The defection of former Senate Minority Leader, Obong Godswill Akpabio, from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the All Progressives Congress, APC, rolled out strong wave oscillating the pendulum swinging between the two political parties in contention for the hegemony of Akwa Ibom State. SUNDAY DOMINIC highlights the power reconfigurations in APC.
The All Progressives Congress, APC, in Akwa Ibom, before the defection of former Governor Godswill Akpabio from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was engulfed in internal rivalry between stakeholders who identified with the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, legacy party bloc and the nPDP coopted bloc over control of the party. The defection of Senator Akpabio on Wednesday, August 8, 2018, to the APC and his instant recognition by APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, as party leader skewed the power structure in the State Party towards the PDP bloc.
The former Senate Minority Leader’s defection to the APC also reinforced the party to confront the PDP with relatively equivalent force and resources.
However, the expectation that the former governor’s loyalists or associates in the administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel of the PDP would resign from the government and switch camp did not happen immediately. The two commissioners that took side with the defected senator were sacked from the State cabinet after they joined the groups that welcomed Akpabio to Akwa Ibom at the airport on arrival from Abuja.
This is unlike in Kano State where the deputy governor, 10 aides in the Kano State Cabinet, six lawmakers in Kano State House of Assembly, and some local government chairman and councilors defected to the PDP, after those in the executive resigned, to join their political principal, Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso in the PDP. In Kwara State, the governor and all cabinet members, APC leaders, including APC National Publicity Secretary and local government chairmen dumped the APC for the PDP to join their political principal, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki.
Akwa Ibom State Deputy Governor, about 14 commissioners and special advisers appointed into the State Cabinet on Akpabio’s political influence, still stayed back in the PDP government. A few, however, switched camps later, dumping PDP to join Akpabio in APC.
The ACN bloc identified to be led by Senator John James Akpan Udo-Edehe from Uyo, Akwa Ibom North East, was having a running battle with Obong Nsima Ekere, Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, leading the nPDP bloc.
In the power tussles, PDP leaders prove they have more money to fund elections in the state than leaders of ACN. Accordingly, the battle line for the 2019 APC governorship ticket was drawn between Akpanudoedehe of ACN faction and Nsima Ekere of PDP.
Nsima Ekere had stepped in to take the place of Obong Umana Okon Umana, who led the nPDP bloc in 2011 to emerge APC governorship candidate.
Akpanudoedehe supporters from Akwa Ibom State also argued that Nsima Ekere was not part of the team that built APC in the state, contending that he joined the party at the point APC had been stabilized after life-threatening sacrifices by party stakeholders in the era of political violence and killings by the PDP Government in the state between 2007 and 2015.
Meanwhile, Akwa Ibom North East, Uyo; and Akwa Ibom North West, Ikot Ekpene; were said to have in consensus, endorsed Udom Emmanuel for second term to complete the eight years two tenures of Akwa Ibom South, Eket, in keeping faith with the power rotation agreement, after which the governor moves to any of the two other senatorial zones.
Akpanudoedehe is from Uyo while Nsima Ekere is from Eket, the same zone with Governor Udom. It was obvious that the keep faith with the power rotation agreement, Nsima Ekere had better chance to pick the APC governorship ticket. Ekere picked the governorship ticket with promise to serve one term.
Some APC leaders in the state who spoke to this Reporter commended incumbent Governor Udom Emmanuel for giving them a break from political killings in the state. They celebrate this as a major landmark of the PDP government under the leadership of Udom Emmanuel in the past three years.
The APC leaders remarked that Akwa Ibom was a terror state between 2007 and 2015 when members of the main opposition political party, then ACN which is now APC, were under siege; slaughtered without restraint by cultists. Most party leaders decried that the killings were so bad that they had to relocate their parents to Lagos and other parts of the country to avoid being killed in Akwa Ibom State.
Dr. Udoma Bob Ekarika was said to almost had his Daarty Hotel demolished by the then PDP Government because of his opposition.
All the killings and destruction of property they celebrated, had been stopped in the administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel but are memories APC leaders and supporters will continue to live with.