By Harris-Okon Emmanuel
All seems to be well now between Senator Godswill Obot Akpabio, the immediate past governor of Akwa Ibom State and his political son and successor, Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel following the huge crowd of Akpabio’s who gathered at Abak mini-stadium to endorse Emmanuel for a second term.
Penultimate Friday, the Abak mini-stadium was filled. The atmosphere was carnival-like as party faithful and supporters armed with banners and placards and other paraphernalia of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, drummed support for their aspirants in the 2019 general polls.
At the podium, Governor Emmanuel and his beautiful wife, decked in a uniform with the party’s insignia and logo, looked excited and basked in the euphoria of the moment. The reception and endorsement rally was organized by Abak 5, comprising Abak, Oruk Anam, Etim Ekpo, Ika and Ukanafun local government areas of the state.
Many faithful of the party who had left in the wake of the 2015 general elections apparently due to ‘’irreconcilable differences” made a U-turn and were led back into the fold by Chief Sunny Udom, a loyalist of Umana Okon Umana and Director General, Akwa Ibom APC Campaigns in 2015.
The likes of Prof Nse Akpan; Otuekong Anietie Ekong; the APC woman leader; former commissioner, Effanga; and several others reported being staunch supporters of Umana Okon Umana, the APC governorship candidate in 2015 also retraced their steps to the PDP.
Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio’s presence spoke volume that he and his political godson had buried the hatchet after that infamous ‘’all was not well” utterance and this time, he spoke glowingly of the governor.
Akpabio equally received the nod of his kinsmen in the five local government areas to continue in the Senate beyond 2019 “because of his superlative performance in the red chamber.”
Speaker after speaker poured encomiums on the governor for his sterling qualities which have stabilized the polity and for a well-done job in barely three years in the saddle as well as being a worthy in-law of the Annang people.
PDP National Legal Adviser, Barrister Emmanuel Enoidem, who chaired the occasion, remarked that the event was for the people of Abak 5 to communally validate the Governor, their In-law, for a second term in office with a pledge to deliver 300,000 votes to him in 2019.
According to the former Commissioner, the governor’s endorsement for a second term was occasioned by what he described as his capacity, ability, uniqueness, achievements in each of the five-point agenda and many other sectorial successes.
‘’The Governor has consolidated on infrastructural development while working to inaugurate the first fertilizer blending plant in Abak and he has shown that it is possible for a successor to lead the state without rancour with his predecessor in office. You are a man chosen by God, and no man is strong enough to take the mantle away from you. Do not be intimidated, Obong Victor Attah did eight years, Godswill Akpabio did eight years, and your own will not be different”, he said.
Senator Akpabio, who intermittently sang while giving his response, said: “I came as a witness to see the mammoth crowd that appreciates what God has done in Akwa Ibom State under the leadership of Mr. Udom Emmanuel.” Stating that the constituency projects he inaugurated in the past three years were complimentary of the governor’s achievements, Akpabio threw his weight behind Emmanuel to win the governorship elections. He thanked the people for endorsing him for the Red Chamber from next year to 2023.
On his part, State Chairman of PDP, Obong Paul Ekpo noted that the epic event was an indication that the PDP had a religious following in the oil-rich state and commended all and sundry for the show of support.
‘’The Governor’s good works have brought the people back to him in PDP in view of the fact that the party was leaving positive footprints in the state”, he said, adding that the party was ready to accommodate all shades of interest of members for the sake of justice and oneness.
Chief Udom in a strong-worded speech at his defection said the APC as a party was kaput and cannot win the governorship polls in the state. As he put it, from promises and implementation of policies, the APC has failed its faithful across communities and states, pledging to support the continuation of the Emmanuel administration in 2019.
Chief Udom, a former Council boss, said: “Out of the 50,000 people in this stadium, 20,000 followed me, it is not easy. The party that I belonged, the APC, there is someone they chose, and all of them don’t like him but are following him because the person deceives them with contracts. The issue is that two weeks ago, I and the Deputy Governor were in one church. Then Nsima Ekere came and said that he will open up a small road for that community in Oruk Anam. Nsima Ekere knelt down for everybody to pray for him since he wants to be governor in 2019, but the deputy governor and I knew who will be the governor in 2019, we did not join to pray for Nsima. The head pastor asked why I did not stand up to pray for others, and I said that I prayed but this is what I prayed.
‘While some others were praying that Nsima Ekere will be the governor in 2019, I prayed to my God as well. I called Jehovah 7 times, and He answered me, and I said please Lord do not answer what these people just prayed. And I said please God have you heard what I said and God said He has heard, He said, accepted, I should consider it done.
‘Today that I came, I came with these people, and they are many, and I commend the youths and those that helped me get here. I brought these people; I came from APC; APC does not have a candidate, I was the Director General of their Campaigns, and I know that their house is not in order because they forgot people who worked and laboured to make APC what it is.
‘We heard about the change, but the change turned out to be from frying pan to fire. At least let us come back to the frying pan, the umbrella is a very good symbol. For those who know geography, you know that there is something called Ozone layer, which is like the umbrella; but we discover that the way they use the broom, first of all not to sweep the floor but to clear the ozone layer, such that the sun that has come on us now is so unbearable. Apart from that, we discover what many people did not know; the broom is what witches carry.
‘’Recently, you outlawed cultism in the state. I expected you to outlaw witchcrafts, but it is like you spared the witches because their party is in control at the centre. But we wish that when you come back in the second term, you will do the needful. Continue what you are doing and since you are a person of peace. Let peace reign.”
An elated Governor Emmanuel commended the organizers, and the people of the five local government areas for the endorsement and the grand reception rally for him and his wife and advised those nursing ambitions for elective positions in 2019 to stick religiously to the zoning arrangements in the state. He advised the youths to sheathe their swords and embrace peace and unity for development to thrive.
The governor also used the occasion to reel out his stewardship, vision for the state and underlined some of his achievements in the old Abak division, and thanked his predecessor, lawmakers from the state, commissioners and other stakeholders for gracing the epochal occasion, disclosing that he had assured his predecessor that he would complete all projects his administration did not complete.
Governor Emmanuel thanked the political returnees and assured them of a level playing field, as according to him, their return to the PDP has shown that the opposition was dead in the state.