By Emmanuel UgwuÂ in Umuahia
After three years of factional struggles for supremacy the Abia state chapter of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has finally split with the leader of one of the factions, Ochiagha Regan Ufomba, moving into the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with his supporters.
APGA split into two factions in 2014 in the run-up to the 2015 general election following a hotly disputed governorship primary in which Mr. Alex Otti and Ufomba emerged as governorship candidates from parallel party primaries, each claiming authenticity.
Ufombaâ€™s legal challenge of the Ottiâ€™s candidacy was finally resolved at the apex court in favour of the former bank boss after the governorship poll in which both campaigned on APGA platform though INEC recognised Otti as the flag bearer.
At a welcome back rally held at the Amapu Ntigha mini stadium in Isiala Ngwa North local government, Ufomba declared that he was done with APGA and returned to PDP with thousands of his supporters. They included Ufombaâ€™s running mate in the parallel governorship ticket, Mrs. Christiana Duruoha, all the factional state and local government executives as well as the executives in the 184 wards of the state.
Ufombaâ€™s return to PDP was witnessed by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, state PDP chairman, Chief Johnson Onuigbo and his executives, former APGA factional national chairman, Chief Maxi Okwu, PDP members of the state legislature and other top party members.
Â â€œIâ€™m so glad to be back to PDP,â€ he said, adding, â€œAll of us are coming back to make Abia betterâ€.
Ufomba who was the governorship candidate of APGA in 2011 has always insisted that he controlled the â€œoriginal and authentic structureâ€ of APGA in Abia State. He brought to the event stacks of long note books which he said were the party registers in all the 184 wards, adding that with his departure and his supporters and 250 affiliate groups nothing was left of APGA in Abia state.
â€œWhen we say we are APGA and APGA is us we are not joking. If there is any other APGA in Abia State, it is fake, (because) Iâ€™m the grandfather of APGA in Abia State.â€
Ufomba who left PDP eight years ago for APGA citing â€œinjustice in the partyâ€ said that his decision to return to the former ruling was to ensure the realisation of Governor Okezie Ikpeazuâ€™s second term bid and also to help PDP retake power at the federal level.
Ikpeazu was excited as he embraced Ufomba and welcomed him back to PDP saying that the former APGA chieftain had taken the right decision because every Abia politician that loves Godâ€™s own state should start thinking of what to do to help the state grow.
The governor said that he would not be a hard sell in 2019 as he would give his supporters enough projects with which they would use to campaign for his second term bid, adding that he would not use the prolonged legal battle for his governorship seat as excuse to underperform.
He said that he was very happy to welcome Ufomba and his supporters back to PDP, noting that their ideas would go a long way in helping the party to achieve success as nobody has monopoly of knowledge.
The Abia governor, who is also the leader of PDP in the state said that the party must be all inclusive and therefore charged party leaders at ward and state levels to allow everybody to express themselves and work for the party.
Earlier the state chairman of PDP, Chief Johnson Onuigbo said that Ufomba was hitherto â€œon transferâ€ to APGA but had now come back to where he originally belonged and the door had remained open for him and his supporters. He assured that there would be no discrimination against al returnees from ward to state level because â€œfrom today you are all PDP membersâ€.
The chairman of Isiala Ngwa North local government, Chief Ginger Onwusibe in his address descried Ufomba as â€œa very big fish which had come to swim in the ocean of PDPâ€ and indeed â€œcoming back to the house he builtâ€.