The minority leader in the Senate, former governor Godswill Akpabio, might defect to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) any time soon. There are indications that he is in serious talks with the APC and might dump his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), once the “terms” are wrapped up, The Nation reports. This move is said to have unsettled the PDP as analysts believe it will be a major boost for President Muhammadu Buhari in the south-south ahead of the 2019 election.
A PDP top notch disclosed that the party has been appealing to the ex-governor not to defect “but we cannot please him and then displease the governor of the state, Udom Emmanuel, who is the PDP leader in the state.” The duo have been at loggerheads. Emmanuel was practically made governor by Akpabio in 2015.
Report has it that Akpabio had made up his mind to defect on July 24 but was not allowed to have his way by Senate president Bukola Saraki who got intelligence report about his plan. The former governor showed signs of his departure from the PDP on Thursday, August 2, when he boycotted the special meeting of the National Executive Committee of the PDP held to welcome defectors including Saraki and governors Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (Sokoto) and Samuel Ortom of Benue state, among others.
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A top APC source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “The APC and some of our leaders are in serious talks with Akpabio, who is rated as a matchmaker in the south-south. “The talks border on more deals for the south-south, especially increase in derivation formula; enhanced infrastructure for oil producing areas; how to sustain the ongoing reforms by President Muhammadu Buhari; and arresting the developmental slide in Akwa Ibom state. “The former governor said his likely defection to APC is informed more by patriotism than selfish interest.”
According to the source, the terms are still being worked out and it was part of the talks that made him visit Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday when the PDP national EXCO was meeting in Abuja. Findings, however, confirmed that top PDP leaders, including the National Working Committee of the opposition party, have been jittery in the past few weeks. A member of the National Executive Committee of PDP said: “I think Akpabio has irreconcilable differences with Governor Udom Emmanuel and our leaders stepped into the matter and initiated reconciliation.
“If at the end he is defecting, we are suspecting that he wants to join the APC to settle scores with Emmanuel in 2019. The two leaders have been managing themselves, but Akpabio seems unhappy with the governor. We felt that defection is not an ideal option for Akpabio. Maybe he has another agenda.” A member of the NWC said the power equation in PDP at present in Akwa Ibom state does not favour Akpabio and he is bound to be embittered.