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Political frenzy in Akwa Ibom over senator Effiong’s defection

By Inemesit Akpan-Nsoh, Uyo
23 January 2017   |   2:26 am
The politics of Akwa Ibom state has gone up to a feverish level in the past few days following Senator Nelson Effiong’s decision to dump the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Senator Nelson Effiong

Senator Nelson Effiong

The politics of Akwa Ibom state has gone up to a feverish level in the past few days following Senator Nelson Effiong’s decision to dump the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

He ditched PDP that gave him the mandate to represent the people of Akwa Ibom South also known as Eket senatorial district, for All Progressive Congress [APC].

The shock and unending melee that have trialed this singular action which seems to have shaken the foundation of PDP, may not be unconnected with the fact that, governor Udom Emmanuel is from this same senatorial district and the fears that this could have negative effects on the senatorial district.

In particular, concerns have been expressed that come 2019, it may affect the fortunes of the district, having already penciled down the governor for a second term.

Observers are also quick to point out that this is not the first time this kind of political tremor has happened within the PDP in the state. Senator Ita Enang at the twilight of 2015 campaigns preparatory to nominations dumped the PDP for APC.

Senator Helen Esuene from same Eket senatorial district in 2015 also dumped the PDP for Labour Party to contest for the governorship position of the party. But these developments did not raise as much dust as that created by Effiong’s.

Since the development, there have been reactions, most pointing to recalling the senator and declaring his seat vacant. Nonetheless the senator maintained that his action has no direct bearing with all the insinuations from the people of his constituency, but that, he had to dump the party because it was plagued by factionilisation.

However, to governor Emmanuel, the defection of one person cannot affect the strength or the narrative of the party in the state. He called on party faithful in the state not to be distracted by this singular action, stressing that, such would not derail him from pursuing his five points agenda for the benefit of the generality of the people.

According to him, this lack of contentment has been the bane of politicians especially in the third world; noting that, in developed democracies rarely do things like jumping from one party to another happen.

“I see the development as cheap political blackmail where a person chooses to dump his party which has brought him to limelight in order to gain acceptance in another party”.

The state chairman of the PDP, Mr. Paul Ekpo disclosed that the party received news of the defection with mixed feelings and that it was indicative of a drowning man.

“The People’s Democratic Party is not and cannot be a sinking party; even Nelson Effiong recognized so during the last enlarged stakeholders meeting of the party held in December 2016, where he spoke glowingly about the party. We urge our faithful, especially those from Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District, to remain calm and continue to support the party, knowing that we will do everything within the ambit of the law to reclaim the party’s mandate.

Similarly, the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Onofiok Luke, reacting to the development said nothing could drag him into joining the APC, noting that the party is a conglomerate of angry politicians.

“Today they are the same people that are turning around to say that the PDP is evil. That means that they are evil too because some of them were in the PDP. PDP was our party yesterday; it is our party today and our party tomorrow”.

But political watchers of the unfolding drama are of the view that, it was long over due alleging that, “Senator Effiong for the past one and half years has not done anything for the people of Eket senatorial district; his leaving the party is long overdue as his representation has not been felt.”

Similarly, it was also argued that the defection was to preempt the alleged decision of stakeholders from his senatorial district in a meeting held last year where it agreed to dump him for another person come 2019; to complete the second term for the people of Oron federal constituency at the senate.

Effiong who was a former speaker of the state House of Assembly, maintained that he was not afraid of any name the people of his senatorial district would call him. According to him, he has done all the necessary consultations before arriving at the decision to quit the PDP.

He challenged those planning to recall him, to approach the court or the senate, claiming that the constitution is very clear on such matters.

Besides, he alleged that, as a senator representing twelve council areas, the PDP denied him a slot of chapter chairman for his local government council of Oron.

“I am not afraid of the process to recall me, the constitution is there, they can bring it to the senate and I wish them luck. The primary reason I left PDP is that the party is factionalized; you have nobody to report to at the center. I consulted widely and I have the support from my constituent”.

The senator alleged that, but not for the intervention of the senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, many PDP senators would have decamp from the party before now.

Keen observers called on the PDP to desist from dissipating their energies castigating the decamped senator, but should try to read between the lines and put their house to guide against bandwagon effect.

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