A former Commissioner for Finance in Akwa Ibom State, and former ally of Governor Godswill Akpabio, has said he does not need Mr. Akpabio’s endorsement to contest the governorship election in the state.
Bassey Akpan said Wednesday he needs the endorsement of Akwa Ibom people who he said massively supported Mr. Akpabio to emerge as governor in 2007 even when the odds were against him.
Mr. Akpan said, “I don’t think I need the governor’s endorsement. I need the endorsement of the Akwa Ibom people.”
The former finance commissioner, who was fielding questions from PREMIUM TIMES in Abuja said while Mr. Akpabio failed to get the endorsement of the then Governor, Victor Attah, the people stood firm and ensured he won not only the nomination but the governorship election.
“In 2006, the people of Akwa Ibom State stood for hours and days to bring Governor Akpabio to office despite the fact that the incumbent at that time had preference to a particular candidate,” Mr. Akpan said.
“As a human being, the governor has the right to support an aspirant but what we are asking for is that the people should have the liberty to decide who they want.
“My prayer is that the God that did it for Godswill Akpabio in 2006 despite the fact that Governor Attah preferred Udoma Ekarika will do it for Obong Bassey come 2015.”
In order to move the state to the next level, Mr. Akpan insisted that Akwa Ibom State requires a governor with high level of integrity, intellect, strong values and experience.
Having served as finance commissioner and head of the state’s economic team for seven years, the former banker said he has what it takes to bring sustainable development to Akwa Ibom State.
He, however, lamented the increasing level of poverty and tribalism in the state, noting that unless these were properly tackled, it would be difficult for any meaningful development to be achieved in the state.
Mr. Bassey said Governor Akpabio has achieved so much for Akwa Ibom State during the last seven years, adding that since he was part of the administration, it was not possible for him to criticize it.
“Whether you like it or not, Godswill Akpabio has done well. Don’t ask me at what cost. I want to say that he has done very well and I have been a part of that system.
“I might not be in the best position to criticize the system but I am in the best position to move the system to the next level,” Mr. Akpan said.
Mr. Akpan said he is a unifying force and would work with others in the state to bring the people together.
“Never in the history of Akwa Ibom have we witnessed this level of ethnicity and tribalism in politics,” said Mr. Akpan.
“I had thought that Governor Akpabio’s election in 2007 exterminated tribalism and ethnicity because there was no way an Ibibio man like me could have become the commissioner for finance to an Anang governor.
Unfortunately, due to the politics of transition, we have virtually resorted to tribalism in a greater dimension.
“But I see myself as that central force of unity in the state because I am loved and accepted to the man in Oron, Anang and everywhere.
“My prayer is for God to give us a governor who would further unite the state because without unity we cannot grow and without growth, one cannot say there is development.
“This is my opportunity and I am here. I will be declaring by next week Thursday where we will formally tell Akwa Ibom populace what we intend to do for them,” Mr. Akpan said.
He called on the national leadership of the PDP to provide a level-playing field for all those interested in contesting its primaries, saying that only through free and fair primaries will competent persons emerge.