The defection of Ebonyi State governor, David Umahi to the All Progressives Congress (APC) has renewed Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State’s quest to join the ruling party, sources around the governor have said.
Through a statement by his Special Adviser, Public Enlightenment, Media and Communications, Zailani Bappa, the governor at the weekend, hailed the defection of Umahi to APC.
“If this trend of generating bad blood amongst us continues unabated, our great party will increasingly be on the receiving end as we move towards the year 2023,” he said.
Matawalle, who was defeated at the governorship election, became the governor following the Supreme Court judgement on the litigation filed by governorship aspirants of the APC over controversies surrounding the party’s primaries.
The Zamfara governor, who is of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has been romancing with chieftains of the APC in the state, especially Senator Ahmed Sani Yarima and Senator Kabiru Garba Marafa.
Some months ago, the governor’s allegedplan to join APC was announced by Senator Yarima, a former governor of the state in an exclusive with Daily Trust.
Yarima had said arrangements had almost been completed for the governor to join APC.
“Yes. We are working and we are talking. I think we have gone very far. Very soon, yes,” Yarima said on Matawalle’s move to join APC.
Until his statement, Matawalle’s move to join APC was not an issue that generated discussions in the state. However, It has now become the topic of discussion in the state.
A source said the governor was wary of losing his seat should he join APC.
“If you remember the Supreme Court judgment said the party with the second-highest votes should be sworn in. So, there is a serious threat to his seat. Early this year, when he started making moves to join APC, leaders of the PDP assembled lawyers to review the judgment that brought him to power,” he said.
He said the crises rocking the APC in the state and at the national level were another factor delaying the defection of Matawalle to APC.
“It is not a game of principle, it is a game of winning and nothing more. There is general disquiet in the polity and nobody is sure of where the pendulum will swing. Everybody is in a state of confusion. I will not be surprised if he joins, if he is sure of picking the APC ticket in 2023. Already, there are 12 contenders for the ticket,” he said.
Meanwhile, an official of the Zamfara State government told Daily Trust that the governor had not formally communicated to them.
“The issue of the defection was strong until the APC was engulfed in crisis at the national level when Oshiomhole was removed. So, the issue went aground until his recent statement on Umahi’s defection.
“We are waiting for direction on this. I think he is just waiting for the appropriate time to join APC,” he said.
He said when the issue of the defection was at its peak, the leadership of the PDP moved in to stop it.
The official said: “It was after several meetings that they succeeded in prevailing on him to have a rethink and that was why the defection was put on hold at the time.”