Governor Emmanuel, is doing well and you want to remove him and expect Senator Etang Umoyo to join you in the feast?
Joe Effiong, Uyo
Senator Etang Umoyo is a founding member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Esit, Eket council and frontline advocate for power shift to Eket senatorial district as far back as 2012. He is a politician who follows his rule book in politics religiously even in the face of scathing criticisms. He disclosed why he defected from the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Why did you defect from the APC?
APC in Akwa Ibom today is a gathering of the vultures. I left APC for reasons more than one. The first one is that there are people causing disaffection within the party because of their governorship aspirations. They undermine the structure of the party in all the councils by sponsoring surrogates to erect parallel structures and cause confusion. In my local government area, they have found ready surrogates who they use to destabilise the party by supplanting some of the ward and chapter officers
of APC. The second reason is the recent defection of some persons into the party. Their defection to APC is a bad omen for the party in Akwa Ibom. According to an old man in my village, Chief Ben Akpanekong of blessed memory, their defection is like carrying a live snake in one’s pocket. I want to assure you that very soon; politicians of substance in Akwa Ibom will leave APC in droves. They forced us to leave the PDP because of their impunity and now they have crossed over to APC with the same spirit. The spirit of imposing candidates on the party, handpicking of party officers at the state, local government and ward levels, destroying of young and upwardly mobile politicians so that no one has the capacity to challenge them. Already, Emmanuel Ekon and Emmanuel Akpan, both members of the House of Representatives as well as Gabriel Toby and Nse Ntuen of the Akwa
Ibom State House of Assembly are looking up to their godfather to impose them as candidates of APC for the 2019 elections. So, what happens to members of the party who laboured over the years to put in place APC structures in their local government areas?
The ceremony marking my official exit from the All Progressives Party (APC) will be held soon in my community. You will recall that when I moved to APC in 2017, I did so officially in my community. So, my return to PDP will follow that tradition.
What do you make of APC’s recent war chant?
It is stating the obvious that Akwa Ibom people have risen against the war chant by the APC. Akwa Ibom has always been a very peaceful state. On the 2019 poll, I want APC members to know that Akwa Ibom people will resist their rigging plot and Governor Udom Emmanuel will be re-elected. We know their plots and antics.
Why are you supporting the governor now because it is on record that he did not receive your support as the candidate of PDP in 2015?
I did not support Governor Udom Emmanuel because I hate him, no. What happened was that the process that threw him up did not align with my principles, rules and guidelines of the PDP. I mentioned that to him when he came to consult me. However, having emerged as the governor of Akwa Ibom, I had to accord him the necessary respect and recognition as the father of all us, but I took a walk from PDP in 2017 because of the way the former governor influenced certain decisions. Now, Governor Emmanuel, from my assessment and the consensus of opinions in Akwa Ibom and beyond, is doing well and you want to remove him and expect Senator Etang Umoyo to join you in the feast? No, I would not do that. My politics is defined by principles.
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So, as a stakeholder in the Akwa Ibom project and a firm believer in the postulation of Plato, which says that ‘the price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men,’ I join millions of Akwa Ibom people to endorse Governor Udom Emmanuel for a second term.
What do you make of the plot to scuttle Emmanuel’s second term by some politicians in the APC?
The build up to the re-election of every governor in Akwa Ibom since 2003 has always been turbulent, but at the end, they always prevail. You would recall that in 2003, Senator Akpanudoedehe, Mr. Inibehe Okori, Benji Okoko, Ufot Ekaette, who was then the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Atuekong Don Etiebet, then the national chairman of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) moved against Obong Victor Attah, but at the end, Akwa Ibom people prevailed against them. The same thing happened in 2011, when Akpabio was running for a second term, yet he prevailed. So, Governor Udom Emmanuel will surely prevail against his adversaries. But beyond that, the current plot is aimed at disgracing an Ibibio man from Eket Senatorial District by Senator Akpabio, the same way the late Senator Victor Akan used the late Donald Etiebet to stop Dr. Clement Isong’s re-election in 1983, but
I thank God that Akwa Ibom people have seen through the shenanigans. If what happened in 1983 was a mistake, it would be a decision and a norm if it happens again in 2019. When you consider the facts surrounding Governor Udom Emmanuel’s emergence, you would agree with me that this is a plot to disgrace another Ibibio man from Eket Senatorial District. This was a career banker who was doing very well on his job. He did not come to Akwa Ibom to lobby for any political appointment. Everything was done for Udom to take over Akwa Ibom in 2015. So, the entire thing is a calculated attempt to disgrace an Ibibio man from Eket Senatorial District. However, I want to thank the people of Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, particularly Chief Michael Afangide, for standing up to be counted at a time like this. They all know that 12 years from today, they will come to Eket Senatorial District to seek our support for their son to become a governor.
You were the leading advocate for power shift to Eket Senatorial, but we have not seen much of you in that direction currently?
It is not in doubt that I was at the forefront of the advocacy for power shift to Eket Senatorial District as far back as 2011. That was a time Akpabio could not even talk about power shift to Eket Senatorial District because of his alleged promise to make Obong Umana Okon Umana his successor. I formed the Eket Senatorial District Forum and on Monday, January 23, 2012, the Forum took pages in two national newspapers to present its position on the 2015 governorship race. We captured the need to sustain
the zoning arrangement in the state. The Forum also responded to the claim of Uyo Senatorial District Elders’ Council that since the advent of democratic dispensation in Akwa Ibom, the position of the governor has never been zoned to any senatorial district. To add steam to the advocacy, I published a local tabloid and went to Akwa Ibom Convention in the USA where I gave a lecture on the need
to maintain the zoning arrangement in the state. The advocacy gained support and Akpabio drew huge strength from it. There was a day he called me on the phone to express his appreciation to my advocacy and I thanked him for believing in our conviction. I was steadfast to my conviction and turned down financial gift by one of the governorship aspirants from Uyo Senatorial District. He came to my house in Ewet housing and after his consultation gave me $20,000. He said it was part of the consultation, but I told him that I would not accept the money, but would take other items.
What would be your advice to Governor Emmanuel as the battle begins?
I have read somewhere in the newspapers by some analysts that Senator Akpabio maintains a cordial working relationship with Governor Udom Emmanuel and I ask, to what extent and what is the value of the so called cordial working relationship? This is politics and in this game, when the battle line is drawn, you do not make peace with your enemy. Before I answer your question, I plead for the understanding of Akwa Ibom people, should my suggestion appear hash, it was Karl Marx, who said that in certain situations, one has to ‘use diamond to cut diamond, because politics in our clime requires that you put everything into the ring.’ I would advice Governor Udom Emmanuel to set up a judicial panel of enquiry or Truth Commission to look into the killings and kidnappings in Akwa Ibom State. In the end, families of victims should be compensated. I would also advice the governor to set up a judicial panel to look into abandoned projects dotting the skyline of the state. The panel would look into the process of award of each contract, funds released, percentage of work done and why the projects were abandoned.