Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State on Tuesday said he had no regrets defecting from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the All Progressives Congress, APC, saying that the PDP had failed the people of the Southeast.
According to a report by The Nation, the governor spoke with reporters in Abakaliki, the state capital, on the controversial defection to the ruling party at the centre.
He clarified that his defection was not premised on any deal with the APC on the contentious subject matter of presidential zoning to the region in 2023.
Justifying his defection, Mr Umahi said: “I want to clear the air that I never sought for the PDP presidential ticket and I will not. So, whoever said that I moved to the APC because they refused to zone the ticket to me is being very mischievous.
“Even if PDP promises somebody presidential ticket, how does it work when over 8,000 delegates will be voting. And such a promise cannot happen with more than 10 or 20 people. So, people are being very mischievous about that.
“There are a lot of qualified persons from the Southeast. Some people say I was promised lots of things by the APC. There was no such discussion. APC never promised me any position. They never promised Southeast any position.
“However, I offered this movement as a protest to injustice being done to the Southeast by the PDP. Since 1999, the Southeast have supported the PDP. At a time, the five states were all PDP. One of the founding members of the PDP was from Southeast, the late former Vice President Dr Alex Ekwueme.
“It is absurd that since 1999, going to 2023, the Southeast will never be considered to run for the presidency under the PDP. And this is my position and it will continue to be my position. It had nothing to do with me or my ambition.”
Mr Umahi said he would continue to agitate for the interest of the Southeast in and out of office.
He said he has decided to become the sacrificial lamb that would be crucified for the interest of the zone.
The governor rejected the notion that he was driven by selfish reasons, maintaining that he was protesting the non-zoning of the presidential slot to the Southeast.
He said the PDP is yet to give reasons why the Southeast is unfit for the Presidency.
Mr Umahi said the region is at liberty to agitate for the presidential slot, stressing that the crusade is legitimate.
However, he said despite his defection to the APC, he would not castigate the PDP, which has refused to toe the path of equity and fairness.
The governor who emphasised that he had not declared interest in the presidency said he may even quit politics in 2023.
He said his involvement in 2023 would be limited to building support for a presidential candidate of Southeast origin.
On the reaction by the PDP that it was not yet time to consider zoning, the governor said the party was being economical with the truth.
Mr Umahi stressed: “In 2015, PDP had zoned the next presidential slot to the North against 2019.
“Then, the executive statement in Bauchi that the presidential slot is open to all parts of the country and the overtures and scheming to remove most members of the National Working Committee, these are some of the indications that the party has no intention of zoning it to the Southeast”
“The point is very simple. In 2023, I would have been in PDP between 23 and 24 years and Southeast never really supported APC the way they are supporting PDP and in that 2023, they would have been eight years in office. But, it would have been about 23 years going.
“I believe strongly that the will of God will come to play. But, I believe that APC is amenable to working with Southeast from all indication.
“It is amenable and I also believe that until justice and equity is implanted in this Nigeria, it is difficult for Nigeria to make progress.”