It was a shock wave down the spines of the All Progressives Congress (APC) faithfuls in Rivers State on Sunday as Governor Rotimi Amaechi’s deputy, Tele Ikuru, dumped the party, returning to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Ikuru, who was deputy to former Governor, Sir Celestine Omehia, was inherited by Amaechi, after he was sworn in on the order of the Supreme Court in October 26, 2007.
There were indications that Ikuru would likely be received officially by President Goodluck Jonathan, at a PDP stakeholders’ meeting in Port Harcourt today.
In a statement on Sunday evening, Ikuru said his December 2013 defection to the APC was “out of extreme loyalty to my boss and friend (along) with other then disillusioned Rivers people.”
Since then, he said the true colour of the APC has been unveiled, while he “continued to twist and turn in extreme mental and emotional agony,” even as he struggled to belong to with the Rivers man in him rejecting the nation’s main opposition.
According to Ikuru, “after carefully studying, interacting and analysing the leadership of the party, I have come to the sad conclusion that the APC is a party of rebels, insurgents and anarchists, clothed in robes of pretence and deceit. APC is a party founded on deception and it thrives on unholy propaganda and falsehood.”
He announced his resignation from the APC along with his supporters, stressing that the people of Rivers State “of this generation will not in good conscience expect forgiveness and compassion from our forebears, posterity, and the spirit of our unborn generations if it is recorded in the annals of history that after 48 Years of Rivers people supporting leaders from all other parts of this country with our votes and resources, we were the same that witch hunted and hounded down the very first ever President from this region, granted us by providence.”
“I wash my hands off this treachery,” he added, urging his supporters to vote President Goodluck Jonathan and former education minister, Nyesom Wike, as governor.
Reacting to the defection, the Rivers State Governor, Rotimi, Amaechi, expressed shock at the news, even as he said it remains unofficial yet, since he was yet to be officially notified by Ikuru.
While wishing Ikuru “all the best in his future political endeavours,” however noted that the reasons adduced for the resignation were untenable, since he “has consistently been the one driving political activities inhis local government area of Andoni. He has also been the second in command driving politics and governance in Rivers State.”
The statement signed by Mrs. Ibim Seminitari, the state’s Commissioner of Information and Communications, said the governor has accorded his deputy “all the privileges and respect due the office of the Deputy Governor and has treated him with love as a friend and brother.
“Though the Governor had hoped that the numerous rumours of Engr Ikuru’s double-faced membership of the APC and open romance with the PDP were not true, he however appreciates the fact that every individual has a right to pursue his political dreams, as he deems most appropriate.”
The statement regretted that “Ikuru has chosen the dishonourable path of bare faced lies and name calling rather than the more honourable path of simply retracing his steps to where he has always been.”
It was gathered that Amaechi had called Ikuru on Saturday to ascertain the location of the deputy governor, who was said to be in his hometown in Andoni Local Government Area of the state.
A source who pleaded anonymity said Ikuru travelled to his country home to finalise his movement from the APC to the PDP, even as the latter is said to be rattled over the development.
On what could have been responsible for the defection of the deputy governor, the Government House source said: “My brother, I don’t know. What I know is that he (Ikuru) had no problem with the Governor (Amaechi).”
The source added that the political influence of Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, could not be ruled out as the major reason why Ikuru left the APC.
“For now, I can confirm to you that the deputy governor has moved to the Peoples Democratic Party and that President Goodluck Jonathan will receive him tomorrow (today). The deputy governor was in Andoni to conclude his plan to move to the PDP.
“You are aware that Uche Secondus is the political mentor of the deputy governor and he (Secondus) is responsible for the most of the political appointments Ikuru had received in the past, including his current position,” the source said.
“When the governor called him on Saturday, he (Ikuru) told Governor Amaechi that he would see him when he returns. But he came back to Port Harcourt on the same day and failed to see the governor.
Meanwhile, in another twist, two founding fathers of the PDP and members its Board of Trustees (BoT), former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah and Don Etiebet, a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, declared support for the candidate of the main opposition APC, Umana Okon Umana.
?The duo who attended a rally organised by Umana’s campaign organisation at the Ibibio Park in Uyo, the state capital said they were not interested in any political party but on individual aspirants.
Attah said: “Today, we support Obong Umana Okon Umana because of a number of those other compelling determinants critical among which were that we shall collectively make a succession plan and that the collective will of all of us, and only our collective will shall prevail in this matter.
“We therefore pleaded for a level playing field to allow the people to truly make their choice, because we had also made a vow that we will vehemently resist any form of imposition. But we were completely ignored.
“So zoning will be restored, but right now we have a critical problem to solve which requires to be solved outside of zoning.
“Now to the second point that I want to address, some of you may know that I am one of the 82 signatories that signed the charter to establish the PDP in 1998. So, I am a founding father and remain a life member of the Board of Trustees of that party. But here I am campaigning on the platform of the APC.
“To explain myself, let me quote our President, His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GCFR) at a campaign rally in Akure in Ondo State on Wednesday, January 28, 2015, he said quite profoundly, and I quote: ‘Politics is all about people, and I cannot be a leader if I fail to do what my people want.’ I do not need to add anything to that. I am a leader of my people. My people do not want anyone imposed on them as governor; they want Umana Okon Umana and that is why I am here.
“Let me further remind us that Udom Emmanuel was not nominated by PDP in this state. We used to think that it was the governor that had brought him to cover his tracks, but at a campaign rally, the cat was let out of the bag.
“The governor told us that it was his wife, the so called “mother Theresa of Akwa Ibom” (sic) that discovered and sponsored Udom Emmanuel, and he, the imperial majesty, is determined to impose him on us as successor to the throne,” he added.
Commenting on the development, a public affairs analyst, Ifiok Anderson, dismissed the move as another futile journey to nowhere, recalling that earlier in 2011, Obong Attah similarly raised the hands of the then governorship candidate of the opposition, ACN, now defunct, Senator Akpan Udoedehe. That, he said, did not change the fortunes of the latter, as he was roundly defeated by the incumbent, Governor Akpabio in the 2011 Governorship polls.
He argued that, Attah had allowed his morbid hatred for his successor to blind him, even into joining forces with his erstwhile, Commissioner for Finance, Obong Umana Okon Umana, who betrayed him.