Okon Bassey in Uyo
Four days after his inauguration, the new All Progressive Congress (APC) Chairman of Akwa Ibom State, Hon. Ini Okopido, Wednesday performed his first public function by receiving defectors from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) into his party.
At a ceremony in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area of the state to welcome over 500 former members of the PDP into the APC, the new state APC chairman said the defection was the fruit of his labour having visited Mkpat Enin the previous month to persuade the people of the area to defect to the APC.
He commended Mkpat Enin people for joining the popular statewide movement to change the inept state government, stressing that the new members will be given equal opportunities in the APC as old members.
Among the defectors were Chief Martins Ikono (Matelbot), an oil mogul; Hon. Ubong Inyang, a former chairman of Mkpat Enin Local Government; and Prince Emmanuel Ekefre, a PDP chieftain.
Speaking on the defection, the leader of the defectors, Chief Martins Ikono, lauded the new APC state chairman, Okopido, for personally receiving them being his first official outing since his election last Saturday.
He said the defection with his supporters would greatly boost the chances of APC in the 2019 elections, as Mkpat Enin is one of the biggest local government areas in the state, having 14 wards, the highest number of wards in the state.
The former chairman of Mkpat Enin, Inyang, said PDP was depleting fast in Mkpat Enin with more PDP chieftains in the area joining in the defection.
On his part, Ekefre said he had resisted enormous pressure by PDP leaders in the last 24 hours not to defect because of the negative impact his defection would have on PDP in the area.
Dr. Inyang Dan-Abia, the APC Eket senatorial district chairman, commended Mkpat Enin people for embracing APC overwhelmingly and charged them to be steadfast.
Hon. Stephen Ntukekpo, the APC state youth leader who presented the defectors to the state APC leadership for acceptance, disclosed that many youth leaders across party lines had met and assured him they were all determined to send the “Lagosians” back to Lagos.
Otuekong Bernard Udoh, the Mkpat Enin APC leader, said the defectors were men of substance in their communities who had the capacity to help APC win elections, adding that APC did not need to campaign again in Mkpat Enin.
He thanked the new APC state chairman for making Mkpat Enin his first point of call after his election.
Prince Enobong Ufot, a former chairman of Ikot Abasi Local Government, said he was delighted that all the politicians that make things happen in Mkpat Enin are all in APC.
Okopido was accompanied on the visit by his deputy, Dr Ita Udosen, Cosmas Ibanga, the Ikot Ekpene APC senatorial district chairman, Mr. Okon Owoefiak, the state treasurer, Chief Sunny Ibanga, the welfare secretary and Mr. Inyang Udoh, the assistant legal adviser.