A member of the Board of Trustees of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party [PDP], Don Etiebet, has told interested candidates in the 2015 gubernatorial election in Akwa Ibom State to ignore death threats and focus their attention on campaigns for a free and fair elections in the state.
The incumbent governor, Godswill Akpabio, was quoted to have said that all aspirants in the governorship race in the state, who have not received his blessings to run, were doing so from the back door and deserved to die as traitors.
But delivering a lecture in Uyo on the topic “Democracy and the Challenge of Leadership”, at the 55th birthday celebration of Okon Umana, the former Secretary to the State Government and one of the aspirants in the 2015 governorship elections, Mr. Etiebet called on qualified and interested politicians from all parts of the state to feel free to contest for the party’s ticket.
The former Minister of Petroleum Resources under the Sani Abacha administration, however, asked politicians to rather focus their attention on ensuring that an open primary was held for the selection of the party’s flag bearer for the elections.
“Ignore threats that those who are not supported by the state governor will die because they are seeking power through the back door,” Mr. Etiebet said. “Go to the people who are the real front door and nobody will die. If anybody dies, we will find the killer.”
Mr. Etiebet recalled the history of how governorship candidates have always emerged in the states since the return of democracy in 1999, saying after the initial consensus agreement that produced the first flag bearer of the party, primary contests in Akwa Ibom PDP have always been open to all interested candidates.
A founding member of the Akwa Ibom PDP, Mr. Etiebet vowed to work with the national leadership of the party to provide a level-playing field for all aspirants at the party primary coming up in two months’ time in the state.
In his speech at the occasion, Mr. Umana reassured his supporters of his commitment to run an all-inclusive administration if elected into office, promising war against poverty, illiteracy and unemployment as the thrust of his administration’s policies.
Mr. Umana said he would balance investment in hard issues of physical infrastructure development against soft issues like health, education and security, with a pledge to pay special attention to human capital development.
Under his administration, Mr. Umana said any Akwa Ibom child, who made a first class in the university, would get automatic scholarship to graduate schools at Harvard, Stanford, Yale, IMT, Oxford, Cambridge and such other Ivy League institutions anywhere else in the world.
The immediate past commissioner for finance in the state and another PDP governorship aspirant, Bassey Albert, who also spoke at the occasion, pledged to work with Mr. Umana for the good of democracy in the state if need be.
Recalling that it was the bloc votes from Uyo Senatorial District that helped Mr. Akpabio from Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District to emerge victorious in 2006, Mr. Akapan said it was only fair that other senatorial districts support Uyo to produce the next governor of the state.
He criticised the application of the concept of zoning by some politicians agitating for the next governor to come from Eket Senatorial District, ostensibly for equity and justice, explaining that the fact that representatives of the state in all key federal appointments were from that zone invalidates that argument.
Mr. Akpan listed such appointees to include the Managing Director/CEO of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, ambassador, minister; member, Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, insisting Uyo senatorial district was actually the politically marginalised section in the state.