By Udeme Utip
Crisis looms in Akwa Ibom State political sphere as some elders of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on Sunday evening endorsed the state Commissioner for Lands, Mr Umo Eno as the preferred candidate of the party for the 2023 gubernatorial election.
THEWILL learned that the governor had invited some party elders, including some of those rumoured to be having gubernatorial ambition to governor’s lodge without disclosing to them the agenda for the meeting.
It was however surprising to many for the former governor, Obong Victor Attah to present Pastor Umo Eno as the endorsed candidate of the stakeholders of the party at the meeting.
Ironically, some aspirants to the governorship position in the state, even those still serving in the governor’s cabinet, such as the state Commissioner for Economic Development and Ibom Deep Seaport, Mr Akan Okon and the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Comrade Ini Emembong, were not present at the meeting, thus confirming the existence of deep cracks and bad blood in Gov Emmanuel’s team.
The chief press secretary to the governor, Mr Ekerete Udo, who confirmed the incident to our correspondent said the action was taken by a cross section of stakeholders in the state.
“The governor announced that he (Eno) was the one God has revealed to him as the next governor of the state and he was unveiled to all the stakeholders from the three senatorial districts of the state by the former governor, Obong Victor Attah, who then commended the choice. It was an array of the political elders made up of senators and House of Representatives members”, he stated.
When asked if there were some dissenting voices at the meeting concerning the sudden endorsement, the press secretary said he wasn’t aware of any.
But from a reliable source, one of the governorship aspirants and Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary, Mr Onofiok Luke, stormed out of the meeting when he was not allowed to express himself during the meeting.
Expressing his feelings on a telephone conversation, Luke said he was not aware of the agenda of the meeting but had to attend to honour the governor who extended the invitation to him.
“I’m not against their endorsement; and I’m not against the elders of the state. But I’m saying the endorsement could have happened after proper consultation.
“I went to Obong Attah and told him why didn’t you talk to all of us who are in this race? Why didn’t you talk to Sen Bassey Albert, why didn’t you talk to Akan Udofia; why didn’t you talk to Akan Okon; why didn’t you talk to James Iniama? because it Obong Attah that made the presentation, not the governor.
“We would have loved their endorsement but that would have been after due consultation. We would love the endorsement by the elders of the state. But whoever they would endorse should be the choice of the majority of people in the state.
“So for me as Onofiok Akpan Luke, I am in the race for the governorship. I am going to stand election on the platform of my party the PDP. I am not part of that endorsement at all.
“But I respect their views; I respect the opinion and choice of the governor. I respect Obong Victor Attah and the opinion of the elders of the state. It is their choice. I only respect their opinion; but I am not in support of what they are doing.
“I was ambushed. I didn’t know the agenda of the meeting but I had to respect the governor and attend the meeting at the lodge on his invitation.
“For thee good times I had raised my hand seeking to be allowed to speak but I was ignored”. Luke maintained.
Speaking after he was endorsed, Pastor Eno narrated emotionally about how he grew up in the Police barracks and how dreary and challenging those days were, but he summoned hope to overcome those difficulties.
He said he was grateful to God and to Governor Emmanuel for finding him worthy of the onerous task to lead the people of the State and continue the people-focused and developmental strides of Governor Udom Emmanuel.
Bishop Uma Ukpai and the Prelate Emeritus of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, Dr Sunday Mbang prayed for his success, a sentiment that was re-echoed by the Oku Ibom Ibibio and Chairman of State Council of Chiefs, Ntenyin Solomon Etuk.
Among those who attended the event, were the Deputy Governor, Mr Moses Ekpo, MFR, Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey, Senators Akon Eyakenyi, Effiong Bob, Ibok Essien, Aloysius Etok, former Deputy Governor, Etim Okpoyo, Member, representing Etinan Federal Constituency at the National Assembly, Onofiok Luke, PDP Party Chairman, Elder Aniekan Akpan, Barrister Emmanuel Enoidem, the National Coordinator of the Maintain Peace Movement, (MPM) . Hon Pat Ifon, Member representing Eket Federal Constituency at the National Assembly and Member, PDP BOT, Chief Nduese Essien, a former Minister of Housing, Ambassador Assam Assam, SAN, Nigeria’s former Ambassador to Russia , Fathers of Faith, and other leading members of the state’s political class.
(Report, excluding headline; THEWILL)