Can Udofia End PDP’s Rule In Akwa Ibom ?
Many residents of Akwa Ibom were sh0cked last week when Obong Akanimo Udofia was declared the winner of the governorship primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC). With his victory, Udofia will slug it out with Pastor Umo Eno, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the anointed candidate of the outgoing governor of the state, Udom Emmanuel.
In the suspense-filled exercise which lasted from midnight till the wee hours of Friday May 27, Udofia polled a total of 1,227 votes to beat seven other contestants including the immediate past Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta, Senator Ita Enang who scored 34 votes and Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, the immediate past National Secretary of the APC Caretaker Committee who got 2 votes.
Other participants in the primary exercise which was conducted by the Akwa Ibom APC Election Committee chaired by Omoba Tunde Ajibulu were Professor Chris Ekong, 21 votes, Uduak Udoh 7 votes, Richard Anana 2 votes, Larry Esin 1 vote and Augustine Utuk 0.
What made his victory the talk of the town in the state was that few days earlier, Udofia had obtained the governorship form of the PDP but many of his associates who believed that he was the popular choice of the people and were against the alleged imposition of former Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Lands, Pastor Umo Bassey Eno as the PDP governorship candidate in the state by Governor Udom Emmanuel prevailed on him to join the APC in order to realise his ambition. He listened to their plea and defected to the APC. He obtained the governorship form and won the primary as the APC’s flagbearer in the 2023 polls.
In his victory speech, Udofia dedicated his victory to Akwa Ibom people, promising to bring prosperity to the state if he wins as governor in 2023.
In his words, “As someone who has been blessed by God, my interest in the leadership of our state is clearly a function of my desire to give back to society through selfless and effective service. My emergence as the APC gubernatorial flagbearer today is a victory for every Akwa Ibom citizen, who desires development for our dear state and the prosperity of its people”.
“As we progress into the forthcoming gubernatorial elections, I urge you to keep up the good work as we prepare to coast to victory. I hope to deploy my local experience, vast network and global connections, to make this collective dream for a better Akwa Ibom, a reality”.
The election witnessed intense struggle, powerplay and intrigues between the factions of the Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio, and Senator John James Akpanudoedehe. The two factions had battled for the possession of materials for the primary at the Victor Attah International Airport and there after along Oron road by Udo Udoma avenue.
While the Akpanudoedehe’s group wanted to take the materials to Sheer Grace Arena, venue of it’s primary, Akpabio’s faction also struggled to take the materials to its state party office at Ekpo Obot street, Uyo.
In a press release on Wednesday by APC Party Faithfuls In Akwa Ibom state, Chief Don Etiebet, former Minister of Petroleum Resources said “We are all aware that the Panel sent from the National Headquarters of our great Party arrived the Victor Attah International Airport in a Private jet and was received by the Party’s South South Zonal Secretary. Thereafter they rode in convoy in a bus and were to go to the authorized INEC recognized Venue at Sheergrace Arena for the conduct of the gubernatorial primary election where all the accredited delegates had gathered”.
“Along the way, the Panel members objected to going to Sheergrace Arena Venue saying they were directed from Abuja to go to a Venue at No. 6 Ekpo Obot Street in the town which was unknown to the Party and even INEC and Police to be the Venue for the conduct of the primary. This was resisted by the Party members who had followed the Bus from the airport, saying the authorized Venue was at the Sheergrace Arena. This resulted in some disagreements that lasted for more than two hours. In order to avert violence, they all agreed to go to the DSS Director’s office for safety of persons and materials”.
“Meanwhile, the CP and the INEC REC who were waiting for them in their offices linked up and went to Sheergrace Arena the Venue of the primary to wait for the Panel to arrive to conduct the primary election. When the Panel members did not go to the Venue, a telephone conversation ensued between the INEC REC Mr. Mike Igini and the Director of DSS in the presence of the CP who was also at the Sheergrace Arena Venue. It was heard that the Director of DSS asked Mr. Mike Igini to speak with the Chairman of the Panel who was with him in his office”.
“During the telephone conversation the Chairman of the Panel told INEC REC that they were too traumatized and tired to conduct any more Primary election that day and that he had told other gubernatorial aspirants that the Primary election was postponed. Mr. Mike Igini went further to confirm with the Panel Chairman that he would not conduct any primary election again that night before he, Mr. Mike Igini announced to the delegates that the Primary election had been postponed and then left the Sheergrace Arena Venue as well as the CP”.
“The whole of this episode and the telephone conversation between Mr. Mike Igini, the INEC Resident Commissioner, the Director of DSS and the Panel Chairman is on tape. Unfortunately, the Panel members were surreptitiously drafted to another venue by certain people to proceed to purportedly conduct gubernatorial primaries without the presence of the Commission at about midnight when all the Party faithfuls and delegates had since dispatched following the announcement of the postponement of the Governorship primaries by the INEC Resident Commissioner of Akwa Ibom State. This is quite contrary to the provisions of Section 84(1) of the election Act and cannot be allowed to stand”.
“We therefore take this opportunity to appeal to the leadership of our great Party to intervene and have the situation redressed by directing the conduct of proper gubernatorial primaries in line with Section 84 (1) of the Electoral Act immediately before it is too late”.
On his part, Udofia has extended a hand of fellowship to other aggrieved members of the party and promised to carry everyone along even as they looked forward to winning Akwa Ibom at the 2023 general elections.
Speaking during a courtesy visit to the residende of Akpabio in Uyo, he said “I want to say that this is the beginning of a revolution. The Akwa Ibom APC has spoken very loud, you have indicated that true change will come to Akwa Ibom State come 2023. You have agreed that we are going to use our great party, the APC to institutionalize the dividends of democracy and it must cascade down to the last ward, to the last corner”.
“We are going to build a greater Akwa Ibom State. It is going to be an enormous task but when I look at the resilience of each and every one of you party faithful, I know you are ready to join hands with me and together we are going to make Akwa Ibom a greater and better state.”
Already, his efforts are already yielding a positive effect as Prof Christopher Ekong, one of the governorship aspirants has urged other contestants who lost the primary, to rally round Udofia, so that the party would win the 2023 gubernatorial election. He lamented that after the primary which Udofia won, some segment of the party led by otherwise great party men and politicians, had elected to reject the exercise, even though it was free and fair.
Ekong, in a press conference titled : “We must not allow individual goals, greed, hatred, self-centredness and unforgiving spirit kill our party”, said he had accepted the outcome of the primary and cautioned other contestants against steps and actions that would weaken the chance of the winner in the general poll.
“Obong Akan Udofia had been declared winner of the APC governorship primary in Akwa Ibom State. I had since accepted the result as declared by the party. I want to use this opportunity to call on all other aspirants in the race to sheathe their swords and open the doors for reconciliation and healing to support and work with the flag bearer to win the governorship elections come 2023. The clearest opportunity open to APC to win the elections in Akwa Ibom State is now. So every obstacle on our road and quest to realise this must be avoided. We must accept the choice of the people and that of the party as a sacrosanct mandate that should be allowed to rule the day.”
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