The crisis in the All Progressives Congress in Akwa Ibom State has worsened following a fierce media war between its founding member, John Udoedehe, and the party’s gubernatorial candidate, Umana Okon Umana.
The festering crisis between the APC gladiators, party insiders say, might affect the party’s chances at the rescheduled national elections on March 28 and April 11.
Both APC topshots took their disagreements a step further by buying primetime on an Uyo-based private radio station, Planet FM, where they threw insults at one another.
Mr. Udoedehe, who served in the 20-man constitution drafting sub-committee of the Joint Inter Merger Committee of the APC in 2013, had on Saturday blasted Mr. Umana for allegedly hijacking the party structure in the state.
While fielding questions on Planet FM, the APC chieftain lampooned and referred to Mr. Umana as a thief, vowing to resist his imposition on the party.
“Umana is a thief who brought injustice to APC,” Mr. Udoedehe said.
He maintained that the APC primary in which the former secretary to the Akwa Ibom State Government emerged was imperfect, noting that it was organised under the cover of darkness.
He called on party faithful in the state not to forget their heroes but agree that only the names of bad people make it to history books.
The former minister of state for the Federal Capital Territory noted that Mr. Umana is not a progressive, adding that an individual does not just become a progressive politician by merely joining a political party.
He, however, insisted that only a court of competent jurisdiction would decide who will fly the APC’s flag in the April 11 governorship election.
Already, he said he has filed a case challenging the outcome of the primary which he claimed never took place.
Going a bit spiritual, Mr. Udoedehe said, “The only person that has Satan’s phone number is God and he is fighting for me.”
He strongly rejected claims that he (Udoedehe) reconciled with the APC gubernatorial candidate and that he has withdrawn the suit against the controversial primary election.
Mr. Udoedehe said the speculation was akin to a situation where a visitor goes to someone’s home, opens the fridge and serves drink to the homeowner.
Having paid his dues as a leading opposition figure in the state for about eight years, he said it was unfair for the APC to impose Mr. Umana not only on his supporters but also on him.
Mr. Udoedehe hinted that Mr. Umana is completely incapable of springing any surprise against the Peoples Democratic Party, saying playing opposition politics “is not like planting waterleaves in the garden”.
But in a reaction on the same medium on Monday, Mr. Umana, who defected from the PDP to the main opposition party, said he was not aware of any pending case in connection with the APC gubernatorial primary.
“I have not been served any court notice on the APC governorship primary and when that is done, we will reply him,” Mr. Umana said.
The former SSG, however, alleged that it was Mr. Udoedehe who invaded the Uyo Township Stadium with thugs to cart away elections materials, a situation he said resulted in the electoral officers adopting the open ballot system for the primary.
“He (Udoedehe) invaded the venue of the primary with his thugs and now wants to benefit from his thuggery,” Mr. Umana said on a live radio interview.
He also hinted that he has been endorsed by former Governor Victor Attah ahead of the elections.
“Yes, I have the support of Obong Attah, and he will address my campaign rally in Uyo to show his support for me,” Mr. Umana said.
When contacted by telephone, the former Governor of the state, Victor Attah, did not answer his call.
A lady, who said he is Mr. Attah’s secretary, however, promised to inform the former governor that PREMIUM TIMES sought to speak with him.
At the time of filling this report, neither Mr. Attah nor his secretary had reverted to confirm Mr. Umana’s endorsement claim.