Governor Okezie Ikpeazu may be the next Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) governor to defect to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Daily Independent has gathered.
Credible sources said talks between Ikpeazu and the APC had reached an advanced stage while some of his foot soldiers are already in the party as a prelude to his defection.
Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, Senate Chief Whip and former governor of the state, earlier hinted that Ikpeazu had promised to join the APC like Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi.
Shortly after Umahi’s defection, Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, had also predicted that more PDP governors would join the APC.
“Umahi is with us, others are coming. Other governors are already knocking. They are on their way. We will be unveiling them one after the other,” Bello had said.
Last month, two former commissioners in Ikpeazu’s cabinet, Obinna Oriaku, former Finance Commissioner, and George Nnanna Kalu, his counterpart in the Works and Transport Ministry, dumped the PDP for the APC where they were received by Kalu.
While serving as Commissioner for Finance under Ikpeazu, Oriaku was investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged financial misappropriation.
While the Abia State chapter of the PDP had denied the report that the governor has plans to defect, an associate of the governor who spoke in confidence with our correspondent on Sunday said that while Ikpeazu still remained a staunch member of the PDP, he was “under intense pressure to join the APC owing to his desire to attract federal presence to Abia State”.
According to him, the governor has been facing serious criticisms from the people over the massive underdevelopment in the state, especially on the dilapidated condition of roads, which has crippled commercial activities in the state.
“Following Umahi’s defection to the APC, I can confirm that serious pressure is being mounted on Governor Ikpeazu by major stakeholders in the APC to join.
“He has remained resolute and has remained in the PDP. However, I won’t be surprised if he joins if doing so will better the lives of Abians, especially in terms of infrastructures and economic development.”
However, another source, a former House of Representatives member in the state who is a member of the PDP, claimed that the governor may be under pressure to join the APC owing to issues he has with the EFCC.
“It is not a surprise to me if he joins. Umahi of Ebonyi also denied but eventually what happened?
“The reality is that joining APC is political suicide in the South-East. All the second term governors flocking to the APC is for self-preservation.
“They are trying to avoid being tried by the EFCC. For Governor Ikpeazu, I wish him good luck if he joins them,” he said.
Addressing newsmen recently, the governor lamented that there was a conspiracy against the state, adding that all his efforts to carry out developmental works were being frustrated by the Federal Government.
“Aba/Port-Harcourt Road is a 34-kilometre road. Why should it take 30 years to do it?” he had asked, adding, “I wanted to fix some of these roads but they told me if I don’t get papers, they won’t refund me, but I cannot wait.”
When contacted, Kola Ologbondiyan, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, said the party was united and that none of the governors were joining the APC.
“Our party is intact and united. None of our governors are joining the APC.
“There is no iota of truth in the rumour that Governor Ikpeazu is on his way to the APC. He remains a committed member of our party,” he said.