The defection of former Director-General of All Progressives Congress (APC) Campaign Organisation in the 2019 general election, Dr. Chidi Lloyd, to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, has sent huge shockwaves through the fragmented party. Though defection from APC is not a unique phenomenon in Rivers State, that of Lloyd, considered as a hardliner and ally of the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, is a pointer to the smoldering resentment within the APC.
The inability of the national leadership of APC to end the internal squabbles that culminated in the exclusion of the troubled party in the 2019 general elections in Rivers State has left many party stalwarts psychologically battered and demoralised. With the fate of APC still hanging in the balance, the defection of Lloyd this week might be a prelude of a new emerging political pattern in the state ahead of 2023 politics.
With this big catch, one thing is obvious in the months ahead: Governor Nyesom Wike and the high command of the PDP would not relent in poaching prominent members of the opposition battling for political survival and relevance.
Speculation of Lloyd’s possible defection began to make the rounds when Governor Wike and leaders of PDP in Emohua Local Government Area visited him in his hometown, Akpabu. The governor’s visit caused a stir because prior to the 2019 governorship, the state’s attorney general had filed fresh attempted murder charges against Lloyd for slamming a fellow lawmaker, Michael Chindah, with the legislature’s mace during a foiled attempt to change the House leadership in July 2013 and pave the way for the impeachment of then-Governor Chibuike Amaechi.
Many within APC had erroneously regarded Lloyd’s reception of Governor Wike at his hometown as a mere political stunt, but not intended to swap loyalty from Amaechi. But Lloyd, who was the Majority Leader of Rivers State House of Assembly throughout the reign of Amaechi as governor, sent a shockwave through the APC and Rivers State political landscape when he visited Government House, Port Harcourt, on a Monday and, renounced his membership of APC.
Lloyd, who was accompanied into the Banquet Hall by Governor Wike and PDP chieftain in Emohua, Sergeant Awuse, expressed regret in his role in the crisis at the state’s House of Assembly on July 9, 2013 and apologised to his former colleague, Michael Chinda and declared that henceforth, he and members of his community would work for the PDP.
“My people have asked me to say to you that we will henceforth join hands with you in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP),” he said. “Your Excellency, I thank God today that all the dramatis personae that were involved in that shameful conduct are alive. None was buried. Your Excellency, on behalf of myself and my people, I tender an unreserved apology for whatever actions that may have been ascribed to me. I am truly sorry for the pain, which I may have caused my brother, Michael Okechukwu Chinda.”
Governor Wike said politicians who bear bitterness in their minds against others hardly make progress, and declared that his success in politics and governance have been because he carries no grudge against anybody. Wike, who is said to be engineering the process of readjustment and realignment of political forces in the state ahead of 2023, said at his second term inauguration, he had asked for forgiveness from those he offended and also promised to forgive those that hurt him like Lloyd.
According to Wike, “I love to attract people to our party because I am not a greedy politician. I believe that the more the merrier. I will do what is in the best interest of the people and the party. Politics of progress does not undermine the importance of friendship. I believe that we must forget yesterday, put ourselves together for a better tomorrow.”
Wike also assured that he would complete the Akpabu-Itu Road and the electrification of the communities. The governor also upgraded the traditional stool of Akpabu, Eze Godwin Ordu, who accompanied Lloyd during his defection, from third class to second class chief.
“When we go to Akpabu during electioneering campaigns, you cannot move from there to Omudioga community even though they are in the same ward due to bad road network,” Wike said. “I have promised to reconstruct the road and restore electricity. We will complete those projects within the life span of this tenure. Politics is about the dividends of democracy.”
It would be recalled that last February, another Amaechi’s ally, and former Commissioner of Education, Allwell Onyesoh, alongside hundreds of his supporters, defected to PDP.
While Governor Wike and PDP may not appear to be interested in drawing a fine line between Lloyd’s defection on grounds of conscience, ideology or for personal gain, the pro-Amaechi faction of the APC considers his defection as political skulduggery geared at personal aggrandizement.
The pro-Amaeachi APC spokesperson, Ogbonna Nwuke said Lloyd’s departure and political nomadism did not come as a surprise because for years they have been watching his dance step.
