Faced with unprecedented backlash and threat to his political career, former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, on Wednesday denied calling Igbo people who are supporting the Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, saboteurs.
Ihedioha in a statement issued in Owerri, the Imo State capital, by his Spokesperson, Chibuike Onyeukwu, said there was no way he could have called Igbo people supporting Obi saboteurs when he shared close relationship with the LP presidential candidate.
The statement accused those it described as “fifth columnists” of being responsible for the media bashing he had received following the development.
In the viral video which raised condemnations and threats to his political career, Ihedioha had warned his kinsmen and supporters that anyone working for the Labour Party presidential candidate is a saboteur and taking a risk to their lives.
Claiming that there were only two recognised political parties in Nigeria, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Supreme Court sacked Governor of Imo State said: “Nigeria is in search for leadership; we cannot stay away; I understand the ethics, It is either we get involved or we are not involved. There are two parties; the PDP and APC. Those who don’t know should know. APC is the name of criminals, rogues among other names. If you vote any other place, you are a saboteur.
“After Atiku Abubakar the next president will come from South East of Nigeria. That is the gospel in Accra (Ghana) if you somebody tells you any another thing; that person must win in Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Niger, Kwara, Plateau Benue, Jigawa, and among other Northern states before you can be a President of Nigeria. Emotions and sentiment don’t win elections; you must be realistic to win elections. You must plan to win elections and that is where I belong.”
But Ihedioha said in the statement that his address at the new yam festival of Mbaise people living in Ghana was misconstrued, adding that he was referring to members of his political party, the Peoples Democratic Party, who were sabotaging the party in the South-East zone.
Ihedioha’s rebuttal statement reads: “A few days ago, His Excellency Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha CON, on the invitation of his kinsmen, was in Accra, Ghana, to celebrate this year’s Iri Ji festival with the Mbaise community in that country.
“As a founding member and one of the leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, he seized the opportunity of that visit to address PDP issues nationally but particularly in Imo State and assuage the anxiety of the members of his party who have been apprehensive of the developments within the party.
“In doing so, he decried what, at best, is the insouciant attitude and worse, the outright sabotage of some acclaimed party leaders who are engaging in acts that are inimical to the success of the PDP, especially in the South-East by working in cahoots with the other parties. He was only talking about members of his own political party.
“For clarity purposes, His Excellency neither referred to members of any other political party, especially the Labour Party, as saboteurs. He only spoke in the context of the PDP and the emphasis was on the need for members of his party to remain consistent and committed.
“It is inconceivable that he will refer to anybody who is supporting Mr. Peter Obi, Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party, his long time friend, with whom he shares close political affinity and has utmost respect for, as a saboteur.
“It is unfortunate that his well-intentioned speech, which addressed the specific issue of happenings within his own political party, was, again, manipulated by fifth columnists to suit their mischievous scheme of bringing him on a collision with Mr. Peter Obi, whose unwavering political philosophy of ‘Taking Back Nigeria’ from the draconian stranglehold of the failed ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, he wholeheartedly shares.
“His Excellency respects the aspirations and passion of members of other political parties, even as he remains committed to the cause of his own political party and it is not in his character to cast aspersions on those who hold contrary political opinion.”