PDP pledges equal opportunity for all aspirants in Akwa Ibom

Mr Aniekan Umanah, Chief Paul Ekpo, Senator Godswill Akpabio, and Mr Emmanuel Enoidem got people talking with this photo

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom State says it will ensure equal opportunity for all its aspirants as the party prepares for the 2019 elections.

“All our candidates will emerge from credible nomination processes,” the PDP spokesperson in the state, Ini Ememobong, said on Monday in a press statement.

Mr Ememobong said the endorsement of aspirants by individuals or groups won’t have “binding effect” on the party’s nomination processes.

Recently, a photo showing a former commissioner for information, Aniekan Umanah; the Chairman of PDP in the state, Paul Ekpo; the Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio; and the National Legal Adviser of the party, Emmanuel Enoidem, jubilantly lifting up each other’s hand got people talking on and outside the Internet.

Some PDP members and supporters have been apprehensive over the action of the quartet, saying it looked like an endorsement of Mr Umanah who is seeking the party ticket for the House of Representatives election for the Abak federal constituency. Before now, there has been political tension between Mr Umanah’s camp and that of the incumbent, Emmanuel Ekon.

Mr Ekon was present at the ceremony where the photo was taken.

The PDP spokesperson, Mr. Ememobong, told PREMIUM TIMES that the statement he issued wasn’t specifically about the photo, although he admitted receiving several calls because of the photo.

“If people are friends and one of them is now a party chairman, and the other one wants to contest and they usually have a meeting of old boys or they are elders in the same church and they sit together. Because one of them is now contesting an election and the other one is a party chairman shouldn’t stop them from living their lives,” he said.

“And I have said for the umpteenth time that Paul Ekpo and Aniekan Umanah served as colleagues in the state cabinet during the administration of Godswill Akpabio and they are friends in a way. They are and I hope they remain friends.

“In that photograph, they were gyrating, they were jubilating. You know, immediately you start dancing, the next thing to do is to lift hands, even in church. The lifting of hands does not convey any electoral advantage over someone who was not there at that time.

“Endorsement must be in words. On that day, Paul Ekpo lifted a lot of other people’s hands and they are not contesting any election.

“People should concentrate more on the political processes that will lead to their emergence. In politics, you can defeat the person who has the support of the chairman,” Mr. Ememobong said.

The press statement, Mr Ememobong said, became necessary so as to give people the assurance that the party would ensure fair play.

The party spokesperson, in the press statement, also talked about the endorsement of Governor Udom Emmanuel’s aspiration to run for a second term in office.

“The State Caucus of the Party had previously endorsed the Governor to run for a second term. Despite this endorsement, all constitutional (party) processes will be followed in the emergence of all candidates of the party,” he said.

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Cletus Ukpong is PREMIUM TIMES’ assistant editor in charge of Nigeria’s South-South region. He is a graduate of Mass Communication, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Twitter: @CletusUkpong

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