Last minute efforts to restrain the former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio, from defecting to All Progressives Congress, APC, from Peoples Democratic Party, PDP were, yesterday, ongoing amidst mutual allegations between him and his successor, Governor Udom Emmanuel.
Sources close to Senator Akpabio, now the Senate Minority Leader, raised allegations of insubordination, among others, against Governor Emmanuel for Akpabio’s determination to leave the party that had been personified by him in his state.
Associates of the governor, however, dismissed the claim, affirming that Emmanuel has regularly genuflected before Akpabio, describing him at several fora as his political mentor in the affairs of governance and party administration. One associate of Emmanuel, however, surmised that if he defects it would mean that “the king has decided to dance naked.”
After months of anxiety, news of Akpabio’s imminent defection from the PDP swept through the social media last weekend following a post on the face book page of Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla, Special Assistant to the President on Prosecution.
Mr. Obono-Obla had in his facebook page wrote: “There shall be an APC Rally at Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Abasi Ibom State on Thursday, the 9th August 2018 to receive the former indefatigable governor of the state, His Excellency, Senator Godswill Akpabio, to All Progressives Congress! Acting President Osinbajo accompanied by Senator Ita Enang and leaders of the APC in Akwa Ibom will formally receive Senator Godswill Akpabio into the APC at Ikot Ekpene Stadium on Thursday, August 9, 2018.”
Obono-Obla’s involvement in announcing the defection had sparked insinuations that Akpabio was being hounded to defect by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
However, that claim was strongly rebuffed by Akpabio’s associates, who, yesterday, affirmed that his potential movement was being instigated by other factors. They wondered if it was the EFCC that hounded Ortom, Saraki and other defectors out of their respective parties.
Why he is defecting
Among the claims of the former governor’s associates were that his successor does not respect him and had treated him with contempt. Senator Godswill Akpabio with President Buhari in London on Sunday One source also claimed that Senator Akpabio was peeved by what he feared as the use of numerical strength of the Ibibio against him.
Akapbio is from the minority Annang ethnic stock, while Emmanuel is from the majority Ibibio ethnic stock. There was also the claim that Emmanuel was grooming the son-in-law of a former governor of the state as his deputy ahead of the 2019 election.
The claims were, however, dismissed by an associate of the governor who, while speaking to Vanguard, saidGovernor Emmanuel practically bows to Akpabio on all matters from governance to party affairs.
“It is because of this that he left the running of the party to his predecessor,” the source said.
An associate of the governor, however, affirmed that should Akpabio go ahead to defect that it could be his greatest mistake in life as, according to him, it would mean that “the king has decided to dance naked in public.”
Akpabio meets Buhari in London
It could not be confirmed at press time if that meeting had taken place as it emerged that Akpabio was reported to have travelled to London where he reportedly met with President Muhammadu Buhari.
The meeting of the two men in London, yesterday, was made known after the President’s Special Assistant on Online Media, Mr. Bashir Ahmad, tweeted the picture of Senator Akpabio meeting with the President.
Following the meeting, Senator Akpabio in a tweet on his personal handle, @SenatorAkpabio, said: “Our most important task as leaders is to engage in meaningful discussion and share ideas that will build the bridge between the struggle of today and the future we will all be proud of.”
Final decision to defect lies with Akpabio
Meanwhile, the PDP was, yesterday, claiming to have done everything to retain his membership of the opposition party. A party leader, however, affirmed that its constitution only allows room for defection if cracks exist within its fold, adding that at the national level and the Akwa Ibom State chapter of the party, the PDP has no factions.
A prominent member of the PDP National Working Committee, NWC yesterday, made it clear that speculations on the lawmaker’s imminent defection were not new, stating, however, that the party has continued to explore ways of handling the situation.
The source said although the PDP will go the whole hog to retain the membership of one of its arrowheads and stalwarts, the party leader said the final decision.
He said: “We have been on this matter for quite a while now and as a party, we have done our best. We are not resting yet and we will do more to make him see reasons to have a second thought.
“Our constitution makes provision for leaving the party, which is when there is a crisis or crises leading to the creation of factions.
Across all the 36 state chapters, the FCT and the national leadership, we have no parallel executives. So there is no justification for anyone to leave our party for now.”
On the options before the party in the event of Akpabio’s defection; the PDP chieftain explained: “A man would only be able to tell which among his wife, makes the better soup after testing the soups made by each of the wives. If he chooses to leave despite the effort of the leadership of our party, we can only wait and see how events unfold for him.
“Deep inside of him, he knows what he is going into. The question is, why is he leaving? Let me add here that the choice is his but we don’t want him to leave because no party will be happy to lose its key member.”