By Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
Indications that the lingering factional crisis rocking the Peoplles Democratic Party (PDP) is far from being laid to rest emerged at the weekend when thousands of members of the party in Delta State loyal to the defunct Modu Sheriff faction defected.
At the ceremony to announce the defection, former Deputy Chairman of the party, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, vowed that they were dumping the PDP in a bid to halt Governor Ifeanyi Okowaâ€™s second term ambition.
He carpeted Okowa for the alleged scandalous frittering away of N20 billion Paris Club refund from the Federal Government, amid shouts of â€œPDP! Chase out Okowa!â€
Ojougboh, however, stressed that the over â€œ14,000 membersâ€ of the former Sheriffâ€™s faction in Delta State were leaving the PDP for good in protest against impunity in the party as well as the insincere manner the leadership of the party led by Ahmed Makarfi, especially governors, conducted itself following the famous Supreme Court judgement, which nullified Sheriffâ€™s national chairmanship of the PDP.
He specifically accused governors Ayo Fayose and Nyesom Wike of Ekiti and Rivers, respectively, of overbearing influence in the affairs of the party.
Instead of opening up space within the party structure and allowing proper negotiations to midwife effective reconciliation, the PDP leadership chose to treat members of the former Sheriff faction with disrespect.
Ojougboh noted that they were indeed treated as fugitives with the leadership offering them some sort of â€œamnesty as if they are criminals rather than bona fide members of the PDP since 1998.â€
He lamented the ignominious rejection of Prof. Jerry Gana and Raymond Dokpesi in the constitution of the national non-elective convention member and the Anambra State PDP governorship committees, respectively.
He also alleged ex-governor Peter Obi meddlesomeness in the PDP three-man committee to ensure credible Anambra governorship election.
Like eager professional football scouts, some APC leaders also besieged the Agbor venue of the event to woo the defectors to the APC fold.
They included members of the Jones Erue-led APC executive committee, the National Vice-Chairman (South-South), Prince Hilliard Eta, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, the partyâ€™s 2015 gubernatorial candidate, Chief Emerhor Oâ€™tega and party chieftain, Chief Hyacinth Eluha.
Nonetheless, the erstwhile factional state APC chairman, Chief Austin Ogbaburhon, warned the APC and other possible political suitors that the defecting members and their teeming supporters now constituted â€œa very beautiful brideâ€ that could not be â€œmarriedâ€ out cheaply or without proper â€œnegotiationsâ€.
The highpoint of the defection ceremony was the symbolic dumping of a large number of PDP membership cards into waste baskets.