A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party in Abia State, Dr Sampson Orji, has advised Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to step down for the incumbent Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe of the All Progressive Grand Alliance for the Abia South senatorial seat.
Orji, a former Commissioner for Trade and Commerce said this during a live radio programme ‘Open Parliament’, monitored in Umuahia.
He advised Ikpeazu, who is PDP’s candidate for the Abia South senatotrial district, that Abaribe had, based on his antecedents, proven to be the most qualified for the red chamber.
He saw it as a disservice to the people of Abia South to “replace a champion with somebody who would begin to learn the ropes”.
Orji stated that Abaribe had aspired for the governorship seat under the platform of PDP but later withdrew, hours before the primaries, citing irregularities in the conduct of the three-man ad-hoc congress, and subsequently defected to APGA where he was given a return ticket to the red chamber.
Orji said that if given the opportunity to choose between Ikpeazu and Abaribe , he would “vote for Abaribe against Ikpeazu” as “it is like asking one to choose between experience and lack of experience”.
He said, “Abaribe has performed well in the senate. At a time he was the only voice not just for PDP or Ndigbo but for Nigeria at the Senate. He stood against injustice and you cannot use a man who will be there to learn the ropes of legislation to replace him.
“If I have the opportunity, I will tell Ikpeazu to step down for Abaribe. It is not a must that every governor will retire at the Senate.
According to Orji, being a PDP chieftain would not make him to shy away from the truth because of his conscience and Christian faith, arguing that every former Governor “must not go to the Senate”, adding “the red chamber should not be converted into a retirement benefit for former governors”.
At the presidential level, Orji said he would support the Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi, against Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the PDP because of Obi’s competence.
Orji said he would mobilise support for Obi not because the Labour Party candidate is his fellow Igbo but because of his antecedents, stating that asking him to choose between Atiku and Obi was like asking him to choose between darkness and light, declaring that Obi represented light.
The PDP chieftain said, “I’m a PDP man till tomorrow but I will support Peter Obi. He is a movement. Atiku is my friend but Peter Obi is a better candidate. Apart from competence, equity also favours Obi’s candidature as the South East is the only zone in Southern Nigeria to take its turn at the Presidency.
“So, it is blindness to tell me to support Atiku when we have somebody in Peter Obi who has shown competence and capacity to take Nigeria out of the woods.
“I will not work against him because he’s Igbo”.