The electoral fortunes of Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State in his clan, Awa, in Onna Local Government Area, further dwindled as his kinsman and governorship aspirant, Archbishop Samuel Akpan, joined forces with the governor’s main opponent in the 2019 governorship election and Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Obong Nsima Ekere.
Last year, the governor suffered the defection of his maternal cousins, Messer Kingsley Uffang and Valentine Uffang, who led many others from his village, Awa Iman, to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
At a rally in his village, Abak Ishiet, attended by members of his political organization and drawn from the 31 local government areas and 329 wards in the state, Akpan announced his withdrawal from the APC governorship race and expressed support for Ekere.
The grassroots mobiliser said he was stepping down to team up with Ekere and other APC leaders to “correct the mistakes Akpabio made in 2015.”
Akpan, a former State Deputy Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Special Adviser on Political and Legislative Affairs to former Governor Godswill Akpabio, advised Governor Emmanuel, not to seek re-election because he stood no chance of winning.
“There is nothing left again in PDP. I have come to send a message to my junior brother and my friend, Emmanuel, that he should not contest that election because he will not win. I am talking today, as the leader of this community where we (he and Emmanuel) come from, that Udom can’t win this
Tell Udom that he will not win,” he said.
Akpan warned that Akwa Ibom State could not afford to remain in opposition to the federal government, adding that “when we work together with the Federal Government, with their resources, we shall bring more benefits to our people.”
He criticised the governor’s slow pace of road construction especially the road from Etinan to Onna.
“A governor does not need eight years to do a road from Etinan to Awa in Onna. Obong Nsima Ekere will do that road to the front of Governor Emmanuel’s house to show you that he is a good man,” he said.
Akpan recalled his political journey with Ekere from 1997 when they were elected to the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and vowed to give his all to sell Ekere’s candidacy.
“Ekere is the product that I am now selling. I am the marketer. He is the product. He is the product of Akwa Ibom State and he will not disappoint anybody. I will now move to the streets to start the marketing.”
Responding, Ekere thanked Akpan for the support and pledged to integrate members of the organisation, which he described as a robust political organisation into his campaign structure.
“I give you my assurance. Together, we will work. Together, we will win. Together, we will govern,” he said.
He promised the people of the area that contract for the construction of Afaha Ubium – Nung Oku – Abak Ishiet – Ikot Obong Road, which is in the current NDDC budget, will soon be awarded to a competent contractor who will speedily execute and complete it.
“That is the new spirit of NDDC. Today, we no more have abandoned projects. Most projects are either ongoing or completed,” he said.