By Okon Bassey in Uyo
Akwa Ibom State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been divided over the choice of the party governorship candidate for the 2019 general election as some of the leaders warned that there was no zoning of elective offices in the party.
This is coming three days after the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Obong Nsima Ekere was presented with the governorship nomination and expression of interest form by leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state to contest the governorship election.
Others prominent elders of the party have protested against any attempt by the hierarchy of the party to be partisan in the selection of the flag bearer of the party for the forthcoming governorship race in the state.
Leaders of the APC across the three senatorial districts of the state had at a solidarity rally organised by the people of Akwa Ibom South (Eket) Senatorial District last Tuesday to persuade the NDDC boss to go for the governorship race in the state.
Led by Chief Don Etiebet at the rally, they urged Obong Ekere to resign from his NDDC job that they had okayed him for the state 2019 governorship race under the platform of the APC.
Though the party is yet to settle on either direct primary or consensus candidate, Etiebet had added that the party was convinced with Obong Ekere, APC would win the governorship election in the state.
But last Thursday, other chieftains of the party in the state led by Group Capt. Sam Ewang (rtd) and Senator John Akpanudoedehe disapproved the said endorsement of the NDDC boss saying such move was to sideline them in the governorship election.
Ewang who was a former military administrator of Rivers and Ondo States, and Senator Akapanudoedehe, a former Federal Minister said the party should be neutral in the selection of its governorship candidate in the state.
The duo from Uyo Senatorial District with interest to contest the governorship race, said they were speaking on behalf of the 31 chapter chairmen and 329 ward chairmen of the party saying the hierarchy should not think of imposing governorship candidate on the party.
Speaking in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, they vowed to frustrate APC in the state if a level playing field was not given to all contestants of elective positions as earlier agreed during the stakeholders meeting held few weeks ago in the state.
“The situation is that the elders under the leadership of Chief Don Etiebet sat down few weeks ago and agreed on one, that the APC in Akwa Ibom State will use direct primaries where every member of the party will be given the opportunity to select who will be the governorship candidate. Therefore, the direct primaries announced by the State Working Committee must be upheld.
“According to the party constitution there is no zoning. Unfortunately, some of us have discovered that some leaders and elders particularly those who have flowed into the APC from PDP after presidential election of 2015 have decided to destroy the party by bringing impunity into the party.
“And we have decided with the 31 chapter chairmen and 329 ward chairmen of APC to resist their disastrous moves including the claim that the national party has anointed Nsima Ekere as the only governorship candidate out of so many other aspirants when there have not been primaries.
“We doubt that their claim came from the national leadership of the party, however, if it came from them we wish to advise that such arrangement will never be acceptable by the people.
“But if they insist they should know that the APC in Akwa Ibom is finished because it is unacceptable and a betrayal of the trust of the people and will be rejected in every ramification.
“It is unfortunate, the respect we thought we could give Chief Don Etiebet by making him the leader of the party in the state, we now discovers that he cannot hold grounds for the people.” they stressed.
They, however pledged to support the re-election campaign of president Muhammadu Buhari despite the bad politicking in Akwa Ibom state chapter of the party.