Eno Umorok Puma is a retired Army officer, president of Akwa Ibom people in the Diaspora (Europe), Chairman, PDP Defenders, Ikot Abasi Federal Constituency and a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party. In this interview with PAULINUS NTA in Uyo, he bares his mind on the Need for stakeholders, including the opposition, to close ranks and work for the development of Akwa Ibom state.
The Elections Petition Tribunal sitting at Uyo, has ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to allow the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Obong Nsima Ekere, to inspect the materials, used during the March 9th gubernatorial election in your state. What does this mean to you?
Even if they inspect 10 times and the election is conducted 10 times, the APC can never win in Akwa Ibom State. What do they want to inspect? The election was free and fair. In fact, ever since I retired from the military and joined politics, that was the freest and fairest elections I have ever witnessed. The APC has nothing to show at the tribunal. They should surrender and join hands with Gov. Udom Emmanuel to develop the state. It will be an exercise in futility and an empty academic exercise. Udom Emmanuel won overwhelmingly. They should either congratulate the winners or quit the scene
It is alleged that the governor fingered the state treasury to fund elections, to the tune of buying votes for #5,000 each, in a state rated as second in unemployment rate?
If electoral victory were to be bought with money, I think the APC stands a better chance than the PDP. They have the federal treasury, the federal might and all the institutions of power. How can the state government have more money than the federal? When a suspect is accused of a crime, he is paraded with the exhibit, if the APC is accusing the PDP of buying votes, why didn't they buy votes too, or raise alarm, or arrest the perpetrators? They are simply crying foul.
Akwa Ibom State is a PDP State. The state government has performed well and won the heart of the people. That's why they gave him overwhelming support. If they have any money left, they should keep it and stop wasting their time in petitioning. We have won the elections, we have won.
Allegations also had it that permanent voters card were collected from the villagers in exchange for money, even before the elections
All those are the panting of defeated fighters. It might interest you to know that the APC did not do any work.
They depended heavily on what they called the federal might. They thought president, Buhari will interfere in Akwa Ibom elections. They did not do any campaign; rather, they only engaged themselves in fanfare. We combed the state from units to villages, to wards. We did not expect any miracle from the “top,” because we only had God. The PDP talked to the grassroots on issues. We presented our score cards which includes the industrialization of the state, the food sufficiency rate, the peace in the state, political stability, and others.
But in the APC, nobody was prepared for election, even the candidates themselves. The candidate believed in federal government fiat and their supporters were all money eaters”. The APC was solely funded by Nsima Ekere. No APC chieftain in the state was sincere about winning elections, because they knew they were not popular. None of them spent any money. All of them came to get their share of the national cake.
They saw Nsima Ekere as one big cake everybody must eat. He is my brother, we come from the same place, Ikot Abasi, but I knew that he will not win; that's why I did not support him. All his lieutenants stole his money.
When he gives money to his middlemen to go and mobilize support, they put the money in their banks and give peanuts to their subordinates, who also saw the little money as their share. They all saw that time as the only opportunity they will ever have to get money from him.
Nobody worked for Nsima Ekere because they never believed he will win.
But in the PDP, every resource was accounted for. We went to the grassroots. We interacted with them; we felt their pulse and had a social contract with them. Apart from the thorough campaign we did, it is only the PDP that has the political network and structure across the state. All his anchormen have bought lands, some build houses in Uyo and others have invested the money they got from Nsima Ekere after the elections. So if I were in the APC, I would advise him to seek appointment or something else at the federal level, not the governorship of Akwa Ibom State.
But anything can happen at the tribunal
The PDP won on ground. The governorship candidate of the APC lost in his local government Area. The special adviser to the president, Senator Ita Enang lost in his local government area. The minister of budgets and economic planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma lost, Senator Akpabio lost, Senator Udoedehe lost, Obong Umana Okon Umana and indeed all the big wigs and appointees of the federal government lost. What will they use to justify their claims that they were robbed?
In my opinion, two things account for why the APC lost woefully. One, they did not work for the election because they believed President Buhari will interfere in Akwa Ibom State elections.
Two, all the people that surrounded Nsima Ekere were not sincere to him, they either went to collect his money or to betray him because they suspected he would truncate the existing zoning arrangement by seeking a second term as governor.
Many critics believe Gov. Emmanuel is not sincere in fighting unemployment. They base their argument on the inability of these industries to address unemployment, massive spending on political initiatives and the recent purchase of the controversial Ibom Air, even when the celebrated industries have not impacted on the economy of the state. What's your take on this?
Most of these critics are reckless and not thorough. Industrialization is a process, not an event. The European industrial revolution did not happen one year; it took a long time to bear the fruits they are reaping today. I have spent many years in Europe and I know the role of industrialization on both the economy and the culture of a people. They should give the state government sometime to change the narrative. This is why I call on the APC to stop distracting the governor and waste their time and money in the tribunal. Law does not use magic, but facts and evidence. They don't have any fact; they don't have any evidence. So they are embarking on a journey to nowhere.