The intention of the two political gladiators is still in the duvet. The recent inauguration of ward chapters of All Progressives Congress while another is in the waiting is a clear pointer of division. The attention of the public is drawn to the fact that there is a gulf indeed a deep crack in the APC, Akwa Ibom chapter.
Like a king and a queen in an anthill, the two factions dwell together in one party. Unlike king and queen in the same sandy mould, they are two different personages towing a different path and serving different interest of their followers.
This is scenario playing out in APC which is the house of strange political bedfellows. In the political turf is the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio up against the current National Care-taker Secretary of the APC, Senator John James Akpan Udoedehe.
The two political war horses are again locked in the fierce battle for supremacy over the party structure and leadership of the party in the state. The two camps have girded their loins at the battle front with their loyalists split into two camps in queue.
Akpabio and Udoedehe have had running battles for political control of the oil-rich state under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), following the expiration of the tenure of Obong Victor Attah in 2007.
It was gathered that irreconcilable differences between them forced Udoedehe, to ditch the PDP to the opposition Action Congress, following the transformation of the party from AC to Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, “to reflect national outlook.”
But in 2018, Akpabio was equally forced to have defected from PDP to APC at a well-attended crowd over what he said ‘’I want to play national politics and to bring Akwa Ibom to the national polity.’’
One faction led by Akpabio has Group Captain Sam Ewang (retd), APC BOT member; Eseme Eyibo, a former member of House of Representatives; Obongemem Ekperikpe Ekpo, one-time member of House of Representatives; Obong Maurice Ebong, Hon. Aboh Uduyok, among others.
Another faction led by Udoedehe has Dr. Ita Udosen, the acting caretaker committee chairman; Obong Umana Okon Umana, Managing Director of the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA); Obong Nsima Ekere, the 2019 Governorship candidate and former MD NDDC; Senator Nelson Effiong; Barr. Bassey Dan-Abia, a former Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC); and Emmanuel Ukoette, a two-term member of House of Representatives, among others.
On Sunday, August 29, 2021 at Eseme Essien Event Centre, Uyo, the APC Organizing Secretary, Akwa Ibom, Hon. Aboh Uduyok was said to have sworn in Ward Executives of the party in the state in what some political observers saw as a ‘factional one.’
At the swearing-in ceremony, Uduyok said in line with the provisions of the APC Constitution, it was incumbent on him to carry out the swearing-in and inauguration of the ward executives of the Party. Uduyok thanked the leaders of APC for not allowing the party to be pocketed by an individual, emphasizing that every member of APC has equal right, irrespective of when he or she joined the party, stating that “there is no landlord in APC.”
The Director-General of Akwa Ibom Democratic Forum (ADF), Obongemem Ekpo said he was concerned about the fate of those party faithful, who pulled out their hard earned money to buy forms for the Congress, and were shortchanged by a few persons who claimed ownership of the party.
“Let me sincerely thank the five Ward Chairmen for refusing to accept the outcome of the Congress, who approached the court, and the court validated the constitution of the party. A Court Order was given and that is what empowers you to be inaugurated today, and you are the authentic officers of APC at the ward level,” Ekpo emphasised.
He reiterated that the future of APC was in the hands of the ward executives, adding that “whosoever will be the governor of Akwa Ibom State will be from the APC and you are going to be the ones to bring that person. There is no King that can crown himself, you are the ones that are going to crown whosoever will become the governor of Akwa Ibom State.”
“Nobody owns APC. We have come to build APC for Victory. We are not interested in who becomes the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, but we will know who will be the governor of the State. We don’t need to bring somebody that has been failing all the times, we are not presenting any failure. We need somebody that will win the election for us and we will elect that person.”
Obong Maurice Ebong said the inauguration has ushered a rebirth of the party in Akwa Ibom State. He said by the exercise, “we have been able to arrest what seemingly was a drifting in the party.
Also speaking, Pastor Abasiandikan Nkono, representing Eket Senatorial District said the event marked the beginning of the change in the Akwa Ibom APC, noting that there has been a paradigm shift in the party.
“As far as APC is concerned, today marks the beginning of change Mr. President has been talking about. The President said, change must begin with you, and change must begin with me. Today that change has begun in Akwa Ibom State. It is a paradigm shift, and so we want to completely align ourselves with the Organising Secretary of our Party who has taken the bull by the horns. He has proven that no single person own APC in Akwa Ibom State. APC belongs to all of us, and so it is your duty to take your position as co-owners of APC.”
However, Akwa Ibom State chapter of APC has vowed to sanction all those behind the purported inauguration of ward executives and their sponsors in the state.
The party described the purported inauguration as a “package of misinformation and an act of lawlessness driven to extremity” and advised the general public to disregard such “evil daydream.”
A statement by the party’s Publicity Secretary, Nkereuwem Enyongekere, on Tuesday, August 31 entitled, ‘Purported Inauguration of Ward Executives in Akwa Ibom state,’ disassociated itself from what it called “abysmal show of hooliganism.”
“The attention of the All Progressives Congress, Akwa Ibom State Chapter has been drawn to the purported inauguration of Ward Executives bandied around on social media and hatched by lackeys of the Akwa Ibom Democratic Forum whose duplicitous and dishonourable activities remain patently comical and deeply farcical.
“The State Chapter of APC under the able leadership of Dr. Ita Udosen strongly condemns and disassociates the party from this abysmal show of hooliganism and ill-fated attempt to factionalise the APC in Akwa Ibom State.
“The party further dismisses it as a package of misinformation and act of lawlessness driven to extremity and advises its teeming members and general public to disregard such evil daydream.
“Ironically, it is on record that these mercantile elements, after their failed attempts to unleash mayhem and embarrass our great party, claimed there was no ward Congress on July 31, 2021 across the state and even took the party to court. Sadly, while the subsisting litigations were neither ruled on by the Honourable Court nor withdrawn, they resorted to perpetuate this height of illegality.
“It is even more legally culpable and unconscionable that the shenanigans preempted the planned meeting of the CECPC slated for today Monday 30th August 2021 in Abuja to review various State Appeal Committee reports and approve accordingly before inaugurations are ordered.
“The party, therefore, frowns at this show of mischief and vows that those involved in this brigandage and their sponsors will be sanctioned no matter how highly placed,” Nkereuwem said.
He assured that after the review of Appeal Committee reports and necessary approval by CECPC, the authentic Ward Executives that emerged from the July 31, 2021 Ward Congress would be sworn in on a date that will be communicated by the party.
He urged the party hierarchy in the state to remain calm while assuring that the APC would remain stable and work towards taking over the Hilltop Mansion in 2023.
Eventually, the APC debacle between Akpabio and Udoedehe is compared to two kings fighting for one crown- the soul of the party in Akwa Ibom to notch their ambition as 2023 general elections draw near.