The people of Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, Akwa Ibom State, will hold an endorsement rally for Governor Udom Emmanuel next Monday. Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leaders will also explain why they are endorsing the governor for another term at the ceremony.
The PDP is expected to make a decisive political statement on the state’s future political direction.
One factor that makes next Monday’s gathering significant is that, until three years ago, the Ikot Ekpene zone was the political headquarters of the state, being the base of former Governor Godswill Akpabio, who is now the Senate Minority Leader. As the zone makes its own statement on the governorship election, it is believed that whatever pronouncement that is made would echo loudly across the length and breadth of the state.
The proposed PDP zonal rally is trailing the governor’s endorsement by other interest groups.
Remarkably, the pronouncements, which have been in support of Emmanuel started almost a year ago when the Ibibio nation came out with one voice to endorse him.
Although it was orgnaised by the Ibibio nation, that event, however, drew the various interest groups from within and outside the state.
“If all the Akwa Ibom people have come out to say that Mr Udom Emmanuel has their support for eight years, who is going to come and oppose that,” the Paramount Ruler of Ikot Abasi, Edidem Udo John Ntukubom, said on behalf of paramount rulers of Ibibioland.
“Since no one can oppose that, and God himself has ratified it, I hereby present you with two cows a male and female, to symbolise the prosperity his Government is bringing to Akwa Ibom State,” he added.
That endorsement a year ago was significant. It was witnessed by Emmanuel’s colleagues from far and wide. Among those who defied party differences and came to salute the governor’s perceived achievements was the All Progressives Congress, APC governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha who apparently shocked APC supporters in Akwa Ibom with his presence.
Okorocha’s presence at that rally shocked the APC in Akwa Ibom State, given the fact that the party which is in control of the Federal Government, but in opposition in Akwa Ibom had been trying to bounce to power in the state. The APC in Akwa Ibom was at that time seriously enmeshed in division. There was crisis between those who recently joined the party led by the pair of former Secretary to the Government, Umana Umana, former Deputy Governor Nsima Ekere and supporters of the 2011 governorship candidate, Senator James Akpan Udoedehe.
Speaking at that rally Okorocha who said he came to strengthen the bonds between the South-South and Southeast geopolitical zones said: “Governor Udom is not a Governor of a section of the state, he is not a Governor of APC or PDP, Governor Udom is the Governor of Akwa Ibom, therefore we must learn when to drop politics and when to embrace governance.”
That rally was witnessed by political leaders, including House of Assembly members and the immediate past governor, Senator Akpabio, who spoke glowingly of the governor.
While acknowledging the support of various interest groups in the state, Akpabio said: “That means that Akwa Ibom people did not make mistake in 2015 when we rose as one to elect Udom Gabriel as our Governor, Your Excellency in a period like this God must produce a leader, in a period of recession you have done exceedingly well… your training to work and manage people and resource that training has paid off in Akwa Ibom in the last two years.”
It is significant that the governor has also been of endorsed various market groups, with traders repeatedly pledging their determination to deliver bloc votes for the governor.
A section of the youth population in the state christened the Abak 5 in March 2018 endorsed the governor for a second term at a well attended rally held at Abak Township Stadium, Abak. The rally was organised by youths from the five Local Government Areas from the former Old Abak Division.
However, what would count as one of the most emotive approvals for the governor was the one that came from the Christian community in the state endorsed the governor for a second term upon what it claimed was his sterling performance in office. The endorsement by the Christian community came during a March two-day conference with the theme “One body, one voice”.
Among the church leaders who were at the occasion organise by the Akwa Ibom Christian Assembly were Dr Uma Ukpai, Prelate Emeritus Sunday Mbang, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Akwa Ibom chapter, Reverend Ndueso Ekwere, Rev Ntia Ntia, Archbishop Emma Isong and Apostle Zilley Aggrey.