Realignment, defections as APC, PDP battle for 29 states

• ‘Vote APC all the way’, Buhari charges supporters
• ‘We’re targeting Lagos, Rivers, Imo, 21 other states’-Muazu

The All Progressives Congress (APC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and other parties are back in the trenches for Saturday’s governorship/house of assembly elections, seeking news friends across political and cultural divide for a maximum impact at the polls.

The PDP which was routed in the March 28 Presidential/National Assembly elections by the APC says it is targeting 24 states, including Lagos, Rivers and Imo, all of which are currently controlled by the APC.

President-elect Muham-madu Buhari warned APC supporters against complacency on Saturday and asked them to turn out in large numbers and vote candidates of the party all the way.

Leaders of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Labour Party (LP), and Accord Party all of which fared badly in the last elections are struggling to convince their supporters to come out on Saturday to vote.

Reports from many parts of the country yesterday indicated that following the last elections leading lights of the PDP in particular have been reaching out to the APC for the purpose of defection before Saturday.

Members of the PDP in the Southsouth, especially Delta and Rivers State are said to be planning mass defection to the APC in the days ahead.

Key PDP members in Delta North and Central senatorial districts are keen on switching camps, sources said yesterday.

A former chairman of the PDP in Warri, Chief Ayiri Emami fuelled speculation when he was sighted with APC governorship candidate, Olorogun O’tega Emerhor at the wedding reception for the daughter of Chief Tunde Smooth, an Ijaw leader yesterday.

Emami hinted that he had pitched his tent with the APC.

He said the PDP candidacy in the state was dead on arrival having been built on blackmail by an individual playing ethnic sentiments.

He said:”I am doing what is best for the Itsekiri people because under the arrangement we have no stake; the deputy was imposed by a single individual and it is not in our peoples interest. If the Itsekiri can suffer the kind of ill treatment meted on us in the recent primaries it means there is no hope for us in the party.

“I am urging my Ijaw brothers to abandon this PDP ship because it is sinking in Delta state due to the overbearing attitude of one man. Their interest in the PDP is not protected instead it is the interest of one individual who sees his family and personality as greater than the others.”

It was also gathered that negotiation is ongoing in the state for the Urhobos to  back Olorogun O’tega Emerhor,the APC governorship candidate.

Emerhor confirmed the ongoing discussion .

The situation is the same in  Rivers state where Governor Chibuike Amaechi is said to be  working on PDP members who are still aggrieved  by the outcome of the November governorship primaries.

“There is an ongoing discussion with some PDP members to that effect but it is best to keep the matter under wraps until the details of the deal are ironed out,” a source close to the governor said.

The embattled National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Adamu Mu’azu, charged members of the party nationwide to deliver at least 24 states to the party on Saturday.

Mu’azu  in a statement  said  the PDP must win the governorship elections in Lagos, Rivers and Imo.He described the party’s candidates in those states as ‘first class materials.’

The PDP currently controls 21 states : Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu, Adamawa, Taraba, Bauchi, Gombe, Benue, Plateau, Niger ,Kogi,Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Kaduna, Ekiti and Ondo.

Mr. Mu’azu, asked PDP members to put the last elections behind them and focus on the coming ones.

“I urge the PDP faithful to pick up the pieces and ensure that we return quickly to our old winning ways. There should be no room for voter apathy that was a major factor to our losing the presidential election,” Mu’azu said adding:”While our opponents were savouring their famous victory, we should out flank them and corner at least two thirds of the states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“This is not an impossible target if we return to our elements with immediate effect. We have done it before and we can do it again. Nothing will be sweeter than PDP taking Lagos, our own Rivers State and Imo. Our candidates in these states are first class material who have fully penetrated the political structures of those states and are set to win.”

The chairman said the party’s target is to retain the 21 states it currently leads “and then sink our teeth into the heart of our political opponents and show that their presidential victory is nothing more than a one-off that won’t be repeated in a long while.”

He stated, “The key to winning the remaining election is heavy turnout and voting the PDP all the way. There should be no tactical voting. Be consistent in your support for the party. What we experienced in the presidential election is merely a hiccup which we must cast out in the gubernatorial polls.

It was gathered that the PDP is keen on working with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Ogun State for the purpose of the governorship/state assembly elections.

The PDP governorship candidate in the state, Mr. Gboyega Isiaka, during the week met with the SDP leader in the state Chief Olusegun Osoba on working out an arrangement.

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