By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area in Akwa Ibom State on Wednesday played host to two parallel political rallies with each scheming to counter the other as 2019 general elections hit up.
While the ruling party in the state, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held its own at Ritman University playground to garner support for the party, the opposition, All Progress Congress (APC) held sway at Ikot Ekpene stadium where the former governor of the state, Chief Godswill Akpabio defected from PDP to APC.
Various speakers at each of the rallies including the national chairman of APC, Mr. Adams Oshiomole traded in words of war, berating another of no capacity to deliver on the expected democratic dividend which Nigerians yearned for.
At Ikot Ikpene stadium, Senator Godswill Akpabio said his decision to defect from Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to All Progress Congress, APC is for national interest
Akpabio who on the occasioned, was formally received into APC by the national chairman of the party said that in trouble time as Nigeria was currently going through, all hands must be on deck to salvage the country.
He said he decamped to APC to join hands with President Muhammadu Buhari to fight corruption in Nigeria, a malady that is seen as bane on the development of the country.
According to him, the country is in a period of National emergency and everybody should join hands with the President Buhari to bring out the country from the malady for the good of all and sundry.
Akpabio who defected to the party with the two commissioners sacked by the state government, two members of the House of Representatives and State House of assembly among others also said that his action was designed to link Akwa Ibom State to the centre.
He said he was a man of peace that had no case to answer with the Economic and Finance Crime Commission (EFCC) and called on the people of the state not to be afraid of President Buhari as Nigeria has not seen the best of him.
“People are saying why I defected to APC, some even called me a Traitor? You need to know tha I am a nationalist. In troubled times like this when the country is at war, all hands must be on deck to salvage the situation. This is a difficult moment for Nigeria. In a period of national emergency everybody should put hands together to support this government to bring peace to the people.
“I will like to be a Traitor who joins hands to conspire to put food on the table of Nigerians, to bring peace to Benue state, to stop the killings in our country, to ensure employment for our children, who bring about uncommon transformation for Nigerians.
“This is the moment of uncommon change, uncommon change has come to Akwa Ibom and South-South; uncommon change has come to the Niger Delta.
“Those petitions to EFCC have been sorted out. As I stand today, I have not been charged to court because nothing was found against me” he said.
At the other gathering, men, women and youths who converged on Ritman University playground in their large numbers, denounced Akpabio’s defection while also reaffirming their support to Governor Udom Emmanuel.
According Emmanuel Ibokessien, former deputy chief whip of the senate and founder of Ritman University, the resignation of Godswill Akpabio as senate minority leader was without the support of the people adding that his defection was a shameful act to the senatorial district especially the leaders of the PDP.
Ibokessien who was also the director general of Akpabio’s senatorial campaign expressed dismay that the former senate minority leader took the decision to defect without the courtesy of informing him and other political leaders of the senatorial district maintaining that the people have withdrawn the endorsement and the support they had earlier given to Akpabio.
“Udom Emmanuel will be given in 2019, not only Udom Emmanuel but all the PDP candidates in Akwa Ibom. I can never leave the PDP. I am appealing to all of you to remain in PDP. Since we heard that Akpabio was going to defect, it has been a shameful thing to us.
“But I am happy today because our people have been liberated from slavery. Out of the 54 appointments given to Ikot Ekpene Senatorial district, in this administration Ikot Ekpene local government got only five while Essien Udim where Akpabio come from got 34 appointments”
He maintained that Udom who is from Akwa Ibom south senatorial district of the state would serve for eight years since Akpabio from Ikot Ekpene senatorial district had also served for eight years.
Other speakers including serving commissioners like the commissioner for science and technology, Nse Essien and chairman of Ibom power company, Etido Inyang as well as Sunny Ibuot, former chairman of Ikot Ekpene Local government all denounced Akpabio’s defection.