Atiku is my friend but I’m supporting Obi – PDP chieftain

Peter Obi, Anambra, PDP, 2021

A PDP governorship aspirant in Abia, Sampson Orji, has declared his support for the Labour Party’s Presidential Candidate, Peter Obi.

Mr Orji disclosed this in a statement issued in Umuahia on Thursday.

He stated that his preference for Mr Obi against PDP’s Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar, was based on Mr Obi’s competence.

He further stated that he would mobilise support for Obi “not because he is his fellow Igboman but for his antecedent”.

He stated: “I’m a PDP man till tomorrow but I will support Obi not because he is Igbo but because of what he represents.

“Obi is a movement. My family and friends will vote for him.

“Atiku is my friend but Obi is a better candidate.”

Mr Orji added: “Aside from competence, equity also favours Obi’s candidacy.

“South-East is the only zone in Southern Nigeria yet to take its turn at the Presidency.

“Why can’t Atiku support Obi, who was his running mate in 2019?

“I must speak the truth: What are we gaining in PDP that for 16 years it was in power, Aba-Port Harcourt Expressway is not passable?

“You cannot drive from Umuahia to Ikot Ekpene or Owerri to Umuahia on a good road.

“So, it is blindness to tell me to support Atiku, when we have Obi who has shown competence and capacity to take Nigeria out of the woods.

“Should I work against him because he is Igbo?”

In a related development, Mr Orji also lent his support to the candidacy of Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe of APGA for Abia South Senatorial District for the fifth time.

Mr Abaribe, who aspired for the PDP’s governorship ticket, later defected to APGA, alleging irregularities in PDP’s three-man delegates congress.

He is being challenged by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, who picked the PDP’s ticket for the same constituency.

Mr Orji, popularly called SCOJ, described Mr Abaribe as too experienced to be sacrificed for Mr Ikpeazu.

He stated that Abaribe had proved his mettle in the Upper Chamber, considering his antecedent and pedigree as an experienced lawmaker.

He therefore advised Mr Ikpeazu to step down for him (Abaribe) and not waste his time and resources.

Mr Orji, a former Commissioner for Trade and Commerce, argued that it would be a great disservice to Abia South to replace a champion with a fresher.

He stated, “Asking me to choose between Ikpeazu and Abaribe is like asking one to choose between experience and the lack of it.

“Abaribe is too experienced to be replaced with a greenhorn, who would only go there to begin to learn the ropes.

“Abaribe has performed well in the senate.

“At a time he was the only voice not just for PDP or Ndigbo but Nigeria.

“He stood against injustice in the Senate.

“If I have the opportunity, I will tell Ikpeazu to step down for him.

“It is not a must that every governor will retire to the senate.

“I am a Christian and at my age, if I see what is right and refuse to say it, I wonder if I will say it in the grave.”

Mr Orji noted that being a PDP chieftain would not make him to shy away from the truth “because of my conscience and Christian faith”.

He frowned at the trend where every governor now developed the penchant to retire to the Senate.

According to him, the red chamber should not be converted into a retirement benefit for former governors.

Mr Orji, a former lawmaker in the state, however, added that “if Ikpeazu did well as governor, he will win”.

He opined that being a governor did not translate to automatic victory at the poll.

He cited the case of Senator Orji Kalu who, after two tenures as governor, contested for the Senate for three consecutive times and lost until the fourth attempt.

Mr Orji tipped the PDP candidate for Abia North Senatotrial District, a former House of Representatives member, Mao Ohuabunwa, to defeat Kalu.

Mr Kalu is running on APC’s platform for his second tenure.

Meanwhile, Mr Orji, who contested the PDP’s governorship primary election of May 25, has approached the Umuahia Division of the Federal High Court to nullify Uche Ikonne’s emergence as the party’s flag bearer.

The Court has slated Friday, October 21 for the hearing of the suit.