Despite persistent denial, the rumoured defection of the Akwa Ibom State governor, Emmanuel Udom from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP on whose platform he was elected three years ago to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC has continued to gain ground and is the subject of formal and informal discussions in the state and within the national political circuit.
Coming on the heels of last week’s defection of his political godfather and senate minority leader, Obong Godswill Akpabio to the APC,the planned defection is set to rock the oil- rich state as there is mounting resistance.
Several groups and individuals have upped the stakes in either denying the plot or vowing to resist it.
They include Ibom Patriots, former governorship aspirants and other leading political and opinion leaders.
The Ibom Patriots ,which is at the epicentre of the manouvre has as its members, theimmediate past Commissioner for Transport, Dr Godwin Ntukude, Chairman of Ibom Power, Engr Etido Inyangand others among several notable PDP bigwigs in the state. Rising from a meeting in Uyo over the weekend, members of the group acknowledged the defection plans and passed it off as impracticable.
The Chancellor of the group, ObongBassey Inuayen, who was a strong contender for the office of governor in 2007, said “We have read the rumourthat Deacon Udom Emmanuel plans to defect to APC. We believe those peddling the rumours are hallucinating. Is it possible for a sane person to leave a comfortable house to a dilapidated building?,he asked.
He revealed that on Wednesday last week, stakeholders from Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District met with Governor Udom Emmanuel and he said emphatically that he had no plans to defect to the APC.
“ In the meeting that the governor had with most of us from Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, the governor said that he would rather go home and rest instead of defecting to APC”, Inuayen insisted.
According to the Patriots, Governor Udom’s body language is not that of a man who wants to dump PDP for APC.
“As far as we know, GovernorUdom Emmanuel is not defecting to the APC. The day he is defecting, the Patriots will let you know. But for now, there is no such consideration,” Inuayen stated.
But despite the strong denials from the state government and other supporting groups and individuals, sources from both parties have however lent credence to the planned defection. In 2016, there were also rumours that the governor had perfected plans to defect to APC but it came to naught.
The commissioner for Worksand a close associate of the governor,AkparawaEphraim Inyang- Eyenhad then debunked the rumour,saying: “saying thatGovernor Udom will defect to the APCin his second term, I think is a conjecture and let me sound it very clearly, the governor is a man of character and principles. He is not one of those politicians who would want to jump all over the place because of what they think they could get.”
In APC, the party he is planning to move to, it was also learnt that his move may not be accorded the same treatment that his predecessor in office, Akpabio enjoyed last week.
Senator Anietie Okon, however described the defection rumour as the handiwork of “those who have mis-stepped and overrated themselves. They are finding a way to dig back and be relevant,” he explained.