Key stakeholders in Akwa Ibom State who were also loyalists of a former Governor of the state, Senator Godswill Akpabio, were glaringly missing as he declared for the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Wednesday at Ikot Ekpene, his senatorial zone.
The former Senate Minority Leader was until his defection the political leader of the PDP in the state and an icon to several political enthusiasts in the state.
His surprise move to APC has created a political reshuffle in the state thereby draining his primary cult following and stripping him of his leadership status as state leaders, stakeholders and his former loyalists believed he has betrayed them and bowed to external pressure.
Akpabio’s defection has altered the political balance of Akwa Ibom but surely not to his favor. His predecessor and current political enemy, former Akwa Ibom Governo,r Victor Obong Attah, currently holds the APC state structure in Akwa Ibom, a structure that was cemented when Udoma Bob Ekarika, Ubong Attah’s son in law was sworn in as the state party chairman in May 2018.
The former gubernatorial flag bearer of the party, Umana Okon Umana, who served as a Finance Commissioner under Obong Attah and as Secretary to the State Government to Akpabio for six years was his mo speculated successor before Akpabio sacked him and brought the present Governor Udom Emmanuel to replace him as the SSG. Umana and Akpabio fell out and Umana contested for the office under the APC and currently has a strong alliance with Attah.
Another rival Akpabio may contend with is the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Nsima Ekere, whom Akpabio picked as his deputy Governor in 2011 before the duo fell out. With only 17 months and two days in office, Mr. Ekere has had the shortest tenure as deputy governor in Nigeria’s history.
Ekere still went ahead to purchase the PDP nomination form in 2014 and contested the primaries which he lost to Udom, who was anointed by Akpabio. Nsima later struck a truce with Umana in 2015.
The poser is, will Akpabio, superintend over Attah, Nsima Ekere, Umana Umana and Udoma Bob Ekarika as the leader of the party in the state?
However, to prove that his defection to the APC was not welcomed by the state chapter, only two commissioners from Governor Emmanuel Udom’s cabinet met him at the airport on his arrival into Uyo as other commissioners continued with their meeting with the state governor to keep the oil rich state on track.
One of the two commissioners who decamped with him is his own brother, Ibanga Akpabio, Commissioner for Labour and Power. who Udom appointed to appease his former boss.
Most of the few decampees are from Akpabio’s Ikot Ekpene federal constituency consisting of three Local Governments. Another from his senatorial zone is Honorable Emmanuel Ekon who is embroiled in personal battles and has lost grip of PDP stakeholders in his constituency.
Akpabio’s defection may have been shocking to say the least but for a man who built a political career by making enemies instead of friends in his home state, the impact of his defection will be rarely felt.
Nsude wrote in from Uyo