The plot for the defection of top government officials in Ebonyi State to the All Progressives Congress (APC) thickened yesterday with the state House of Assembly giving a seven-day ultimatum to the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to zone the presidency to the South-east zone in 2023.
The ultimatum has strengthened the speculation that the Governor, Chief Dave Umahi, is planning to lead executive council members and the state lawmakers, elected on PDP platform, to join the APC.
Umahi, who is rumoured to be nursing higher political ambition in 2023, had reportedly perfected plans to cross over to the nation’s ruling party.
At a press conference in Abakaliki, the state capital, the Speaker of the Assembly, Hon. Francis Nwifuru, warned that the PDP would pay heavily if the party fails to adhere to the request.
Twenty two out of the 24 members of the state House of Assembly were present while two lawmakers were absent.
The lawmakers also warned the PDP not to contemplate removing the National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus.
Nwifuru said: “We are giving our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), seven days’ ultimatum to summon the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party and zone the position of the presidency to the South-east, Nigeria, especially as INEC has officially announced the date of the presidential election.
He said: “Equally, the party should not contemplate to remove the National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, as it is customary that the zone (South) from where the National Chairman comes from produces the presidential candidate of the party. If this advice is not adhered to, it will further divide and destabilise the party along sectional and regional lines.
“Failure to adhere to these kind requests will cost our party heavily and we, the honourable members of the sixth Ebonyi State House of Assembly will leave no stone unturned in taking decisive actions to ensure that traditions and dividends of democracy are respected in our party.”
The lawmakers noted that since the rebirth of democracy in 1999, the South-east zone has paid its dues having worked assiduously and massively voted for all the presidential candidates of PDP from other zones in the country, stressing that in the spirit of democracy, equity, justice and fairness, the presidency, come 2023, be zoned to the South-east.
However, the speaker denied rumour of the planned defection of the state lawmakers to the APC.