The defeat of ex-Senate Minority Leader and former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, in his bid to return to the National Assembly on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has improved the winning spirit of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state and forced the opposition back to the drawing board.
Few weeks to the presidential and National Assembly elections, the attention of pundits moved to Akwa Ibom in the South South region even though the elections would hold across the country.
Wittingly or unwittingly, the opposition APC at the centre developed so much interest in Akwa Ibom, to the extent that it was in Uyo, the state capital, that President Muhammadu Buhari launched his re-election bid.
Analysts believed that since the defection of Akpabio to the APC, the ruling party at the centre saw in him another formidable force that would fast-track its entry into the South South, in addition to what the likes of Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi are doing.
In Akwa Ibom, nobody was doubting the capacity of Akpabio to score a political gain for the APC considering that after serving as governor for eight years, he proceeded to the Senate seamlessly after playing key role in the emergence of Udom Emmanuel as his successor.
However, like in other places, the god-father-god-son relationship between Akpabio and Emmanuel did not stand the test of time; hence the resolve of the former to once again launch a comeback by proxy – first to win his re-election to the Senate and then have an APC governor.
However, if what transpired on Feb. 23 is to be used as a precursor of what would happen on Saturday, it means ex-governor Akpabio has a hectic task ahead.
So far, the main contenders for the governorship seat are Governor Emmanuel and that of APC, Nsima Ekere.
Analysts believe that Governor Emmanuel is right now the darling of the electorate in the state. He had earned their love, respect and support with his achievements so far. Most importantly, his ability to weather the political storm stoked by the defection of Senator Akpabio had proved that he, too, is an establishment to reckon with.
The unimaginable defeat of Akpabio, and the PDP’s victory in the presidential polls in 28 out of 30 local government areas where election results were announced, have given a boost to the chances of Emmanuel on Saturday.
Moreover, analysts say the PDP has worked hard in mobilising the electorate at the grassroots to the extent that the purported fear of the “federal might” as touted by the APC had been demystified.
The PDP has so far clinched all the three senatorial and 10 House of Representatives seats in the state, though President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, had during a visit to Uyo, on Monday, said they would reclaim their mandate.
Undoubtedly, Buhari’s second visit to Akwa Ibom in three months is a source of concern to the PDP as it coincided with the reported increased security presence in the state.
The PDP is apprehensive and has described the army’s show of force, including the declaration of 10 local government areas as flash points as a “smokescreen for election rigging for the APC”.
The 2 Brigade of the Nigerian Army has, however, countered the allegation, saying the “show of force” is just a routine military exercise to instill confidence in the people and encourage them to come out and vote freely during the elections.
Though the APC in the state has garnered strength and membership since the defection of Senator Akpabio, forcing the once dominant PDP to fight for its life and the retention of the seat of government, political analysts believe the PDP will most probably make a good outing on Saturday.
They averred that the results of the presidential and National Assembly elections in the state were evidence of the people’s resolve to remain with the PDP which is called “a religion” in many quarters.
But APC members and supporters think differently. They believe the presidential and National Assembly elections exposed many flaws.
According to APC supporters, Ekere antecedents particularly his forays as former deputy governor of the state, and recently Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, speak for him. Source: DailyTrust