Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Akwa-Ibom State and Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Obong Nsima Ekere was at the Party Secretariat during the consultative meeting with the party NWC and other stakeholders on the 2019 general election. He spoke to journalists on the party reconciliation moves; plot to remove the state governor, Emmanuel Udom and other political issues. Tom Okpe was there for the Daily Times.
What is the position of the Primary and reconciliation move in the State?
Akwa -Ibom State All Progressives Congress (APC) is one as we speak. We are a one united family and ready for the general election, fully reconciled.
All the four governorship aspirants who contested the primary are all united behind me.
In the last two weeks, all other aspirants that did not make it have individually organized rally in their various constituencies to endorse my candidature.
They have brought their campaign organization to be collapsed into mine and we have one big APC family. We have totally put the primary behind us.
We are now looking forward to the general election and we are fully mobilized, ready to take on the general election.
You know that after the 2015 general elections, every elected person in the state except one State House of Assembly seat were totally People’s Democratic Party members. We have done a lot of work to deepen the APC family and the APC mantra.
I can confirm today that we have built the APC into an election winning machine and a machine that is ready to crush any opposition that comes our way during the election.
Of the three Senators in the state, two of them are today APC even though they were originally PDP. Of the 10 members of the House of Representatives who were elected on the PDP platform, three of them are today in APC.
Of the 26 members of the state House of Assembly, five of them are now in APC. This is just for the elective offices.
You find out that commissioners in the present PDP government have resigned from their offices, decamped from the other party into the APC.
We have lost count of personal aides of the governor who have resigned their appointment and from the other party and are now in the APC.
If you look at the political class, you will discover that the entire classes are lined up behind the APC because we have deepened the APC philosophy in the state.
The people of the state have bought into the philosophy, they are ready for change championed by the President and are willing to support the APC during the next general election.
If you listen to the politicians in the other party in the state speaking and saying that the PDP is like a religion in Akwa Ibom state, we laugh because they are living in the past.
They are people who are living in yesterday. The beauty is that, we were all in the other party. I was deputy governor of the state in the other party. The immediate past governor, deputy governor, secretary to the state government were all in the other party and now, they are in the APC.
These are people of note who use to make the other party strong and now in APC and so, when they say PDP is like a religion in the state, we just laugh at them.
Come next general elections, they will wake up from their slumber and they will realize that the state has moved and now fully APC because the state has embraced change.
How true is the allegation that there has been a use of force to remove Gov. Udom Emmanuel?
For any Nigerian who know President Muhammad Buhari will know that he is not the kind of person that will use the apparatus of government against any individual or in favor of a particular political party.
As a matter of fact, you are aware that some members of the APC are already complaining that we are in government, but not in power which is reference to the fact that ordinarily, the way the ruling party in the past use to employ the apparatus of government to intimidate opposition parties is not happening now.
So, I wonder why anybody would wake up and say that is happening in Akwa Ibom state.
That is totally false and no truth in such assertion. It is a matter of crying wolf. Intact if there is someone who is intolerant to the opposition, anybody desirous of not allowing the citizens to find their political bearing, it is the intolerant government in the state.
This is a government that does not even allow opposition candidates in the APC to erect billboards in the state.
A few weeks ago, when I rolled out my outdoor campaigns all over the state, the following day, the government sent thugs and miscreant to pull down the bill boards and that of the President.
The next day, the state Ministry of Environment issued a statement that whoever wants to erect billboards across the state must come and get clearance from the governor.
You can see the level of intolerance and yet, they are the people crying wolf.
We have facilities of the state government like the stadium that does not belong to anybody or political parties were denied us when we wanted to use them.
When the other party want to use the same facilities, they will allow them, but come up with excuses when we want to use them.
We hadn’t solemn assembly last Sunday to flag off our campaigns and wanted to use the stadium, but they came up with flimsy excuses. These are the same people that will be complaining that government wants to use the apparatus of office against them.
There is absolutely no truth in this claim. It is the PDP government in Akwa- Ibom that is using the apparatus of government against the APC and we shall resist it.
We have told them that no amount of intimidation and lies will stop the people from voting out the PDP and allowing change in the state.
How is the support of Akpabio like of your candidacy?
I resigned from office personal reasons. Before the last primaries, the former governor joined the party at the end of August and the primary was in early October and way before the primary, he was my number one supporter, going round the state campaigning for me to emerge candidate of the party.
I can assure you that Chief Godswill Akpabio and his entire political structure is solidly working for the APC and all our candidates in the next general election not only in Akwa Ibom but all over the country.
So, he is not the kind of person that will be working for the APC and the President on one side and working against other candidates of the party.
He is totally an APC man, a loyal party leader in the state and he will definitely work for all APC candidates in the election.
Why did you choose to leave the PDP thinking the party cannot return to power in the state.
That was a decision that was taken after the 2015 primaries. Lack of internal democracy and respect for its own laws.
If a political party can come up and say these are its own guidelines for the conduct of its primaries and float the same guidelines.
You can see there is no internal democracy in the party and you cannot hold them accountable for anything. We discovered that our interest could not be protected by that party and so, we left after the December 2014 primaries of PDP.
I led 22 other aspirants and formed a group called G-22. All the aspirants except the one that emerged winner and the present governor came together to form G-22 against the injustice that was meted out by the party on all other aspirants.
That was what forced me and some other aspirants to leave the PDP and embrace the change that the APC promised.
I am happy I took that decision and we are justified now. We can turn back now with the benefit of hindsight and say we took the right decision.
If faced with similar circumstances tomorrow, I will still take that same decision.
Why do think PDP cannot come back to power in the state?
Like I said earlier, we were all PDP members. The governor then, Godswill Akpabio was also PDP, the deputy governor and SSG were all PDP and all of them are in the APC today.
All the political actors then who made the PDP have all left and 90 percent are now in the APC.
These were the people that usually make things happen. So do I need to tell you that there is any way PDP can win in Akwa Ibom? They don’t even have the men and resources.
The only thing they have is the money that the governor is throwing around.
That is why you are having defection on a daily basis in the state to join the APC; even government officials are resigning from the government and the party to join us in the APC. Do I still need to tell you that we will win?
Let me add that the number one responsibility of government is security of lives. The State is usually a very peaceful state.
I can tell you that today, in three local government areas in the state, the people are not able to sleep at night.
They have been over taken by cultists and there is lot of insecurity and yet, the governor is scoring himself 100 percent in security.
So, you can see that the people of the state have totally lost confidence in this government. Even the basic assets this government inherited, they are not able to maintain them.
From the airport into the town, we use to have street lights. Those lights don’t even work now. We have one of the best hotels in this country. Go there now and see.
So many things he inherited are not being maintained and nothing has been added. That is why people are unanimous interjecting him and his government. That is why APC will soon become a religion in the state.
APC Akwa- Ibom fully united reconciled, ready for election – Obong Nsima Ekere
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