By Ayo Kehinde
Senate minority leader, Godswill Akpabio met vacationing President Muhammadu Buhari in London Sunday, four days before he crosses over to the All Progressives Congress.
Issues discussed were not disclosed.
Akpabio had met Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja on Thursday and also national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in Lagos.
Akpabio’s decision to leave the PDP has dampened PDP celebration over the defection of a dozen senators, three governors and some 30 members of the House of Representatives, who hitherto were members of the All Progressives Congress.
He is scheduled to switch to the APC in Ikot Ekpene on 9 August.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP has described as “shameful and total despicable”, attempts by the ruling party to “use all means at its disposal to woo its members.”
According to Kola Ologbodiyan, National Publicity Secretary, “The PDP describes the move as a failed antic of an apprehended and deflated felon who, in his immoral proclivity, attempts futilely to pull off one last survival stunt before facing the gallows, or more so, a mortally wounded snake furtively seeking for one last bite before its inevitable painful death.
He said: “The PDP has nothing but pity for the APC, who, in its blind desperation, cannot see that the train has since left the station and that nobody, no matter the lure, abandons a cruising liner, which the PDP now represents, to jump into a sinking ship with a disoriented captain which the APC has become.
“Indeed, no one, no matter the enticement, runs into a collapsing building from where terrified, wounded and traumatized people are already taking flight for their dear lives.
“Nigerians can now see the shameless hypocrisy of the APC, which is now going about, cap in hand, to beg the same persons it haunted as corrupt and evil, seeing that it has been overrun by the tides.
“Having failed to cow such persons through threats, media trials, trumped-up corruption charges and raw violence, the APC is now seeking to ensnare them with promises of political opportunities it no longer has control over”
Senator Akpabio with President Buhari In London. Pix NAN
Akpabio was governor of oil-rich Akwa Ibom state from 2007-2015. He was elected a Senator in 2015 and was chosen as the minority leader for the Peoples Democratic Party senators.
APC Newspaper on its Twitter handle announced Saturday night the news that Akpabio was switching allegiance : “We can confirm that, HE, Sen (Dr) Godswill Akpabio is a card carrying member of @OfficialAPCNg effective August 4, 2018. @OfficialPDPNig has lost him. Official Reception in days”.
And APC United Kingdom in another tweet set the date for the defection:
“Acting President, @Prof Osinbajo accompanied by Senator (Dr ) Ita Enang, and leaders of the APC in Akwa Ibom to formally receive Senator (Dr.) Godswill Akpabio into APC at Ikot Ekpene Stadium on Thursday 9 August, 2018. All lovers of Democracy are cordially invited”.
The Minister of Information, Lai Mohammad and his Transportation counterpart Rotimi Amaechi have welcome the development.
Mohammed speaking on Akpabio’s reported defection from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the All Progressives Congress, APC, told NAN in Lagos that the former governor is welcomed to the ruling party.
He said, “I welcome it (defection of Akpabio) because all politics is local. All those who have left us did that for purely personal reasons.
“Since they say politics is a game of number, of course we welcome gladly the defection of the Minority leader like they say it is one-one goalless draw.”
On whether Akpabio was being positioned for the position of the Senate President, Mohammed said, “that I don’t know.
“Since the day Saraki lobbied the opposition party to become the Senate President, the relationship between the executive and legislature had been turbulent.
As to the reason for his defection, speculations range from the real to the absurd. Some say he is been threaten with an EFCC wager, given his corruption profile. Other say his public quarrels with Governor Udom Emmanule of his home state Akwa Ibom has made him a ready catch for the ruling APC which has been eying one of the rich since the 2015 polls
All in all, it is part of the gale of defections that has been taking place as the two strongest party prepare for the 2019 polls. The All Progressives Congress (APC) has been hit by mass defections in the past few weeks.
Recently, thee Governors of Benue, Samuel Ortom, Sokoto, AminuTambuwal and Kwara, Abdulfathai Ahmed, over 50 lawmakers in the National Assembly including the Senate President Dr. Abubakar Saraki have defected to the PDP.
Also, 13 Local Government chairmen in Benue, 18 Sokoto House of Assembly members, all the Kwara state Local Government chairmen and moved to the PDP. With additional reports from NAN