Minister of Labour and Employment and one of the founding members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in South East, Senator Chris Ngige, weekend, explained that some of the chieftains of the party in the zone did not attend the defection rally of Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State because they were not invited.
Recall that many prominent members of the APC from South East were reportedly absent at the defection rally by Governor Umahi, who had last week dumped his former party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the ruling APC.
The Ebonyi State Governor had served as the State Chairman of PDP for many years and later became Deputy Governor from 2007 to 2015 before emerging as the governor in 2015 and was also re-elected in 2019 on the same party platform.
He accused his former party of not being fair to South East by not zoning the 2023 presidential ticket to the zone which is believed to be the stronghold of PDP since 1998.
It was argued that out of the three geopolitical zones in the South, South West through former President Olusegun Obasanjo had occupied the highest political position of the land for eight years, the South-South through former President Goodluck Jonathan also was at the helm of affairs of the country for about six years, remaining only the South East.
Umahi said for equity, fairness and justice, the PDP should zone its presidential ticket for 2023 to South East even as it has been rumored that the APC was considering the zone for its presidential slot.
However, at the defection rally in Abakeliki, the Ebonyi state capital, most APC stalwarts from the zone were conspicuously absent thereby fueling the speculation that there is a crack within the party’s family in the zone.
Asked why South East APC leaders were absent at the rally, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Ngige said, “We didn’t attend because we were not invited, the answer is simple and shot.”
Also asked whose responsibility it was to invite them, he said, “It is a party thing, either the governor who is coming into our party will invite us or the Caretaker Committee leadership will invite us, neither of them invited us.”
Reminded of the alleged crack in APC family in South East because of the insinuation that the Caretaker Committee plans to consider Umahi for the party’s presidential ticket, hence the absence of the leaders, Ngige denied of knowledge of any crack within the APC family in the zone.
He said, “Is there any crack in a family that somebody maybe is eating food and didn’t invite you to dinner, it is a rally, it has nothing to do with the welcome reception by the Caretaker.
“Maybe they felt most of us were busy. I am busy with ASUU (Academic Staff Union of Universities) problem as you know and labour issues, maybe that was why they didn’t invite me. Even if they invited me, exigencies of duties wouldn’t have allowed me to go. So, there is no crack.”
Asked whether Governor Umahi did not meet with the party leaders in the zone before his defection, the Minister replied, “That is the question you should ask the governor not me.”
It was reported that neither the Senate Whip, Orji Uzor-Kalu, who is the highest APC political office holder from the zone, nor the former Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, who was a foundation member of the party, Senator Ngige and the Ministers from the zone attended the defection rally.