Akwa Ibom PDP Crisis Deepens As Etiebet Lambasts Akpabio.
The succession plan by the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio, appears to have thrown the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state in disarray.
A prominent member of the Board of Trustees of the party, Don Etiebet, took a swipe at the governor for the zoning of the governorship ticket to Eket senatorial district in the run up to the 2015 elections in the state.
Mr. Etiebet, a former Minister of Petroleum Resources under the Abacha administration, also attacked the state PDP Executive Committee for its alleged show of disrespect to President Goodluck Jonathan and the National PDP leadership through its comments after its meeting held in Uyo on Tuesday.
The meeting, presided over by the state PDP Chairman, Paul Ekpo, was attended by Mr. Akpabio, state officers of the party, the deputy speaker and other leaders of the State House of Assembly, some senators and other past and present members of the National Assembly, chairmen and vice-chairmen of the 31 local government councils, as well as chapter chairmen of the party.
A communiqué issued at the end of the meeting ratified the resolution to zone the governorship ticket to Eket Senatorial District.
The resolution condemned the Special Adviser to the President on Political Affairs, Ahmed Gulak, who the state PDP accused of “ignoble and contemptuous role.”
It criticised Mr. Gulak's visit to the state, which it said was “to inaugurate a sectional and unknown Support Group in favour of our dear President without bothering to pay any courtesies to the state leadership of the Party.”
Warning Mr. Gulak to desist from further interference in the affairs of the PDP in Akwa Ibom, the party executives urged President Jonathan to caution his aides against causing disaffection in states.
However, in his statement on Thursday, Mr. Etiebet described some of the resolutions at the meeting as “distasteful”. He said though he was invited to attend, he declined since, “such meetings are (usually) held in PDP Party office, not in government enclave.”
Mr. Etiebet accused the state party leadership and the governor of deceiving members by zoning the governorship seat.
“If they knew they were right, how come they came up with a proviso that “the right of any other person from other Senatorial Districts to contest for the Governorship seat in 2015″ is sacrosanct?” the PDP leader said. “Does that not negate and make a mockery of their intended resolution in its entirety?
“However, to nib any adverse reaction from party members in the bud, I, Chief Don Obot Etiebet, CON, Founding Father and Permanent Member of Board of Trustees of PDP from the State, hereby state unequivocally that aspirants from any part of the state would not be denied nomination forms and proper processing of their applications when the time comes and so they should go about their consultations without any hindrance or mistrust,” Mr. Etiebet stated.
Recalling the political scenario in 2006, Mr. Etiebet said over 56 aspirants from the three senatorial districts contested against Mr. Akpabio, who eventually emerged the winner.
He said Mr. Akpabio has never stopped telling any gathering, be it political, social, cultural or business, about his feat in the 2006 elections.
He said the governor had on several occasions even made it a campaign issue that he was the choice of the people of Akwa Ibom, and that “the days when Atuekong Don Etiebet sat down in his parlour to choose a governor for the people were over.”
Mr. Etiebet said the situation in 200 should not change in 2015, particularly with present day awareness of democratic tenets and choices. He said after Victor Attah's emergence in 1998 as PDP consensus candidate, there has neither been a consensus nor zoning arrangement in Akwa Ibom to choose its gubernatorial candidate.
Dismissing the zoning resolution as worthless, Mr. Etiebet advised other loyal party members to jettison any arrangement purportedly zoning the governorship position to a particular district of the state and go out to work with their preferred aspirants in 2015.
The former minister also condemned the state PDP's call that Mr. Jonathan endorse Mr. Akpabio's bid to represent Akwa Ibom North West (Ikot Ekpene) in the Senate in 2015 in exchange for the governor's continuous support to the president and the party, both at the national and state levels.
The President, Mr. Etiebet said, should not allow himself to be misled into giving in to pressures by the party leadership, pointing out that such a decision could be instructive of the things to come in the state during the forthcoming elections.
“If they (the state executives) can call on the President to do that, one can imagine the levels of illegality, intimidation and harassment they may have in store for their opponents in the forthcoming PDP primaries. I plead with you my dear brother, Governor, do not allow some overzealous supporters to lead you astray,” he said.
Mr. Etiebet's letter is a further show of the simmering political crisis in the state.
After the controversial state executive meeting, the governor on Thursday sacked two commissioners, along with the Chairmen of Boards of six parastatals and government agencies.
Those dropped included the Commissioner of Finance, Bassey Akpan; and Commissioner for Rural Development, Effiong Abia.
The affected chairmen were those for Akwa Ibom Property and Investment Company Limited, APICO, Sunny Udom; Akwa Ibom Water Company Limited, AKWCL, Patrick Ifon; Akwa Ibom Newspaper Corporation, AKNC, Dan Akai; and Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Corporation, AKBC, Alex Nyong. The Chairman of Akwa Ibom State Environmental Protection and Management Board, AKEPMB, John Asikpo; and that of Akwa Ibom State Agency for Community and Social Development, Tony Esu.
The board chairmen were accused of disloyalty to the governor after they reportedly signed a public document issued by party chieftains and other political leaders in the state demanding that the governor allows his successor emerge through a democratic electoral process, rather than through consensus.