By Segun Odeleye
The governor of Akwa Ibom, Godswill Akpabio said on Monday that the aggrieved members of the PDP, including the rebel governors, were free to leave the party.
Akpabio accused them of distracting President Goodluck Jonathan by capitalising on his humility.
Akpabio who spoke with State House correspondents on the sideline of the launching of the third edition of the Youth Enterprise Innovation in Nigeria programme in Abuja on Monday said that it was impossible to be a good leader without first being a good follower.
According to Akpabio, the PDP as a big and robust party, was not worried by some of its members’ threats to dump it and join the opposition All Progressives Congress or the Peoples Democratic Movement.
He also said that political leaders must realise that sometimes, when they want to join another party, their followers might not go with them.
Akpabio said, “I don’t see a problem in the issues of certain politicians wanting to change party. It is a normal thing in politics that people move from one political party to the other. But what is important is that we move on and the country moves on.
“And as the PDP is very big and robust, with branches in 774 local governments, if you have five persons moving away from it, you have 10 to 50 moving into it.
“There are so many APC members who are approaching me on a daily basis that they want to be in the PDP but I keep telling them that it is not yet time. When we resolve this issue of the G-7 governors, you will see the big fishes that will come out of the APC.
“They are ready to come out and when they come out, it is going to be a boom for the PDP.The party is robust enough to readjust itself. It is the only political party in Nigeria that is not owned by any individual or a certain group.
“The PDP belongs to Nigerians. So, if one Nigerian leaves the PDP, another Nigerian comes in and the party goes on.Those of us who are leaders need to be careful because when we are moving to another political party, our followers may not go with us.
“ In the PDP, there is no shaking. I’m very delighted that the President is very prepared to continue to discuss with any group, not just the G-7, any group of Nigerians within or outside the party.”
He further said that “In any rebellion, we can resolve it through dialogue and I think that that’s what the President is doing. That is also what the PDP leadership is doing; to see how it can discuss and bring the situation to a close.
“But I believe that you cannot be a good leader unless you are a good follower and I believe also strongly that leadership comes from God.
“So the question of rebelling against leadership has its repercussion because if I rebel against the leadership at the federal level, I should expect somebody also to rebel against my leadership at the state level, maybe from my own local government.
“And it is expected that as a state governor, I should respect the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. So, it is not important who occupies the position. I think what is important is to give respect to the institution of the Presidency. And that way, the international community can also respect Nigeria.”
The New PDP has however flayed Akpabio, saying he is the brain behind those plotting to discredit Jonathan if he ventures to contest the 2015 election.
It said, “Because of his inferiority complex, he (Akpabio) does not want those who are better than him in all ramifications to be in the PDP. All the G-7 governors are his superiors in politics.
“He has lost ground in Akwa Ibom and can’t guarantee his ward for the PDP much less of the state. He is the arrowhead of 16 is superior to 19 to exhibit his poor understanding of democracy.”