The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom State suffered another major setback on Saturday as it lost over 500 members to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ikono Local Government Area.
The mass defection in Ikono, generally regarded as the cradle of the Ibibio, Akwa Ibom’s largest ethnic group, is the latest in a series of defections that has hit the PDP in the state since the beginning of the year.
Among the defectors in Ikono were four former councillors, Iboro Akpan, Samuel Etuk, Ndifreke Essien and Jonathan Umana, a former PDP chapter secretary, Dr. George Udoh, a former University of Uyo official, Dr. Silas Udofia and a petroleum mogul, Sir Victor Etefia.
The event held at the Ikono local government headquarters, Ibiaku Ntok Okpo, was also used to inaugurate the APC local government chapter caucus and the ward stakeholders committee for the 11 wards and to inaugurate the new chapter office of the party.
In his remarks, the immediate past representative of Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Senator Aloysius Etok who described himself as the custodian of current political history of Ikono being the one who started PDP in Ikono, expressed joy that all the “real politicians” in the area were together in the APC.
He assured the APC in the state of bloc votes in Ikono in the 2019 elections because “the era of writing election results in Government House, Uyo, is over,” dismissing most of those still in Ikono PDP as lightweight and violent politicians with no grassroots support.
He also dismissed as false the claim by the PDP State Government that it had constructed 250 kilometres of roads in the state.
A former Member of the House of Representatives for Ikono/Ini federal constituency, Barr. Iquo Inyang commended the defectors and advised Ikono politicians still in PDP to abandon the party.
She lauded the anti-corruption war of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, saying it was the answer to the prayers of Nigerians who were impoverished by the mindless looting of the last PDP administration.
The Secretary-General of Ibibio Elders Forum and a leader of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Dr. Emmanuel Akpanobong regretted that Ikono people had nothing to show in terms of road infrastructure for all the years they supported the PDP in the state and expressed hope that the APC would bring progress and development to the area.
Barr. Imo Akpan, who spoke on behalf of the youths, described the rally as symbolic towards the march for change in 2019, declaring that Ikono people will set the political agenda for the state being the cradle of the Ibibio nation.
Receiving the defectors, Obong Uko Umoh, the State APC Vice
Chairman for Uyo Senatorial District who represented the State Chairman predicted that the PDP being heavily factionalized would fade away from Akwa Ibom politics in 2019 and charged the defectors to return to their wards to join existing APC members to preach the message of change.
Iboro Akpan, a former leader of Ikono Legislative Council, who spoke on behalf of the defectors, assured the APC of their total commitment and said he was making history after former President Olusegun Obasanjo as the second former PDP member to publicly shred his membership card.
Others who spoke at the event were the State APC Vice Chairman for Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, Obong Kufre Inyangette, his Eket Senatorial District counterpart, Emmanuel Oton, the Ikono APC Chapter Chairman, Elder Ubong Inyang, the Ikono APC Chapter Caucus Chairman, Engr. Godwin Akang and a former Ikono local government vice chairman, Barr. John Umoren.
The occasion was witnessed by dignatries within and outside Ikono including the Member for Ukanafun/Oruk Anam federal constituency in House of Representatives, Mr. Emmanuel Ukoette, a former House of Representatives Member for Ikot Ekpene federal Constituency, Mr. Patty Etete, former House of Assembly members, Dr. Clement Bassey, Obong Paul Owo and Engr. Akanimo Edet, a former commissioner, Barr. Austin Mbeh, the Special Assistant to the Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Otuekong Uyo Nathaniel, the Ikot Ekpene APC caucus chairman, Engr. Essien Ibok, a former chairman of PDP chapter chairmen in the state, Chief Sunny Ibanga, a former Ikono local government chairman, Sir Cosmas Ibanga and a former Ikono PDP chapter chairman, Victor Ukpem.