The Peoples Democratic Party said it was not aware that the Senate Minority Leader, Chief Godswill Akpabio, was going to London where he met with President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday.
Rather, it said the former governor of Akwa Ibom State told members of the party’s National Working Committee that he was on his way to Germany.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, who stated this in Abuja on Monday, said the party was not aware of Akpabio’s planned defection to the ruling All Progressives Congress.
He said the minority leader of the Senate could have had what he called “technical stopover” in London.
Ologbondiyan said, “He told us he was going to Germany and if he ended up in London, maybe, he had a technical stopover.
“The PDP has no issues with Akpabio whatsoever and the party will not respond to speculations of his readiness to defect. We have no notice of the said defection and all I can say now is that we will cross the bridge when we get there.”
Investigations by one of our correspondents showed that the rumour of Akpabio’s planned defection had been rife within the national leadership of the PDP, including the governors.
It was gathered that one of the governors, name withheld, from the southern part of the country had openly accused Akpabio of hobnobbing with the ruling party at the residence of the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, recently.
The event was said to have happened when the leaders of the party visited Ekweremadu as a result of a siege laid to his house by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission recently.
The governor, according to a top-ranking member of the PDP, openly confronted Akpabio and demanded explanations why he had allegedly been meeting secretly with leaders of the APC.
The source said, “We were all surprised with the governor from the southern part of the country, who accused him (Akpabio) of playing a double game. He asked why Akpabio had refused to speak out for the party of recent and why he had been absent at party’s events.
“We all knew that Akpabio was actually meeting with APC leaders at night, and laughing with us during the day. But we didn’t know how to handle it.
“Akpabio, however, refused to speak to the governor. Rather, he was just smiling, even though he seemed not to be enjoying the talk.
“The DSP (Ekweremadu) tried to calm the said governor down, but you know he is very outspoken. He said it without fear or favour, that he knew that he was saying.”
It was also gathered that the National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, had tried to dissuade Akpabio from joining the APC.
Secondus, it was gathered, met with the former governor on many occasions, assuring him of the love of the party for him and that he (Akpabio) remained a ranking member of the party.
A source privy to the meeting said, “Secondus had met with him on many occasions when the rumour started filtering in.
“Though the former governor complained about the treatment he was said to be getting from his successor, Udom Emmanuel, he was asked to tarry, that the PDP would intervene.”
It was also learnt that the Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, was also involved in the negotiation with Akpabio.
“Wike spoke with him on many occasions as well. He asked him to shelve the idea and cooperate with him and others to reposition the PDP to win the elections. Unfortunately, he seems not to have been persuaded by all the talks.”
Meanwhile, some members of the party in Akwa Ibom State said that Akpabio’s defection into the APC might not be unconnected with the case he had with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
A source, who did not want to be named, told one of our correspondents that apart from the EFCC issue, Akpabio also had issues with the state governor, especially on a single term.
They said Akpabio had made a deal with the governor that he would spend a single term before the position would move to another area in the state.
According to them, the agreement spelt out a single term for the governor, adding that the second term was supposed to go for someone from the Oron ethnic nationality.
The sources noted that in order for Akpabio to settle some scores with Emmanuel, he had to leave the PDP with his supporters to stop the governor’s second term bid.
“His reason was also that the EFCC has been on his neck for a very long time. The other reason, which I think may not be so cogent, is allowing a person from Oron ethnic nationality to go for the second term instead of the present governor,” a source said.
A former Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Chief Essien Nduese, said Akpabio had not told him or any other persons why he was leaving the party for the APC.
He noted that the former governor had had cause to complain to people without solid reasons.