The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader in Nsit Atai of Akwa Ibom State, Prince Sunny Elijah, has defied last-minute pressure from Governor Udom Emmanuel to defect to the All Progressives Congress (APC), at a grand rally attended by Senator Godswill Akpabio and other APC chieftains in the state.
Elijah, a grassroots politician rejoined PDP in August, last year, at the prompting of Governor Emmanuel, after his disagreement with some Nsit Atai APC leaders over the local government chairmanship nomination, but he returned to APC on Monday, in spite of pleas from the governor.
On getting wind of Elijah’s impending defection last week, Emmanuel was said to have sent five of his commissioners to lure him to the house of a multimillionaire cement dealer and staunch supporter of the governor, at Osongama Estate, in Uyo, where they begged him to remain in PDP with an immediate cash offer of N5 million and other promises.
Prince Elijah, who rejected the offers defected to the APC with his wife and immediate past House of Assembly member for Nsit Atai, Mrs Sarah Elijah, another former House of Assembly member, Obong Asuquo Darby Udo, a former local government chairman, Prince Sunny Ossom, a serving supervisor, 40 PDP ward executive members, former PDP chapter chairmen, former councillors and thousands of other supporters.
Addressing the rally at Odot, the council headquarters, Prince Elijah dismissed the PDP as a party full of contractors and lightweight politicians.
He criticised the PDP leadership for allegedly breaking the longstanding zoning arrangement, by giving the incumbent House of Assembly member a second term ticket.
He hailed the APC for picking its House of Assembly candidate, Princess Blessing Osom, from the Afaha group of villages and called on Nsit Atai people to support all candidates of the party in the 2019 elections.
Mrs Elijah, Obong Udo and Prince Ossom, who also spoke called PDP a deceitful party and said they were joining APC to bury PDP in Nsit Atai.
Ini Okopido, the State chairman of APC, who received the defectors, said they were entitled to all rights and privileges with old members.
Akpabio, the immediate past state governor, said with the defection of Elijah, all the generals of Nsit Atai politics are now in APC.
He commended Nsit Atai APC members for being peaceful and for not retaliating the destruction of campaign billboards of Obong Nsima Ekere, the APC governorship candidate located within their area on the Airport Road, by suspected PDP agents.
He reeled out what President Buhari had done for Akwa Ibom and criticised the state government for refusing to embrace the Anchor Borrower’s agricultural scheme of the Federal Government.
The APC deputy governorship candidate, Amadu Attai, who represented Obong Nsima Ekere, said the prophecy of Senator Akpabio, that PDP will collapse in Akwa Ibom by December 2018, was being fulfilled with the continuing defection from the PDP all over the state.
Group Captain Sam Ewang (retd), a former military administrator of Rivers State, said he was overwhelmed by the number of defectors as he had counted up to 10,000 persons, adding that with their coming, Nsit Atai is completely APC.
Meanwhile, the state government has warned neighbouring states and other states of the federation to stop turning the state into a dumping ground for lunatics.
Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Welfare, Gloria Edet, who gave the warning yesterday, said a large chunk of her ministry’s budget has been depleted through evacuation, treatment and
rehabilitation of lunatics dumped in the state from other states of the federation.
Edet said more than 80 percent of lunatics evacuated, treated and rehabilitated through her ministry were non-indigenes.
“We appeal to other states to stop dumping lunatics in Akwa Ibom,” she said.