By SUNDAY ODIBASHI
The All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders in Akwa Ibom State are
delighted that Senator Godswill Akpabio, former Governor of Akwa Ibom
State, was roundly defeated in the 2019 general elections in the
state. Sources disclosed that APC leaders, particularly, from Uyo
senatorial district of the state, have no regret over the outcome of
the 2019 general elections won by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
in Akwa Ibom State. They consider the loss a big relief for the party
leaders, and a big blow to Akpabio who they said was playing god, and
assumed colossal status of a massive godfather in Akwa Ibom politics
prior to the elections.
Senator Akpabio had defected from the PDP to the APC few months to the
takeoff of electioneering campaign for the 2019 general elections. On
defection, Akpabio took over the leadership of the state party from
leaders who built APC from the primary legacy party, the ACN, over the
years. This did not go down well with pioneer APC leaders like James
Akpan Udedeghe, and others.
Our sources reiterated that APC leaders and members from Uyo
senatorial district were not comfortable with Apkabio’s defection from
the PDP; they therefore, allegedly mobilized the voting population of
their cultural clime for protest votes across Akwa Ibom State in the
elections. They considered the former governor a political virus in
the state; as well as constituting political liability than asset to
the APC in Akwa Ibom State, our sources said.
The stakeholders noted that apart from the political violence or
political killings the opposition suffered in the past years which
incumbent Governor Udom Emmanuel has given them a break in about the
past four years, the defection of Akpabio to APC constituted a serious
threat to the power rotation agreement in the state.
APC leaders in Uyo senatorial district felt that the defection of
Akpabio could subvert the power sharing negotiation they had with
Nsima Ekere earlier. Our sources said the Uyo district feels cut off
from the Government House after the eight years tenure of former
Governor Victor Attah – 1999 to 2007. They protest that since then,
the Government House is being shared between the Ikot Ekpene and Eket
senatorial districts in the nomination of governor and deputy governor
of the state on the order of former Governor Akpabio.
Sources further revealed that party leaders in Uyo senatorial
district, which has the highest voting population in Akwa Ibom State,
had negotiation with the eventual APC governorship candidate, Nsima
Ekere, to pick the deputy governorship candidate from Uyo; which Nsima
agreed. On defection, Akpabio was alleged to have ordered Nsima
Ekere, representing Eket, to pick the deputy governorship candidate
from Ikot Ekpene district.
Meanwhile, Governor Udom Emmanuel, representing Eket, has a deputy
governor from Ikot Ekpene senatorial district, Akpabio’s political
clime. So, in the entire political arrangement, Uyo is completely cut
off from the power equation of the state. In the eight years tenure of
Akpobio – 2007 to 2015 – Eket had the deputy governor slot, as Ikot
Ekpene occupied the governor position; thereafter, Eket took over the
governor while Ikot Ekpene senatorial district occupies the deputy
Accordingly, Uyo political leaders lost confidence in Nsima Ekere for
abandoning the agreement they had, and taking order from Akpabio to
pick his deputy from Ikot Ekpene; they also developed distrust that
Nsima Ekere may not limit himself to one term of four years and allow
power to rotate to Uyo senatorial district in 2023. Incumbent Governor
Emmanuel has taken one term of the Ikot Ekpene eight years turn.
Accordingly, Uyo APC leaders felt they cannot trust the sincerity of
Nsima Ekere and the godfather status of Akpabio.
The Uyo senatorial district is the headquarters of the largest tribe
in Akwa Ibom State, the Ibibio, followed by the Anang and others.
Also, the Ibibio are spread across the three senatorial districts in
the state. Curiously, Governor Udom Emmanuel and Nsima Ekere are both
Ibibio, though have their descent in Eket.
Apparently, the Uyo political leaders have more confidence in Governor
Emmanuel who will be completing his second tenure in 2023 when they
expect power to come back to the district; they, therefore, resolved
to support the incumbent governor in order to protect the Uyo
interest. They were said to be happy with the outcome of the elections
in Akwa Ibom State.
In Ikot Ekpene senatorial district, the people felt that Akpabio has
dominated the scene for too long and they needed others to go into the
system. Thus, Chris Ekpeyong, a grassroots political leader, became
the preferred candidate in the senatorial election. The people felt
that eight years of being governor of the state, and another four
years of being a senator were sufficient for the former Minority
Leader in the Senate. Again, the Ibibio voting population in Ikot
Ekpene aligned with the Ibibio agenda in Uyo to end Akpabio’s
dominance of Akwa Ibom State polity, and gave their support to the PDP
senatorial candidate, Chris Ekpeyong, a former deputy governor,
indiscriminate of their political party leanings.
Meanwhile, APC leaders in Akwa Ibom are already expressing subtle
opposition to any prospect of offering Akpabio ministerial
appointment. Our sources said that they are bent on sending the former
governor on political retirement and commence the process of
rebuilding the state and reorganizing the party Akwa Ibom.
The power rotation agreement was signed by leaders in the three
senatorial districts in Akwa Ibom State, Uyo, Ikot Ekpene and Eket.
Implementation of the agreement started from Uyo senatorial district
in 1999, ending in Eket district, the zone of the incumbent governor.
The first circle will end in 2023.