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Shock, anger and disbelief are still in the air in Akwa Ibom following Senator Godswill Akpabio’s defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC) which is set to be formalized on Thursday.
[b]Meanwhile, key stakeholders in the state have reportedly abandoned Senator Akpabio as he moves to the APC.
The former Senate Minority Leader was until his decampment and the drama surrounding it, the political leader of Akwa Ibom State, an active participant since 1999 and a Godfather to several political enthusiasts in his state.
His surprising move to APC has created a political reshuffle in Akwa Ibom state by draining his primary cult following and stripping him of his leadership status as state leaders, stakeholders and his former loyalists believe he has betrayed them and bowed to external pressure from the Presidency.
Akpabio’s defection has altered the political balance of Akwa Ibom but surely not to his favor. His predecessor and current political enemy, former Akwa Ibom Governor Victor Obong Attah currently holds the APC state structure in Akwa Ibom, a structure that was cemented when Udoma Bob Ekarika, Ubong Attah’s son in law was sworn in as the State Party Chairman in May 2018[/b].
The former gubernatorial flag bearer of the party Umana Okon Umana who served as former Finance Commissioner under Ubong Attah and as Secretary to the State Government to Akpabio for 6 years was his most widely speculated successor before Akpabio sacked him and Brought the present Governor(Udom Emmanuel) to replace him as SSG. Umana and Akpabio fell out and Umana contested for the office under the APC and currently has a strong alliance with Victor Ubong Attah.
Another enemy Akpabio faces is Nsima Ekere whom Akpabio picked to become his deputy Governor in 2011 before the duo fell out. With only 17 months and two days in office, Mr. Ekere has had the shortest tenure as deputy governor in Nigeria’s history.
Nsima still went ahead to purchase the PDP nomination in 2014 and contest the primaries which he lost to Emmanuel Udom, the chosen one of Akpabio. Nsima struck a Truce with Umana Umana in 2015.
Political analysts wonder if Godswill Akpabio, a man who loves to lead, will superintend over Victor Ubong Attah, Nsima Ekere, Umana Umana and Udoma Bob Ekarila as leader?
To prove that his defection to the APC was not welcome by the State Chapter, only two commissioners from Governor Udom’s cabinet met him at the airport on his arrival into Uyo as other commissioners continue meetings with the State Governor to keep the oil rich state on track.
One of the two commissioners who decamped with him is his own brother Ibanga Akpabio, Commissioner for Labour and Power who Emmanuel Udom appointed to appease his former power hungry boss.
Most of the few decampees are from Akpabio’s Ikot Ekpene federal constituency consisting of three Local Governments. Another from his senatorial zone is Honorable Emmanuel Ekon who is embroiled in personal battles and has lost grip of PDP stakeholders in his constituency.
There have also been concerns that for a man who built a political career by making enemies instead of friends in his home state, the impact of Akpabio’s defection will be rarely felt.