“It is regrettable that the Akpabu-born politician, whose activities have been less than desirable, has taken a decision to stray from light in order to embrace the darkness,” Nwuke said. “We have equally listened to his comments and we are amazed that his hunt for the “feeding bottle” that Wike controls could drive him to such a lowly height.
“For us, the former member of the House of Assembly, who apologised for the decisions and actions that he took without compulsion from any quarter, has shown his true colours. His apology to the master of the “belly kingdom revolution” raises serious questions about his credibility and integrity.”
Nwuke said that the exit of Lloyd would have no effect on the fortunes of APC in the state. According to him, APC in Rivers State was waxing stronger even as Ephraim Nwuzi, the Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora, who is currently representing Etche/Omuma Federal Constituency, has allegedly dumped PDP for APC.
“There is a world of difference between light and darkness,” Nwuke stated. “In Rivers State, the Rivers people are becoming increasingly wary of agents of darkness. They have decided to cut ties with political vampires who have no respect for the sanctity of human lives and decided to join forces with the All Progressives Congress.
“We can understand the frustration that the Wike administration is facing at this time. Because opinion within PDP is unfavourable towards Wike inside PDP. Wike has resorted to the antic of procuring “belliticians” from outside his own party to strengthen his dwindling power base. We will not be surprised to hear that these discredited persons who no longer enjoy the confidence of APC members in their wards and LGAs would be described as intimate friends of Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi.”
Nwuke said Governor Wike and his associates would like to create some relevance around some of the bad apples that they are able to attract by describing them as staunch Amaechi allies. He said some of these people, who claimed once to be friends of Amaechi, have since fallen by the wayside as a result of their undying greed for power and filthy lucre.
“In the case of Hon. Lloyd, party members from Emohua have remained adamant and insistent right from 2014 that they do not want him in their midst. For these grassroots politicians and members of our great party, Lloyd’s departure amounts to good riddance to bad rubbish.”
But Igo Aguma, who leads APC in Rivers State, rather than hurl charges against Lloyd for party-hopping, has regretted the exit the former statutory member of the State Executive Committee of the party and Director General of Tonye Cole’s 2019 governorship campaign council.
Meanwhile, Aguma has appealled to members of APC in the state, who are forming different groups and factions, to sheath their swords and come to a roundtable for the resolution of all burning deputations in order to move the party forward.
“Party faithful in the state are enjoined to remain calm and resolute as we are working assiduously to ensure peace and reconciliation among aggrieved members and groups to avoid any further depletion, because there is actually light at the end of the tunnel.”
Similarly, a chieftain of APC, Friday Kennedy, said it was wrong for the Amaechi faction to accuse defectors of acting like Brutus or changing party for loaves and fishes. Kennedy lamented that he was pained that the haemorrhage of APC has continued unattended to. He noted that Lloyd who just left the party to join Governor Wike in PDP is not a pushover politically. According to him, by his nature and political stature, he did not leave APC alone, but surely with a multitude from his Emohua council.
“Hon. Dr. Chidi Lloyd is no ordinary politician,” Aguma said. “He is an intellectual, a lecturer with a PhD in law. He was Majority Leader of Rivers State House of Assembly for eight years or more. He is one of the closest confidants and allies of the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
He stated that something was wrong with APC and its members could not continue to pretend and continue to sink while others continue to win and consolidate.
Concerned about the fate of APC, a political observer and former spokesperson for the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Legborsi Esaen, said for a party to remain relevant and to win Rivers State, the various factions wouldn’t only have to reconcile sincerely and wholeheartedly but they also have to break PDP.
“Achieving the first one is the greatest task,” Esean said, “if it’s done, the second one will play out naturally. A lot of persons under the umbrella are there because there is no alternative. Ahead of 2023, more career politicians in the state will continue to drop the broom for the umbrella as long as there seems to be no end to the internal squabbles in APC. Politicians, just like footballers, need a pitch for training and matches.”
Another political commentator, Richard Eze, has observed that defections in Rivers State in recent times were products of various socio-political complexes. He said some who have either dumped APC or PDP vice versa, have done so without conscience because the business of politicians in politics is essentially power-oriented.
He, however, cautioned that Governor Wike and PDP high command should look hard at the side effects of influx of defectors particularly controversial ones, who might turn out to be moles and catalysts for destabilisation.