A factional chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom state, Udoma Ekarika, has defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Mr Ekarika announced his defection at a political rally organised on Monday in Onna by the people of Akwa Ibom South District to endorse Governor Udom Emmanuel’s bid for re-election.
Mr Ekarika, a medical doctor and a former commissioner for works in the state, was one of the APC leaders who laid claim to being the “validly” elected state chairman of APC in Akwa Ibom during the state congress of the party in May this year.
A son-in-law to a former governor of the state, Victor Attah, Mr Ekarika was groomed by Mr Attah to take over as governor in 2007 but was narrowly defeated at the PDP governorship primaries by Godswill Akpabio who was serving then as a commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs in the Attah administration.
At the rally, Mr Ekarika reportedly said “I’m coming back from a very useless party called APC, I am proud to become part of PDP again”.
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted Mr Ekarika on Tuesday, he clarified that his use of the word “useless” applied only to the APC in Akwa Ibom, and not in the entire country.
“Yes, APC in Akwa Ibom state is a useless party because of the useless people who have come to join it,” he said, apparently referring to the recent defection of Mr Akpabio from the PDP to the APC.
On what has become of his ambition to lead the APC in the state, Mr Ekarika told PREMIUM TIMES: “My aspiration to lead the party was borne out of my desire to reposition the party for electoral success in 2019 and beyond.
“But the cabal who were the destroyers of PDP who came to APC because they believe in impunity and imposition came to say instead of doing the needful which was to conduct an election, they preferred to do an unconstitutional thing called consensus. There is nothing like consensus in the APC guideline.
“I was not happy about it, they should have allowed the will of the people to prevail.”
Mr Ekarika said Governor Emmanuel would have an easy ride to victory at the poll in 2019.
“Udom will not have any tough battle with anybody. What is on the ground is that Victor Attah did two terms, Godswill Akpabio also did two terms, so Udom Emmanuel would be allowed to do two terms too.
“Apart from that, Udom has done very well. Udom has done very well, I can say it loud. One of the things he has done which Akwa Ibom people appreciate it is that he has brought peace to this state,” he said.
He said the killings, kidnappings, and general insecurity that plagued the state when Mr Akpabio was governor of the state would eventually become a political burden for the APC during the 2019 election.
“Do you think Akwa Ibom people will give APC the opportunity to bring back that era to this state?” Mr Ekarika asked.
He added, “The cog in the wheel of Udom’s administration was Akapabio, and thank God, God has removed him.
“I am sure Udom will now see clearly, with focus, and move ahead.
“Godswill Akpabio is overrated by people at the national level, and not in Akwa Ibom.”