cohesion, Imo and Southeast indeed, need to become part and parcel of the ruling party to make the Nigerian project complete.”
The governor said he met with APC caretaker committee “to touch base with our preparedness for the upcoming bye-election”.
“Of course, you know any moment from now, there will be a senatorial bye-election in the Imo North Senatorial District.
“I think our party is prepared. APC is the party to beat in Imo State,” Uzodimma said.
Also yesterday, the Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC) urged Umahi not to do anything that will jeopardise the chances of the Igbo to produce the next President.
Its National President, Comrade Igboayaka O. Igboayaka, said OYC was not against the governor joining the APC, but he should not play the role of a spoiler.
He said: “Ndigbo can’t put their eggs in one basket. We welcome Umahi’s threat to leave PDP, if they don’t cede the presidential ticket to the Southeast.
“Denying Ndigbo APC and PDP presidential ticket is the easiest way to quicken Nigeria’s break up.
“Nigeria will not exceed 2023, if any attempt is made to deny Ndigbo 2023 presidency. Igbo presidency is a narrow solution to Nigeria peace and unity.”
President General, Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL), Goodluck Ibem said Nigeria’s democracy is fragile, and that the only viable way to make it strong is for other regions to support the Igbo 2023.
He said: “Any Igbo man who dares to accept a running mate to any candidate from the North will be banished and declared persona non grata.”
Ibem said it would be disappointing if the rumour that the PDP plans to zone the 2023 presidential ticket to the North is true, considering how much support the Southeast had given the party over the years.
“So, we are in support of any move that will better the chances of the people of Southeast to get the office of the President come 2023.
“Umahi has the support of Ndigbo provided he does not renege by accepting the Vice President slot, which is unacceptable to Ndigbo,” Ibem said.