A source has revealed why Senator Godswill Akpabio wants to leave the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Akpabio held a meeting with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa on Thursday, August 2, 2018, fuelling speculations of his possible defection.
One of the reasons given in the media for his reported defection plan, is the reported fall out between him and his protégée and Governor of Akwa-Ibom state, Emmanuel Udom.
Akpabio allegedly being blackmailed
According to a source who spoke to Punch,Akpabio wants to leave the PDP because he is being blackmailed.
The source said that the former Governor has been asked to deliver Akwa-Ibom state to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) or face the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“What is happening is that the APC has threatened to deal with him, using the EFCC and he doesn’t want that at all.
“Although, we are all pleading with him not to leave the party (PDP), but he is afraid. He doesn’t want to be in EFCC’s net at all. He is really under pressure but we hope that he would listen to us,” the source said.
PDP sources react
According to The Nation, some PDP sources think that defection is not the right way for Akpabio to go.
A member of the PDP source who spoke about the defection report 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.”
Another source told The Nation that “By the policy of our party, Governor Emmanuel cannot be denied the right of first refusal for the PDP gubernatorial ticket in 2019. We cannot abandon him to please Akpabio.
“You can see that as soon as Governor Samuel Ortom defected, he was automatically made the leader of PDP in Benue State.
“Some of our leaders have been comparing notes and there is this suspicion that Akpabio might defect because of multiple cases he has with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“The sad aspect is that the Senate Minority Leader does not share his position with anyone.
“At one of our meetings during the week, we all noticed that Akpabio was not vibrant and articulate in his speech. He spoke like a despondent leader who is fed up with PDP.
“Our fears were confirmed when he boycotted the NEC meeting on Thursday. He said he was travelling abroad, only for us to see him at the Villa with VP Osinbajo.
“Earlier, we learnt that he had wanted to defect to APC on the floor of the Senate on July 24, but the President of the Senate, Dr. Saraki, who got intelligence report, did not allow him to have his way.”
APC ready to welcome Akpabio
Meanwhile, an APC source has said that some top party chieftains are in talks with Senator Akpabio to work out conditions of his defection.
“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,” the source added.
According to the source, “The terms are still being worked out, but APC is favourably disposed to Akpabio’s defection.
“The ex-governor has an open mind, he has no airs and he does not pretend in asking for a better nation which he thinks Buhari can offer.
“In fact, 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.
“We will no doubt accept him into APC. This is a major development from the South-South.”
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has been hit by mass defections in the past few weeks.
Currently, 3 Governors, over 50 lawmakers in the National Assembly including the Senate President , Bukola Saraki have defected to the PDP.
Also, 13 Local Government chairmen in Benue, 18 Sokoto House of Assembly members, all the Kwara state Local Government chairmen and 23 House of Assembly members in the state moved to the PDP.