The exodus from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom State worsened on Thursday with the defection of the immediate past House of Representatives Member for Ikot Ekpene Federal Constituency, Barr. Saviour Udoh, and over 800 members of the party in Obot Akara Local Government Area to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Other defectors included a former State Commissioner for Special Duties, Dr. Nnana Mbaba, a Japan-based businessman, Prince Oto-Obong Otoro (Infinity), a former Obot Akara local government secretary, Dr. Udo Udo Okonna, a former PDP Obot Akara Chapter Secretary, Mr. Saviour Akpan Umoh, a former Chairman of PDP ward chairmen in the area, Mr. Monday Ukonta, and a seasoned legal practitioner, Barr. Paul Udo.
Receiving the defectors at Nto Edino, the Obot Akara local government headquarters, the APC Chairman for Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District, Obong Kufre Inyangette, assured them of equal rights in the party with old members but urged them to return to their wards to formally register with the APC.
Inyangette, who also used the occasion to inaugurate the chapter and ward caucuses of the party in Obot Akara, dismissed reports of factionalization of the APC in the state, insisting that the party remained one under the leadership of the State Chairman, Dr. Amadu Attai.
The Obot Akara APC Caucus Chairman and one-time Member of the House of Representatives, Abom Tony Esu, pledged the resolve of the party leadership in the area to build the party to a vote-winning machine and thanked party leaders from far and near for coming to solidarize with them.
The Obot Akara APC Elders Forum Chairman and former State Commissioner for Transport, Barr. Austin Mbeh, said the event, which attracted thousands of APC members from the 10 wards of Obot Akara showcased the combat-readiness of the APC in the area for the 2019 elections and marked the burial of PDP in Obot Akara.
He said the PDP with its hydra-headed national leadership had no chance of survival in Nigeria.
The Obot Akara APC Chapter Chairman, Chief Iton Isonguyo, lauded the Managing Director of Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority, Mr. Umana Umana, for giving direction and strength to the party in 2015 and for championing the zoning of the APC governorship seat to Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District in 2019.
He also commended the Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. Nsima Ekere, for standing firm behind Umana during and after the last elections.
A former Chairman of the local government, Mr. Tiebet Joshua, lauded the defectors for following Obot Akara’s tradition of not playing opposition politics in the country.
Speaking on behalf of the defectors, Barr. Saviour Udoh, who was also a Special Adviser to former Governor Godswill Akpabio on Co-operative Development, promised to join hands with the old members to ensure APC’s victory in Obot Akara, adding that they left PDP because they could not remain in a vehicle that had completely broken down.
Also speaking, Dr. Nnana Mbaba, a retired academic, predicted that the APC would sweep all elections in Obot Akara in 2019 because they were coming with the same zeal and vision they used to deliver PDP in the past.
Among the personalities present at the event were four former Members of the House of Representatives, Mr. Patty Etete Ineme, Dr. Akpan Micah Umoh, Obong Emmanuel Obot and Sir Emmanuel Ekpenyong (Tempo), two former House of Assembly Members, Dr. Etido Ibekwe and Engr. Akanimo Edet, a former Commissioner for Economic Development, Prof. Chris Ekong, a retired permanent secretary, Dr. Okon Udoidiok, the Ikot Ekpene APC Caucus Chairman, Engr. Essien Ibok, a former PDP State Woman Leader, Princess Victoria Mel-Udoh, a former Chairman of PDP Chapter Chairmen, Chief Sunny Ibanga, a political leader in Ika, Mr. Ini Okopido, and the Publisher of Global Concord newspaper, Mr. Thomas Thomas.