A crack has appeared in the All Progressives Congress in Rivers State as Deputy Governor Tele Ikuru on Sunday announced his defection to the Peoples Democratic Party.
Ikuru, who has worked with Governor Rotimi Amaechi for about eight years, may be received by President Goodluck Jonathan at a PDP stakeholders’ meeting in Port Harcourt on Monday(today).
The deputy governor, in a statement on Sunday, described the APC as a party of “rebels, insurgents and anarchists clothed in the robes of pretence and deceit.”
Ikuru said in the statement titled, “A call on the conscience of the people of Rivers State, that since he joined the APC with other disillusioned people of the state, he had been in emotional agony.
He added that the more he struggled to belong to the APC, the more the Rivers man in him rejected the party.
The statement read in part, “Recalled that in December 2013, out of extreme loyalty to my boss and friend, I joined the APC, along with other disillusioned Rivers people. Ever since, as the true nature and motive of the APC are unveiled, I have continued to twist and turn in extreme mental and emotional agony.
“The more I struggle to belong, the more the Rivers man in me rejects APC. After carefully studying, interacting and analysing the leadership of the party, I have come to the sad conclusion that the APC is a party of rebels, insurgents and anarchists, clothed in the robes of pretence and deceit.
“APC is a party founded on deception and it thrives on unholy propaganda and falsehood.
‘‘I, therefore, on behalf of my teeming supporters and my humble self, denounce APC and we all jointly and severally (sic)resign our membership of APC.”
He called on the people of Rivers State to vote for President Goodluck Jonathan on Saturday and the PDP governorship candidate, Nyesom Wike, on April 11.
The deputy governor advised that the people of the state should not be seen to be working against Jonathan,who like them, is a son of the Niger Delta.
Ikuru added, “My dear people of Rivers State, we of this generation will not in good conscience expect forgiveness and compassion from our forebears, posterity and the spirit of our unborn generations if it is recorded in the annals of history that, after 48 years of Rivers people supporting leaders from all parts of this country with our votes and resources, we were the same that hounded down the very first ever President from this region, granted us by providence. I wash my hands off this treachery.”
Ikuru was said to have been in a battle of supremacy with the state APC Chairman, Davies Ikanya, who is from the same Andoni Local Government Area with him.
Before his statement, there were speculations in the state that the deputy governor whose official residence in Port Harcourt witnessed increased security presence on Sunday evening, had dumped the APC.
The PUNCH gathered that Amaechi had on Saturday called Ikuru on the telephone but was told by him (Ikuru) that he had travelled to his hometown in Andoni LGA.
Ikuru, according to a top government source, was in Andoni to conclude arrangement for his movement to the PDP.
When asked what was responsible for Ikuru’s sudden departure from the APC, the source said Amaechi had no problem with him.
He claimed that an influential National Working Committee member of the PDP might have influenced the deputy governor’s action.
He said, “I can confirm to you that the deputy governor has moved to the PDP and that President Goodluck Jonathan will receive him tomorrow (today). The deputy governor was in Andoni to conclude his plan to move to the PDP.
“When the governor called him on Saturday, he (Ikuru) told him that he would see him when he returns. But he came back to Port Harcourt on the same day, but failed to see the governor.
“The governor has no problem with his deputy. But I suspected that the political influence of a PDP NWC member may have being responsible for the deputy governor’s defection.
“You are aware that the NWC member is the political mentor of the deputy governor and he is responsible for most of the political appointments Ikuru had received in the past, including his current position.”
It will be recalled that since Ikuru attended the APC rally in Eleme LGA last year with a bunch of tree branches in place of a broom which is the logo of the APC, he has been absent in most of the ruling party’s campaigns.
Rivers State Commissioner for Information, Ibim Semenitari, said that even though Ikuru had as of 6pm on Sunday yet to formally notify Amaechi of his defection, he(governor) “wishes him all the best in his future political endeavours.”
She however said in a statement that the governor was shocked by the reasons adduced by the deputy governor for his decision to dump the APC.
Semenitari said, “Governor Amaechi has only this(Sunday) evening received the news of the resignation of his Deputy Governor, Tele Ikuru, from the APC.
Whilst the news remains unofficial at this time as the Deputy Governor is yet to notify the governor of this move, Governor Amaechi however wishes Engr. Ikuru all the best in his future political endeavours.
“He however wishes to note that the reasons adduced by Engr. Ikuru are shocking as deputy governor lkuru has consistently been the one driving political activities in his local government area of Andoni and has been the second in command driving politics and governance in Rivers state.
“On a personal note, Governor Amaechi has accorded Engr. Ikuru all the privileges and respect due the office of the deputy governor and has treated him with love as a friend and brother.
“Though the governor had hoped that the numerous rumours of Engr. Ikuru’s double-faced membership of the APC and open romance with the PDP were not true, he however appreciates the fact that every individual has a right to pursue his political dreams, as he deems most appropriate.
“It is however regrettable that Engr. Ikuru has chosen the dishonourable path of bare-faced lies retracing his steps to and name calling rather than the more honourable path of simply retracing his steps to where he has always been.”
Also, Ikanya, who described Ikuru as a mole in the APC, said he was not surprised by his defection.
He said, “Ikuru is the deputy governor of Rivers State, but from inception, we never believed that he was in the APC. After Amaechi declared for APC with other governors, it took quite a while before Ikuru could identify with the APC.
“There is no effect at all. Such an unstable character in politics cannot have supporters. Ikuru is first cousin of the Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus and there is no way Ikuru can confront Secondus at the polls,” he added.
Ikuru is extremely disloyal –APC
The APC National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, described the deputy governor as extremely disloyal and ungrateful.
Mohammed, in a telephone interview with The PUNCH, in Abuja, said Ikuru’s defection on Sunday was not the first time he was engaging in an act of betrayal.
He said, “When Amaechi recovered his mandate, he did not pay Ikuru back for the betraying him even when he learnt that Ikuru was already packing out of his office, Amaechi showed that magnanimity.
“In 2011 when Amaechi had the opportunity to drop him but he did not. So, today, because he was not given the party ticket, he decided to leave.
“He is a light weight. Why is it even a story when the deputy governor of Niger State joined us and several others joined us from the other party, we did not make an issue out of it. This is none issue.”
PDP hails defection
The PDP Campaign Organisation described Ikuru’s defection as a welcome development and urged other leaders of the APC to do the same.
The PDPPCO, through its Director of Media and Publicity, Femi Fani-Kayode, said in a statement in Abuja that the PDP was happy to receive Ikuru back into its family.
It said, “We are glad to hear about the return of the deputy governor of Rivers State, Ikuru, to the PDP family. This is a deeply courageous step and we welcome with open arms.
“We encourage other key leaders of the APC to abandon the ranks of the doomed and to join the PDP. We urge them to see the light and retrace their steps in the same way that the deputy governor of Rivers state has done.
“The defection of the deputy governor at this critical time represents a deep and grievous spiritual wound on the APC. They are falling apart at the seams and they are crumbling.”