By Chidiebere Onyemaizu
The source has been informed of how the All Progressives Congress, APC and a cabal around President Muhammadu Buhari dangled irresistible offers before the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpbabio to ditch the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. However, while Ekweremadu out rightly rejected the offers, Akpabio, with eyes on a higher political realm, asked for time to think.
Rattled by the defections of 14 of its Senators and 34 House of Reps members to the PDP, the APC national leadership and trusted loyalists of President Buhari had met few days after and decided that everything, including bare-faced intimidation must be used to break PDP’s ranks in the South east and South south so as mitigate APC and Buhari’s unpopularity in the two zones.
It was also reasoned that poaching at least two PDP Senators, who are not only influential in the two zones but principal officers of the Senate, would go a long way to counter balance effects of Senator Rabiu Kwamkwaso and other’s defection on the North and APC.
Consequently, Ekweremadu and Akpabio immediately came into the picture. Without the other knowing what was playing out, individually, the two Principal Officers of the Senate were offered the Senate Presidency and the Vice presidential slot if they decamped to the APC with their governors and members of their states’ Houses of Assembly.
Both men were also offered the APC vice presidential slot and told of plans to topple Senate President, Bukola Saraki by the remnant of APC Senators with the active support of security agencies.
For Ekweremadu, they apologized to him for the marginalization the South east has suffered in the APC government saying the party was now ready to make amends by making him Senate President preparatory to picking him as President running mate for next year’s presidential election. According to them, Vice Presidency Osinbajo has indicated he would not return next year hence the decision to zone the position to the South east.
Akpabio was also promised the Vice presidential slot after a short spell as Senate President. He was told that his geo-political zone, the South south, being the backbone of Nigeria’s economy deserved to be at the commanding height of the Nigerian politics, hence his choice for the plum positions.
While Ekweremadu turned down the offers outrightly, Akpabio asked to be give time to think and weigh options open to him. Still hopeful that Ekweremadu will eventually blink, the decision to arm twist him by unleashing the EFCC on him was made. The result was his invitation and interrogation by the anti-graft agency over his alleged ownership of 22 houses in Nigeria and abroad.
Meanwhile, while Akpabio, who is the immediate past governor of Akwa Ibom state, was still debating with himself whether or not to accept the offers, documents detailing his alleged illegal acquisitions and corrupt enrichment of himself was waved at him. He was thus given two options which he must pick within one week: Defect to the APC with your governor and be free from EFCC or remain in the PDP and get set to rot in jail in addition to losing your wealth. Fearful of his freedom and political future, Akpabio, this Magazine was told, elected to defect but he made it clear it would be difficult to do so with his estranged godson, governor Emmanuel Udom who has since parted ways with him.
To compensate for Udom’s recalcitrance, Akpabio gave his words that his other loyalists in the Udom government, including the Deputy Governor, Speaker of the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly, Commissioners among others will defect with him.
Meanwhile, the PDP national leadership is reportedly reaching out to the former Akwa Ibom governor. The party has made it clear to him that APC will neither make him Senate President nor Buhari’s running mate as both positions are not vacant.For his alleged corruption case, the PDP has told Akpabio that will be more honourable to fight in the court than to sheepishly submit to APC’s blatant blackmail like a slave.