A leading governorship aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Akwa Ibom State, Umanah Umanah, says he has concluded plans to defect to the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC.
Mr. Umanah served as the Akwa Ibom Secretary to the State Government, SSG, until July 2013 when he resigned his appointment to pursue his ambition to succeed his boss come 2015.
However, after his resignation and declaration, it became clear that he did not have the support of his former boss, who has since made his preferred candidate in the race known to the people of the state.
Apart from his interest to see his successor come from Eket Senatorial District, Governor Godswill Akpabio has also openly declared his support for Udom Emmanuel, the immediate past SSG, who succeeded Mr. Umanah after the latter’s resignation.
Mr. Emmanuel also resigned from office last month to contest the governorship race.
With such open support by the governor, followers of the politics in Akwa Ibom say it was becoming pretty obvious that aspirants on the platform of the PDP in the state from other senatorial districts (Uyo and Ikot Ekpene) would not stand a chance of realizing their aspirations.
Mr. Umanah, who comes from Uyo Senatorial district, is said to be one of the prime targets of the governor’s decision.
But, determined to realise his ambition, Mr. Umanah told PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday in a telephone interview that he was ready to formally defect to the opposition APC in the state.
He said a formal declaration of his membership of the APC was scheduled for Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, on Thursday in a ceremony to be attended by all national officers of the party, including one of the party’s presidential aspirants, Muhammadu Buhari.
Others expected at the declaration include the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, who also defected from the PDP recently; a national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu; as well as Governors of Rivers and Kano states, Chubuike Amaechi and Rabiu Kwankwaso.
Giving insights to Mr. Umanah’s decision, his media spokesperson, Iboro Otongaran, said his defection to the APC has nothing to do with Mr. Akpabio’s preference for another aspirant.
“The decision to move does not have anything to do with Governor Akpabio’s declaration about his preference in Udom Emmanuel or anybody,” Mr. Otongaran said. “It does not matter who the governor prefers. As a citizen of the state he has a right to prefer one person over another.”
Mr. Otongaran, however, blamed the decision on the National Working Committee, NWC, of the PDP, which recently issued a statement through its National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metu, barring Mr. Umanah and other aspirants from Uyo Senatorial District, except those from Eket Senatorial district, from contesting the governorship elections in the state come 2015.
On his chance of realising his ambition under APC, with array of contenders already lined up to slug it out for the party’s ticket, Mr. Otongaran said Mr. Umanah remained unaffected, as he was the “real issue in the politics of Akwa Ibom State.”
“Whether Umanah Okon Umanah is in PDP, Labour Party, APC or Accord Party, he will still be the issue. In fact, even if there was a provision in the constitution for an independent candidate, he will still be the issue.
“The issue is not which party would brighten or dim his chances of winning the elections in Akwa Ibom State, because the Umanah brand is the real issue. People are interested in him irrespective of the party he is flying his flag,” he said.