Senator Iyorchia Ayu, National Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party.

By Effiong Effiong

In an interview granted on the eve of the national convention which was published by Vanguard newspaper online of October 31, 2021, the now National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, had rekindled hope that the Party under your leadership will be back to winning ways by ensuring that imposition of candidates for any office which is antithetical to the democratic ideals of integration and internal democracy is put to an end. He said, ‘…any candidate that wants to run has nothing to fear from me, whether as ward councillor, local government chairman, state governor, senator or a member of the House of Representatives, it will be a free and fair election. This is what PDP is known for. We are not like the other party that imposes candidates on the people. I have done it in the past and I will continue to uphold democratic principles.’

The Peoples Democratic Party is at the brink of losing Akwa Ibom State in 2023.

It is no longer news that the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, has singlehandedly begun the process of imposing an unpopular candidate on the Party against the thinking of majority of stakeholders of the Party in the State. On 30th January 2022, at an event convened by the Governor and attendance strictly by his invitation, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, presented Pastor Umo Eno, his Commissioner for Lands and Water Resources as his “God revealed”, would be successor, thereby shutting the doors against other aspirants who have wider political acceptance than his preferred candidate.

The Governor for whatever reason failed to invite foundation and top-ranking members of the Party who have worked for the growth and success of the Party through tick and thin since 1998 to that meeting. Notably, among them are, Senator Anietie Okon, pioneer National Publicity Secretary and high – ranking national caucus member of the Party; Prince Uwem Ita Etuk, a former State Chairman of the Party who ensured that the governorship was zoned to Eket senatorial district in 2015 (with Mr. Udom Emmanuel as the ultimate beneficiary) inline with existing rotational arrangement within the Party despite efforts by some powerful forces to stop him. Also not invited was Senator Bassey Albert, the leader of Akwa Ibom State caucus in the National Assembly.

READ : 2023: PDP delegates in Akwa Ibom endorse Onofiok Luke for governorship

On Wednesday 2nd February 2022, Governor Udom Emmanuel in the guise of going to celebrate the new year with the leadership of the Party in the State (comprising ward chairmen, chapter officers and state officers), attempted to present his choice successor through Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem, the immediate past national legal adviser of the Party. No sooner had Barr. Enoidem mentioned the name of the governor’s preferred successor had the party officers booed and shut him down. Media report of that event has it that “if Enoidem did not mention Umo Eno (Governor Udom’s preferred candidate) and got booed, the Governor would probably have tasted the resolve of an already insulted people who have lived with this web of concoction for too long.” The report adds that “intelligence gathered revealed that if the Governor had presented Eno at that event, he would have been shocked by the flurry of sachets of water that would have rented the air.” Read media reports on the incident at 1). Annexures 2,; annexure 3:; annexure 4 :, and annexure 5:, are some of the reactions from Party members rejecting Governor Emmanuel’s imposition.

From very reliable intelligent sources, Governor Udom Emmanuel, may not be interested in PDP winning the elections in Akwa Ibom State in 2023. This may not be unconnected with his recent, rumoured reconciliation with his erstwhile boss, Senator Godswill Akpabio. (See Annexure 6: The sources note that Governor Emmanuel has been promised Nigeria’s top banking job by a strong cabal in the APC-led federal government, justifying his (Emmanuel) earlier declaration that after office he will return to the financial world where he came from. The sources added that this also accounts for why Senator Akpabio may be seeking a return to the senate, while the APC sweeps the state against Governor Emmanuel’s lackey. This probably is the ploy from the same playbook of Gombe State, Ibrahim Dakwambo and 2015 where PDP lost the State to a failed personal promise by the APC-led federal government. The PDP under the reformist leadership of Senator Ayu, cannot afford a repeat in Akwa Ibom State.

After Governor Emmanuel witnessed the rejection of his preferred choice by the party as manifested during the new year meeting where Pastor Umo Eno was booed, the Governor has gone ahead to force all party structures to adopt Pastor Eno as the sole candidate of the party, in total breach to the party and INEC’s constitution and regulations. The State Party Chairman was invited to the unveiling and the entire party structure is being deployed to market the governor’s sole candidate. The Deputy State Chairman of the Party, Mr. Lawrence Udosen, has been captured on photo in public adorning a branded Umo Eno faze cap which breaches the Party’s rule of engagement at this stage of electioneering. This has called to question the national chairman’s guarantee that all aspirants will be given a level playing ground in the Party under his leadership. More so, all government appointees and elected officials are being forced to hold endorsement events for the Governor’s choice successor. By foreclosing other aspirants from vying, the Governor is surreptitiously laying a foundation for other popular candidates to decamp with their supporters from the PDP to other political parties. This will weaken the PDP and APC will have a walk-in and win the State come 2023 in fulfilment of Governor Emmanuel’s grand ploy.
Already, a campaign organisation has been named and they have started flooding government’s and other billboards across the State with pictures of the sole candidate.
This is a clear contravention of INEC’s rule on open campaigning and the opposition parties are taking note of this, which may be used to seek disqualification of Pastor Umo Eno perchance the Governor succeeds in foisting him on the party. By the above concerns, it appears that the Governor is laying a booby trap for a possible disqualification of the “anointed” candidate.

As a Party faithful committed to the ideals by which our Party was founded, it is incumbent upon me to bring to your notice the calamity that awaits the party in Akwa Ibom State if we fail to act right and now.