•Matawalle to defect to APC tomorrow
Chuks Okocha in Abuja and David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka
The National Working Committee (NWC) of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has summoned an emergency meeting today to discuss the planned defection of the Zamfara State Governor, Hon. Bello Matawalle, to the All Progressives Congress (APC) tomorrow.
In an announcement yesterday by the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Ibrahim Dosara, the state government invited the governor’s supporters to witness the defection.
The statement further said the Kano State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje, and other APC stalwarts would receive the Zamfara State governor into APC.
The Director-General of Media in the state, Mr. Idris Yusuf, had earlier yesterday told THISDAY that the governor would address journalists on the issue tomorrow.
But the PDP said yesterday that Matawalle had not informed it that he was defecting to the APC.
National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, told THISDAY: “All I can tell you is that an emergency meeting of the party will take place on Monday and the report of the defection will be discussed.
“Also for now, the governor has not informed the PDP that he is leaving the party.”
However, concerns have been raised that it would be legally impossible for Matawalle to defect.
The reason is that the Supreme Court’s decision, which ceded the Zamfara State governorship to the PDP immediately after the 2019 elections, did not consider any individual in arriving at the decision but the party.
The judgment of the Supreme Court is believed to have made the opposition party the owner and sole beneficiary of the governorship and not Matawalle.
Already, arrangements are said to have been perfected for the governor to defect to the APC tomorrow, and he is expected to be received by the ruling party’s National Caretaker Committee Chairman and Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni.
Also, as a prelude to the defection, Matawalle had on May 31, sacked his cabinet, including the commissioners, special advisers, the Secretary to the State Government, chief of staff and the deputy chief of staff in other to be able to accommodate some members of the APC in the new calculations.
THISDAY gathered that the cabinet sacking was to prevent some commissioners from refusing to defect with him and avoid the kind of backslash experienced in Ebonyi and Cross River States, where some commissioners and aides refused to go to the APC with their former principals.
The governor, it was learnt, has been promised a return ticket for 2023. He is currently serving his first term in office.
In 2019, the APC won all the state and national elections in Zamfara State, the PDP came second but due to the Supreme Court judgment, the PDP inherited the victory across the board.
The state was considered an APC state and it was, therefore, to ensure his re-election in 2023 that Matawalle was being poached to defect to the APC.
Another party source also hinted: “There is no free ticket for him in the APC by 2023, as the former governor of the state, Mr. Abdulaziz Yari, and Senator Kabir Marafa have reconciled and will surely give him a fight.”
The source said it was not certain if all PDP senators and members of the House of Representatives that benefited from the Supreme Court’s judgment would be willing to defect with him.
The source said: “If the governor defects what will happen to the governorship ambition of Senator Marafa? Will he subdue his ambition that caused his initial political feud with former governor Yari or will he go back to the Senate? If he decides to go to the Senate, what will happen to the current senator that is from the PDP?”
Yari, Zamfara’s immediate past governor, is plotting to become the national chairman of the APC, and has been at daggers-drawn with Matawalle, who became an unexpected beneficiary of the APC crisis in the 2019 primaries in the state.
A PDP source said the party was in possession of an intelligence report that the Zamfara governor had gone as far as seeking the opinions of some top judicial officers who had told him that leaving the PDP could cost him the seat, based on the Supreme Court’s judgment of 2019.
Anambra Congress Complied with INEC’s Rules, Says Secondus
Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, yesterday said the party complied with the directives of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the conduct of the governorship congress that elected Mr. Valentine Ozigbo as the party’s candidate for the November 6 governorship election.
Secondus told THISDAY that when the party received the letter from INEC directing for compliance, a meeting of the National Working Committee was summoned and it was agreed that the congress election for the election of the governorship candidate should be based on the party’s constitution.
He said: “There are two courts of concurrent jurisdiction issuing different orders, so under the circumstances, we have to remove the list of the three-man ad-hoc delegates that is being complained of.
“The NWC also went a step further to dissolve the state executive committee with powers derived from the constitution and in the process directed the South-east zonal executive to liaise with the Governor Samuel Ortom committee to organise the congress with the automatic delegates.
“The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, issued a statement to that effect. So, we are on the safe side of the law.”
Meanwhile, leaders of PDP in Anambra State have congratulated the winner of the party’s Saturday primary election in Anambra State, Ozigbo.
The PDP leaders included a former governor of the state, Mr. Peter Obi; Dr. Ifedi Okwenna, who was one of the governorship aspirants; and the party’s governorship candidate in 2017, Mr. Oseloka Obaze.