The exodus from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’in Akwa Ibom State continued on Thursday with the defection of thousands of its members to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ibeno and Esit Eket Local Government Areas.
The PDP lost over 1,500 members in Ibeno and over 2,700 members in Esit Eket during the APC’s campaign rallies in the two local government areas.
The Ibeno defectors led by Comrade Maurice Okon, a popular youth leader, included some former APC members who said they were returning after being lured to the PDP with fake promises to support Governor Udom Emmanuel for a second term by a former House of Assembly member from the area.
Receiving the Ibeno defectors, Dr Ita Udosen, the Akwa Ibom State APC Deputy Chairman, assured them of equal rights and privileges with old members of the party.
Mr Ini Okopido, the APC State Chairman, who received the Esit Eket defectors, said it was clear that Esit Eket has turned completely APC, comparing the thousands of defectors from the PDP to the three APC members that left for PDP last week
He noted with delight that the defectors included many PDP ward executives and members of the PDP Grassroots Foundation led by Mr Samuel Edet.
Mr Edet, Prince John Ekpo and Engr Messianic Umana, who spoke on behalf of the defectors, assured the APC state leadership that the PDP had no place in Esit Eket again.
In his remarks, Obong Nsima Ekere, the APC Governorship Candidate in Akwa Ibom State, said he was convinced that Esit Eket people will vote for all APC candidates in the elections and thanked party leaders in the area for working hard to connect Esit Eket to the mainstream of Nigerian politics.
He echoed last week’s call by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s to Akwa Ibom people not to play opposition politics again.
Obong Ekere noted that nearly the entire political class in the state was behind him after abandoning Governor Udom Emmanuel because of his poor performance.
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Barr Bassey Dan-Abia, the Esit Eket APC leader, whose nephew and former House of Representatives member for Eket Federal Constituency, Barr Bassey Dan-Abia Jnr, was among the three APC defectors last week, said, contrary to some social media reports, it was the PDP, not the APC, that was suffering mass defection.
“I assure you that despite the propaganda of massive defection in the social media, as at today, not a single executive member of APC has defected to anywhere. Rather, it is PDP ward executive members that are defecting to APC. In some wards, the entire PDP executive has collapsed into APC because of Obong Nsima Ekere,” he said.
Barr Dan-Abia, who finished second in the 2018 APC governorship primary, lauded Obong Ekere for reconciling and carrying along his three fellow contestants after the primary.
He disclosed that there was consensus across party lines in Eket Federal Constituency, where Governor Emmanuel is from, that he should go, having disappointed the people of the four component local government areas of Eket, Esit Eket, Ibeno and Onna.
Barr Bassey Essien, a former Speaker of the State House of Assembly, said they were supporting Obong Ekere because he had long identified with them in Esit Eket unlike Governor Emmanuel who was never part of them.
“Udom is going. He was never part of us. He had no friend in this community. You are one of us. You are a friend we have known for years. We will not disappoint you and we are sure you will not disappoint us. We are awaiting your swearing in on your birthday on May 29, 2019,” he said.
Elder Ibanga Etang, the APC campaign coordinator in Esit Eket, apologized to his people for bringing and selling Governor Emmanuel to them as local government chairman in 2015.
He promised Obong Ekere a clean sweep of Esit Eket’s over 47,000 votes in the 57 units of the area.
Mr Eseme Eyiboh, a former House of Representatives member, and Mr Augustus Nkuseyin, the Esit Eket APC chapter chairman, spoke along the same line.
The rally featured the presentation of flags by the APC State Chairman to Senator Nelson Efiong, Mr Kufre Akpabio and Mr Eyo Inyang-Abia Bassey, the APC Senate, House of Representatives and House of Assembly candidates, respectively.