The All Progressives Congress (APC) has concluded plans for a mega rally in Calabar in Cross River State to receive new members believed to have the capacity to turn around the fortunes of the party in the Peoples Democratic Party-controlled state.
The big names likely to be formally received into the APC from Cross River State are former Governor Clement Ebri, former Governor Donald Duke, former Senate leader, Senator Victor Ndoma Egba; and Labour Party governorship candidate and his running mate in the last general election, Fidelis Ugbo and Nela Andem Ewa Raban.
Others are former career Ambassador, Maurice Ekpang, Chief Sam Bassey, Chief Etum Eteng, an activist lawyer; High Chief Emmanuel Nsan, a former minister under Buhari’s military regime; Hon. Paul Adah, former National Assembly member and immediate past NDDC commissioner in the state, and Dr. Sandy Onor, former Commissioner for Environment and Labour Party senatorial candidate.
Also in the list are two former chief of staff in the state, two former deputy speakers and some state Assembly members along with some former members of the state executive of the PDP in the state and Chief Godwin J. D. Agba, a former governorship aspirant.
The rally which is billed to hold anytime between now and the first week of September 2015 is a product of a series of consultations at the national level of APC on how to factor Cross River State into the mainstream of the polity, it was learnt.
The State APC Publicity Secretary, Mens Ikpeme, confirmed the plans which he admitted was being handled at the party’s national level.
“We were hinted about it by the state chairman, Chief Usani Usani,» he stated.
Our reporter reliably gathered that a planned zonal meeting of the APC South South zone is slated for first week of September and to be hosted by the APC zonal Vice-chairman, Hon. Hilliard Ettah, who is from Cross River.
It was also gathered that the meeting might snowball into a mega rally that would have the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo supporting the National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, to receive the new members.
Again, it was gathered that the APC’s national leadership was determined to work and take over Cross River State from PDP by 2019, beginning with the repositioning of the party to make a significant showing at the state and local government elections next year.
The APC has neither national nor state assembly members in Cross River State and the PDP still holds sway at the local government level in the state.
The state executive leaders of the party have been accused severally of allowing the party to remain comatose after the general elections.
It was gathered that the recent move is set to make the party become a formidable opposition in the state.
In another development, the PDP in Bayelsa State has shrugged off the mass defections from the party to the APC at the weekend, saying the defectors were driven by greed and self-aggrandizement.
Among those who dumped the PDP for the APC at a mega rally at the Samson Siasia Sports Complex, Yenagoa, on Saturday, were the state chairman of PDP, Samuel Inokoba; former Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Timi Alaibe; former NDDC chairman, Tarilah Tebepah; Senators Heineken Lokpobiri and John Brambaifa; former acting governors and speakers of the state House of Assembly, Werinipre Seibarugu and Nestor Binabo; former House of Representatives member, Stella Dorgu and Alex Ekiotenne.
They moved over to the APC with over 2,000 staunch members and followers and were welcomed by APC National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, and leader of the party and former Governor of the state, Tmipre Sylva.
But the PDP in a statement by the state acting chairman, Serena Dokubo-Spiff, described the defectors as “a huge disappointment and embarrassment to the party and the Ijaw nation”.
Dokubo-Spiff said they were jumping the ship after they had benefitted immensely from the party that brought them from obscurity to political limelight.
He said the defectors were “yesterday’s men and women” who no longer had electoral value and as such the PDP would not miss them.
He noted that the defectors were also those politicians who sponsored candidates against the PDP in the last state House of Assembly elections and worked with the opposition to betray former President Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP at the last presidential elections.
Dokubo-Spiff said that the defectors were not dependable politicians and should not be celebrated by the APC as political assets, stressing that “they were never at anytime with us”.
“Suffice to say that no member of the PDP in the state or any of the party’s organ was part of this charade called a mega rally. The PDP in Bayelsa State is intact.
“All the structures and organs of the party at all levels are fully intact. Our great party is not perturbed in anyway.
“The so-called defectors were never with us because they are the same people who betrayed PDP at the presidential election and also sponsored candidates against our party in the House of Assembly election. These are spent forces and we are not moved by APC’s charade.
“For instance, the former PDP chairman, retired Col. Sam Inokoba, who was one of the defectors, has since been suspended by our party on acts bothering on corruption and anti-party.
“Is that the kind of character the APC is celebrating and welcoming into its fold? It’s a shame, indeed!” he stated.
The PDP chairman stressed that the people of Bayelsa know their antecedents as they would not have any possible effect on the December 5 governorship election.