Following the dismal performance of All Progressives Congress, APC, in Akwa Ibom State during the Presidential/National Assembly elections, some of the party’s bigwigs in the state have jumped ship, thereby depleting the numerical strenght of APC.
Mr Dan Akpan, a former member of the House of Representatives, contested on February 23 election under APC, with his teeming supporters, has defected to Peoples Democratic Party, PDP during the PDP governorship mop-up rally in Uyo Township stadium.
Akpan, who was defeated by Onofiok Luke, the Speaker of the state House of Assembly in the just-concluded House of Representatives, wanted to represent Etinan/Nsit Ibom/Nsit Ubium Federal constituency.
Akpan stated that he started his political career in the PDP, having held positions as a Councillor, Local Government Chairman, State Assembly member and National Assembly member under the Umbrella Party, saying that the defection was home-coming for him.
He noted that the current waves of defection hitting the APC, has rendered the Party incapacitated, saying, ” no shaking, there is no structure again in APC” and added that they will support Governor to secure his second term bid just as his predecessors served.
Mr. Saviour Udoh, a former member of House of Representatives who represented Ikot Ekpene/Essien Udim/Obot Akara Federal Constituency from Obot Akara local government area also defected to PDP.
Also, Dr. Etido Ibekwe, a former Majority Leader in the state House of Assembly from Essien Udim, defected to PDP with his supporters.
Ibekwe, who hails from Essien Udim local government area with Senator Godswill Akpabio, said, “Today, I celebrate my political freedom. I thank Governor Udom Emmanuel for what he has done for Itai Afe Annang by rehabilitating the only road to our community that was abandoned for so many years.”
Others included Efefiong Antigha, APC chieftain and former Deputy Chief Whip, who represented Okobo State Constituency in the state House of Assembly and Arc. Essien Nkanga, a one-time Uyo local government chairman.
The rest were Elder Ime Umoh and George Uya from Okobo local government area; Obonganwan Arit Udonwa, a woman leader from Ibesikpo Asutan local government area and Apostle Ikon John, APC Zonal Chairman.
Among the defectors were 40 APC members; 24 serving APC Chapter Youth Leaders; former APC Youth Caucus members led by Joshua Basil Nya, aka Joe Pastor as well as 36 Group Heads for Obong Nsima Ekere For ONE led by Prince Michael Isonguyo and Mrs. Idorenyin Effiong Ekpo.
On her part, Obonganwan Arit Udonwa described the APC as a scam, saying that nothing good could come out from the broom party which strengthened her resolve to team up with the PDP where evidence of good leadership abounds.
Others who also spoke at the event, declared support and pledged to tirelessly work for the victory of the PDP, included the Secretary, Forum of Youth Groups for Nsima Ekere, Prince Isonguyo, Mr. Joshua Nya (Joe Pastor) and a former Youth Leader of the opposition party, Godswill.
Earlier, Dr. Edet Efretuei, a former governorship aspirant of the APC, had stated, “Governor Emmanuel has not been given sufficient credit for the wonderful works he has done in the state, that is why we are here, rating the Governor high on his development projects during his first term.”
Dr. Efretuei lauded the Governor’s wife, Martha, for her good conduct and humility even in the face of provocation, calling on the people to go out and vote massively for Governor Emmanuel’s re-election without any fear of the perceived ‘federal might’.
Presenting the defectors to the State PDP Chairman, Chief Sunny Udom, a former Director- General of Umana Okon Umana APC governorship campaign organization, who had earlier defected to the Umbrella Party, indicated that the mass defection that hit the state APC was in fulfilment of his earlier promise that he would draw out meaningful individuals from the party to support good governance.
Responding, Obong Paul Ekpo, the State PDP Chairman, welcomed the defectors into the ruling Party, lauding their decision to join hands with the Party to build the state and urged them to keep their promise of loyalty to the PDP to ensure victory at the upcoming elections.
Obong Ekpo applauded their foresight at realizing that the PDP is the only Party that means well for the people of the state, adding that with divine backing, it will continue to remain victorious and stressed, ‘Akwa Ibom State is PDP and PDP is Akwa Ibom. Only God”.
Governor Emmanuel commended Akwa Ibom people for voting the PDP on February 23, and urged them to come out to vote for the PDP on March 9, despite intimidation from desperate politicians.
Emmanuel said: “Let me appreciate all of you. All other political parties came here and collapsed their structure and declared for the PDP, I want to assure them in the PDP there are many mansions, the umbrella is big enough to accommodate everybody.”
“The PDP is big enough to cover them, PDP is the only party that can bring unity, development, bring infrastructure and preach righteousness. Today, I am here to tell Akwa Ibom people that I appreciate for your love and support, I salute you for standing firm, and for being resilient in letting the world know the difference between light and darkness, and the difference God and man.”
The governor, however, cautioned security agencies against intimidation of the electorate but to continue to join hands with his government to maintain peace and security in the state.
The Director-General, Divine Mandate Organisation, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (retd) called on Senator Akpabio to accept his defeat and congratulate Chris Ekpenyong, who defeated him at the elections.