In what might become a showdown between estranged allies, a former deputy governor of Akwa Ibom State, Nsima Ekere, has joined the race for Governor Godswill Akpabio’s coveted seat at the Hilltop Mansion, Uyo, defying Mr. Akpabio’s threat that only he could anoint a candidate.
Mr. Ekere picked the PDP’s nomination form Wednesday, his associates say.
Mr. Akpabio has insisted on fielding only the immediate past Secretary to the State Government, Udom Emmanuel, whom he backs. Mr. Emmanuel resigned his position last week to enable him declare for the top job.
Governor Akpabio had warned that other Peoples Democratic Party, PDP’s candidate for the governorship position would be considered traitors who deserve to die.
Mr. Akpabio also insisted that the governorship of the state has been zoned to Eket senatorial district and that he (Mr. Akpabio) alone has the power anoint the candidate.
Apparently, to send a warning to aspirants in the state, thugs were unleashed on a former first lady and serving senator from the state, Helen Esuene, when she went on a campaign to Essien Udim Local Government Area last week.
Essien Udim LGA is Mr. Akpabio’s hometown.
The thugs seized the female lawmaker’s phones, overturned her table and manhandled her and some of her aides, witnesses said.
Before chasing Ms. Esuene’s campaign train away, the thugs told the former first lady that no aspirant is permitted to campaign in Essien Udim since Mr. Akpabio has already anointed the SSG.
But Mr. Ekere, a leading politician in the state on Wednesday dared his former principal by picking the PDP’s nomination form.
The former deputy governor also picked the expression of interest form at the PDP’s headquarters, Wadata House, Abuja, with a pledge to implement a four-point agenda for the development of the state.
According to Mr. Ekere, the four-point agenda involves education and people’s development, economic prosperity, health and social welfare as well as rural development.
He said, “I plan to pursue with great urgency, four critical projects with massive economic potentials for the state.”
“These are the Ibaka Deep Seaport with an attached Industrial Park, the Ibom International Airport conceived as a major cargo and maintenance facility serving Nigeria and the African region, the Ibom Medical Complex, a regional centre of medical excellence and the Ibom International Market to complement the Seaport, Airport and the IT Park considering the heavy volume of trade and commerce they are expected to generate in the state.”
Mr. Ekere promised to make Akwa Ibom the innovation capital of Nigeria by establishing an Entrepreneurship Incubation Centre which will create a system where the government becomes an enabler of dreams.
He insisted that the 2015 polls would be a defining moment and a referendum on the state’s future and called for a new thinking on the part of the electorate, to shape the direction of governance over the next four years and beyond.
“I am convinced, more than ever, that I represent the best choice for the party at this critical stage in the history of our great state,” Mr. Ekere said.