The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu Wednesday denied reports that he was planning to dump the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The denial contained in Ekweremadu’s Facebook page has however raised more questions beyond the dumping of the party the Deputy Senate President intended to address.
His denial is predicated on reports that he has remained unhappy that the presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, overlooked him in the choice of a running mate for the 2019 presidential election.
According to sources, the Deputy Senate President and Atiku had long had an understanding of how his running mate would emerge.
Sources close to the negotiations that took place before the national convention of the PDP where Atiku emerged as presidential candidate, said Atiku offered Ekweremadu the vice presidential ticket if he wins but he kept telling him they should secure the ticket first.
Other sources also said the Deputy Senate President was given the right of first refusal for the vice presidential ticket.
The offers, knowledgeable sources say made Ekweremadu rally governors of South East states and delegates from the zone to vote for Atiku at the national convention.
Also, Ekweremadu and the governors were said to have shunned all the overtures from Rivers State Governor, Nyesome Dike to support Aminu Tambuwal, the governor of Sokoto State and another presidential aspirant on the platform of the PDP because of the understandings and agreement they already had with Atiku.
Everything seemed okay until Atiku Abubakar chose a former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi as his running mate.
The choice of Obi, though considered a right choice by many across the country, led to discordant tunes among the rank and file of the opposition PDP in the South East.
A meeting of leaders of the party in the geopolitical zone, including governors, signalled that all was not well, as they denounced the announcement of Obi, also from the zone, claiming they were not carried along or consulted.
While some of the governors, who had originally kicked, like the Ebonyi State governor, David Umahi, who was the most vocal of the lot, have succumbed to overtures from Obi and others who intervened, Ekweremadu’s displeasure has seemingly festered.
The deafening silence of the Deputy Senate President since the announcement of the choice of Peter Obi as running mate and the way different statements condemning Peter Obi’s choice, with reference to the alleged shabby treatment meted out to him by different groups, have no doubt proven that he has more than a passing displeasure in the whole process.
It would be recalled that on Tuesday in Abeokuta, a northern group, Northern Youth Leaders Forum, made reference to the displeasure of Ekweremadu, saying the choice of Obi may drive the lawmaker to dump PDP for the ruling APC with trending rumours that he has perfected plans to jump ship.
This protest by the forum was viewed as suspicious and diversionary by many party faithfuls, and indeed many Nigerians, raising raising posers as to the intent, and sponsors behind the group.
Their motive was further suspicious given that they threw up several names, but again slanted their narrative in the direction of Ekweremadu, whom they felt got far less that’s he deserves in the current arrangement.
For discerning watchers of the unfolding political drama, it is obvious Ekweremadu is unhappy he was not picked as vice presidential candidate, and he, or his supporters, have covertly tried to highlight this in hopes that there may be a change of plan, or at least, an arrangement that would recognize and favour him.
Over the last few days, after the name of Obi was announced, there have been narratives in many quarters, especially the media space, no doubt hatchet jobs, of how Ekweremadu, ‘a loyal and diligent party stalwart’ was shortchanged, after standing with the party during its trying periods, giving room for argument, that if Ekweremadu decides to dump the party, he would be justified.
Though the Deputy Senate President has said he ‘still in PDP’ and that his ‘political path is in the hands of God’, many commentators are not convinced for different reasons.
One, Ekweremadu, who has been in the Senate for the past 15 years, failed to make a categorical statement on his future political status but merely said he is still in PDP.
In other words, he is still there but things can change. The Deputy Senate President failed to categorically say he does not have any intention to dump the party. Knowing the transient and liquid nature of politicians, anything is possible.
Secondly, Ekweremadu’s reference to God as holding his political path is seen as another gimmick often employed by Nigerian politicians to adopt spiritual alibi in carrying out the sinister motives.
As an adult and an experienced politician, the Deputy Senate President should have been brave and mature enough to make a categorical statement on the controversy surrounding his alleged defection without handing under any cover of divinity.
Many regard his reaction as a veiled call for negotiation, or platitude if the opposition party wants him to remain in their ranks.
Nigerians are also quick to remember the strenuous denials made by the former Minority Leader of the Senate, Obong Godswill Akpabio when his impending defection from PDP to APC was first reported. He later did!
Also, one fact that is not lost on Nigerians in Ekweremadu’s denial is the fact that the APC Federal Government is currently on his neck, probing several foreign properties allegedly acquired by him. These properties, the government believes were acquired outside his legitimate earnings.
This, coupled with feelings that Atiku treated him wrongly, may as well just be enough combined motivation to jump ship. But even as the onus lays with the Deputy Senate President to convincingly assure his current party and supporters that he is indeed not jumping ship, time will tell whether or not, the choice of Obi will mark his exit from PDP, or he’ll accept it as another lost battle, and move on with the party.
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