A senator, Godswill Akpabio, who ignited a political storm across the country with his planned defection from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) has arrived Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
Mr Akpabio, over the past few days, visited President Muhammadu Buhari in London where he (Buhari) is on a 10-day vacation. He also met with the APC leader, Bola Tinubu, as well as Acting President Yemi Osinbajo in preparation for his defection.
A large crowd of both PDP and APC supporters were at the Akwa Ibom International Airport, Uyo, singing and dancing to welcome the Akwa Ibom senator back home, Tuesday afternoon.
“The crowd was something else, very unprecedented,” a former aide to Mr Akpabio said of the reception at the airport.
“It’s a triumphant entry, I can tell you this,” he said.
Among those who were at hand to receive Mr Akpabio were two commissioners serving under Governor Udom Emmanuel – the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Victor Antai, and the Commissioner for Labour, Productivity and Manpower Planning, Ibanga Akpabio, who is a relative of the senator.
Two House of Representatives members, Emmanuel Ekon (Abak federal constituency), and Emmanuel Akpan (Ikot Ekpene federal constituency) were also among those who received Mr Akpabio.
Mr Ekon flew in the same flight with the senator into Uyo, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.
Nse Ntuen, a state lawmaker representing Essien Udim, as well as the Deputy State Chairman of PDP, Michael Afangideh, was also at the airport to receive the senator.
A former commissioner for works, Don Etim, was there too.
The political leader of Essien Udim, Michael Afangideh, was among those that graced the reception at the senator’s country home in Ukana.
The senator, while driving in a motorcade from Uyo, through Ikot Ekpene, to his hometown in Essien Udim, made stopovers at some road intersections across the state to wave at jubilant crowd which gathered to welcome him.
He spoke with reporters at the airport, giving them a clue to what may have prompted his decision to leave the PDP.
He reportedly said that he had served the PDP faithfully and loyally and had helped build the party but that the party has chosen to reward those who had previously abandoned it when it mattered most, apparently referring to Senate President Bukola Saraki’s return to the PDP.
Mr Akpabio is expected to be formally received into the APC on Wednesday at a political rally in Ikot Ekpene.
The senator’s planned defection has rattled many in the state, especially officials of the state government and PDP supporters.