By Emmanuel Uffot.
Against the backdrop of the mammoth crowd that greeted the flag off of the People’s Democratic Party,PDP, presidential campaign in Sokoto state ,the heart land of , All Progressive Congress,APC, and the seat of the Caliphate, the APC we gathered decided on the oil rich akwa Ibom state to also make a statement that the APC has made a breakthrough in the price state.
…sources reveal that that Godswill Akpabio, a former governor of the state and one of the Senators representing the state whose defection to APC was seen as a big catch.
As at the time he defected to the party, he was the PDP Minority Leader but was promised of being made the majority leader if the defection train was not halted by the APC lawmakers decision to sheath their long drawn sword to change the leadership of the National Assembly. Political watchers were said to have master minded the APCs decision to flag off the Presidential Campaign in akwa Ibom. It was said to have received the blessing of the party leadership when the idea was mooted allegedly by senator akpabio.
Again the party in agreeing on the choice took into consideration the fact that akwa Ibom state where akpabio was governor in 2015 election gave Jonathan close to a million votes. And the high figure many agreed was due to the political dexterity and mobilisation prowess of the then governor akpabio.
In fact the thinking within the party hierarchy was that If akpabio could mobilise such votes to PDP then he could do same for APC.
The party leadership as gathered were convinced by the assurance from APC chieftains from the state that with akpabio as the arrow head mobilising a large crowd for the rally which they will do will make a strong statement about APC inroad into the strong PDP state just like Atiku rally did in sokoto state which prompted a bewildered Nasir El-El-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state to claim that PDP imported the crowd From neighbouring Niger
.Indeed this same claim has since been bandied by the PDP stakeholders. They have also accused the APC of importing rented crowd not only from the 31 local government areas of the state but from neighbouring Cross river and Abia States.
They alleged that substantial funds provided by the trio of Nsima Ekere managing director of Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and the APC governorship candidate in Akwa Ibom,Umana Umana, Managing director of Oil and Gas free trade zone and Akpabio to successfully mobilise crowd from the neighbouring Cross River and Abia states for the Presidential flags off Campaign.
But Eseme Eyibio,the APC presidential campaign director in the state dismissed the claim that the crowd at the rally were rented.He insisted that the crowd was a true reflection of the acceptability of the party in state which has been a stronghold of PDP for 16 years.
Eyibio said PDP’s claim signifies the party’s fear of their pending defeat in the coming election. The APC Presidential Campaign Director’s assertion has been pooh-pooh by PDP Chieftains and supporters in the state as a mere dream which will end as such.
They reasoned that though they are not unmindful of the fact that senator Akpabio was muscled to defect to APC with a marching order to deliver the state to the ruling APC by all means, they believe the party does not have the feasible structures on ground to challenge PDP in the coming general election despite parading the likes of akpabio, Ekere, Umana, Senator Ita Enang, Senior Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Affairs and Don Etiebet, former Secretary of Petroleum Resources, most of them they described as paper tigers.
Again PDP has claimed their awareness of an alleged plot by akpabio and the APC Chieftains to disrupt the election in the state if it does not go their way.
They said they are not losing sleep over the matter as the people will resist such evil plot. The PDP allegation of APC plot to cause violence in the state was earlier sounded by Udom Emmanuel, of the state during the heat of the state House assembly crisis.Udom had accused his predecessor of planning to cause trouble in the state.
Instructively the relationship between Akbabio and Udom, the state governor has been frosty in the recent times. Although , Akabio’s grouse with the state governor began to manifest some months ago when the former governor accused his successor of neglecting his Constituency and abandoning some key projects like the Uyo-Ikot Ekpene road and the 3-Star Hotel in Ikot Ekpene.
But governor Udom insists that he has done everything possible to satisfy Akpabio but he would never be contented with it.
The recent attempts by the wife of Akpabio to embarrass the Udom’s wife when the First Lady, Aisha Buhari visited the state last month was a manifestation of the deep animosity between the hitherto god father and godson. However for political watchers in the state and beyond, 2019 election will be a battle royal between Akpabio of the APC and Udom of the PDP for control of the Niger state.