The man who directed the 2015 governorship campaign of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Akwa Ibom State, has defected to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The politician, Soni Udom, announced his defection on Friday in Abak during a ceremony organised by people from five local government areas – Abak, Ukanafun, Uruk Anam, Etim Ekpo, and Ika – to endorse Governor Udom Emmanuel’s aspiration to run for a second term in office.
Several other APC members, including ward chairmen and youth leaders, also defected to the PDP.
Top PDP leaders in the state, including Governor Emmanuel, the Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, and the state chairman of the party, Paul Ekpo, received Mr. Udom and others into the party.
Mr. Udom is a former chairman of a local government area and a former member of the House of Representatives.
Prior to 2015, he was a stalwart of the PDP before he left the party to join the APC in support of the governorship aspiration of a former Secretary to the Akwa Ibom State Government, Umana Umana.
He is from Oruk Anam Local Government Area, where the state chairman of the APC, Amadu Attai, is from. The governor’s wife, Martha Emmanuel, is also from that local government area.
“We heard about change, but the change turned out to be from frying pan to fire. At least, let us come back to the frying pan,” Mr. Udom said while announcing his defection.
His remark elicited laughter from Governor Emmanuel, Mr. Akpabio, other politicians and the crowd. Mr. Udom himself laughed so much almost choked.
The PDP national legal adviser, Emmanuel Enoidem, who was standing next to Mr. Udom on the podium, corrected the defector, saying he was coming back to stay under the umbrella (the symbol of the party), and not inside any frying pan.
Mr. Enoidem quickly brought out an umbrella and symbolically put it above Mr. Udom’s head.
“I am back to the umbrella,” Mr. Udom adjusted. “The umbrella is a very good symbol.”
He continued: “For those who know geography, you know that there is something called ozone layer, which the umbrella can cover; but we discover that the way they use the broom, first of all not to sweep the floor but to clear the ozone layer, such that the sun that has come on us now is so unbearable.
“Apart from that, we discover what many people did not know the broom is what witches carry,” he said.
Mr. Udom then turned and addressed the governor: “Recently, you outlawed cultism in the state. I expected you to outlaw witchcraft, but it is like you spared the witches because their party is in control at the centre. But we wish that when you come back in the second term, you will do the needful.”
Mr. Udom, in addition, said the APC does not have a governorship candidate for the 2019 election and that the party was going through internal crisis because, according to him, they had abandoned those who worked for it.
“They have forgotten Udoedehe, they have forgotten many people including me. That is why today, we are coming back here,” he said.
He said people whose interest was on how to get contracts were the only ones “following” the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Nsima Ekere.
Mr. Ekere, a former deputy governor of the state, is seen as a possible candidate of the APC in the 2019 governorship election in the state, although he has not declared his interest to contest it.
The APC said it was not surprised about Mr. Udom’s defection.
“We know that in politics anything can happen,” the party spokesperson, Edet Eyo, told PREMIUM TIMES, Saturday, in Uyo.
Mr. Eyo said the APC was “reliably informed” that Mr. Udom, being an architect, was owed money for some professional jobs he did for the state government during the administration of Godswill Akpabio and that the government used it to “coerce” him to return to the PDP.
“If between 2011 to date, a business, that is Soni Udom & Associates, is being owed N300 million, I wonder how you expect that kind of business to survive.
“If you are a family man, there’s an extent to which you can endure. When you can’t put food on your table, you can’t pay your children’s school fees, they will call you a useless husband. Soni Udom can no longer hold his own. The extent of his elasticity has gone beyond his control, and he succumbed to pressure.
“They promised to pay him. I guess they have even paid him part of the money and he is happy for it.
“What I want to caution is this: They say he who rides on the back of a tiger would somehow find himself in the belly of the tiger. Don’t forget it is this same Soni Udom that their gang of terrorists attempted to assassinate in 2014. But God was on his side, he escaped by the whiskers.
“We bear no grudge against Soni Udom, he has the right to join whichever party he wishes to,” the APC spokesperson said.