* Says party stalwarts out for showdown with former minister
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Enefiok Ekefre, has called on supporters of the party to reject completely the idea of “Guided Congresses” allegedly prescribed by another APC chieftain and former minister, Mr. Don Etiebet, for use in the nationwide congresses of the party which is scheduled to begin on Saturday, May 5.
Mr Ekefre, who made the call in Uyo on Wednesday while interacting with journalists, described Etiebet’s prescription as undemocratic.
He said a former Akwa Ibom works commissioner, Mr. Udoma Bob Ekarika, had, during a stakeholders meeting of the APC, on Tuesday, announced his withdrawal from the APC state chairmanship position he was aspiring for, following instructions he (Ekarika) said came from Etiebet because of the formula he had already prescribed for use on Saturday.
Ekefre’s position on Etiebet’s guided congresses, the prescription which was unclear as of the time of filing this report, is that Etiebet should allow members of the party to elect officers amenable to their interests, and not perpetuating the current party office holders.
The APC congress guideline, according to the Uyo politician, is that status quo should be maintained. But he is also of the opinion that there should be change of persons in the areas where offices are zoned to.
“When John Akpanudoedehe started ACN (defunct Action Congress of Nigeria), the governorship slot was agreed for Uyo senatorial district, while the chairmanship of the party and the deputy governor’s slot (given to the late Ime Umanah at the time) stayed in Ikot Ekpene senatorial district. That was the arrangement which brought Amadu Atai as chairman of ACN.
“Umana Okon Umana came and inherited that structure when he became governorship candidate of the APC in 2015. And the chairmanship of the party was returned to Ikot Ekpene district, while the deputy governor (in Ben Ukpong) went to Eket senatorial district, the Oron axis.
“Uyo was aim of the entire thing: the two governorship candidates between 2011 and 2015 were from Uyo senatorial district.
“Now in my party, it is generally agreed that the deputy governor should come from Uyo. When Udoedehe was the governorship candidate, the the chairman of the party and the deputy governor’s slot went to Ikot Ekpene district.
“Therefore if the deputy governor’s slot is coming to Uyo senatorial district this time around, we must also retain the chairmanship of the party. That’s my position”, he said.
Ekefre said Etiebet is trying to reintroduce impunity into the Akwa Ibom APC as he earlier did in the PDP.
“Etiebet did that in 1998, and that was what gave birth to impunity in the polity of the state. He singlehandedly produced (former Governor Victor) Attah without consultation with other party stakeholders.
“Attah’s emergence then was not by popular participation, it was a one man’s show. Somewhere along the line, Godswill Akpabio worked with Attah. He understudied the process and did more.
“It was Etiebet that established impunity in this state. Godswill Akpabio perfected the act with his selection of current Governor Udom Emmanuel. Who knows what will happen in Udom’s time?
“”Democracy starts with the party congress. When the selection process in the party is not transparent, the government cannot be right.
“And I said no, allow people to produce who they want as the ward chairman, chapter chairman and others so that those who want to be governor will come and talk to them.
“The APC has enough goodwill on ground. But popularity does not translate to victory if one does not work for it.
“Some of our members are out for a showdown with him. They’re prepared to take him to court. Whoever wants to implement Etiebet’s policy will end up in court with him”, said.
Mr. Etiebet could not be reached at press time. His known telephone number failed to connect when this reporter put a call through to it on Wednesday evening.
The APC National Publicity Secretary, Mr Bolaji Abdullahi, recently announced May 5th and 12th as dates for ward and local government congresses, while the state congress is scheduled to hold on May 19, 2018. Date for the national convention is yet to be announced.