The major opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on Wednesday said the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) was blackmailing eminent Nigerians into joining its party in order to give the impression that it is popular and the party to beat in the 2023 general elections.
Kola Ologbondiyan, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, exclusively told Daily Independent that having failed to fulfill its electoral promises to Nigerians, the ruling party, jittery of losing the 2023 presidential election, has resorted to poaching governors and other eminent Nigerians in PDP through blackmail.
Despite the discontent against the ruling party, there has been influx of serving and former political office holders from the PDP into the party, the latest being Governor Ben Ayade of Cross Rivers State.
Other PDP bigwigs who have decamped from the PDP to APC in recent times are Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State; Gbenga Daniel, former Ogun State governor; Yakubu Dogara, former Speaker of the House of Representatives; Senator Elisha Abbo; Senator Hamma Misau and businessman, Jimoh Ibrahim.
There are also indications that Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State has also perfected move to dump the PDP for the APC on June 12.
Daily Independent had earlier reported how a Board of Trustees (BoT) member of the party, who does not want his name in print, had said having done their investigation on the reasons for the defections, they realised that three major factors were responsible for the action of the defectors.
The first, according to him, is current political office holders who are afraid of being victimised by EFCC after leaving office, the second set were former political office holders who want their cases with the anti-graft agency dropped and the third were those who still want to remain politically relevant after the 2023 elections.
He said many of the defectors always blame internal crisis in the PDP for their actions but it has been discovered that while it is true that the PDP is not what it should be, it wasn’t really the cause for their jumping ship.
“The situation is worrisome and we have been doing our investigation on what could be responsible for some of our people to be leaving for APC, especially at a time there is a growing discontent by Nigerians and their wish that PDP should return.
“What we find out is that some cabals in APC are going about recruiting our men. The APC cabal going round to recruit PDP governors and senators are Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, Governor Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa, Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe and they had Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice as their resort".
“They always make our members believe that the APC will still work its way to power in 2023 and it is better you join them now so you won’t be rigged out. However, if you stay out and remain in PDP, the results will be written against you.
“Also, for those who have ongoing corruption cases and those in office who have been indicted one way or the other, they use Malami to promise protection from EFCC. That is what they promised to Cross Rivers State governor, Ben Ayade".
“That did not come to us as a surprise, because Adams Oshiomhole, their former national chairman publicly said their sins will be forgiven the moment they joined APC”, he said.
Corroborating his claim, Ologbondiyan said, “The 2023 elections is coming and APC has no material to campaign with. They have failed in every ramifications of governance and they know Nigerians can’t wait to kick them out of power.
“So, what they have left is to play the mind game and also blackmail some eminent Nigerians into joining their party. So, at the end of the day, they will say ‘don’t mind the people that are saying we are not popular. If we are not popular, why are the PDP governors joining us?’
“That is the game APC is playing now, game of blackmail and deceit. But it does not translate because the former governor of Bauchi State, Mohammed Abubakar, was a sitting governor in APC when he was defeated by the PDP”.
Ologbondiyan, who said APC is already perfecting its rigging plans ahead of 2023, however, said Nigerians who are already fed up with the maladministration of the ruling party will heavily resist them at the polls.
“As it stands, there is nothing APC can showcase as achievements in 2023. So, they are already perfecting their process of rigging the election. But we are confident that millions of Nigerians who have suffered a lot through their misgovernance and are yearning for the return of the PDP will resist them in the 2023 elections”.
Also speaking, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, a former Minister of Transport and PDP chieftain, said those leaving the party for the APC are doing so because of their vested interests.
He said, “The governors defecting from PDP to APC are not clear-headed and they don’t love the masses. Apart from that, they believe that the APC is going to rule forever, that is why they decided to join. I am so sorry for them because they are making a great mistake.
“In any case, the party must not give our ticket to anyone who is not seriously committed to the cause of the Nigerian people. So, those who are leaving PDP are doing so because of their vested interests”.