Pastor Ekomobong Akpan is the Akwa Ibom state chairman of Alliance For Democracy, chairman inter party advisory council, IPAC. In this interview with PAULINUS NTA, he speaks on what IPAC expects from Governor Udom Emmanuel in his second term in office, the conduct of the 2019 general elections and other issues of state importance.
Your party, The Alliance for Democracy did not win any of the local governments in your State. What happened?
That my party did not win election does not mean the elections were not free and fair. As far as the INEC have declared the winners, no lives were lost and I did not physically see rigging, I can say boldly that the elections were free and fair. I don't see democracy as a system of government, but a state of political evolution. We are evolving in our democratic experiment so we should not expect perfection yet. We are trying and I believe with precision that some day very soon, Nigerian democracy will be a reference point to world politics.
But allegations of massive vote buying by the PDP is still raging. What's your take on this?
Well, inducement, appreciation lobbying are related to the electoral processes in developing democracies like ours. In as much as I am not lending credence to them, they have always been spotted in post colonial politics. Maybe some people lobbied or induced or appreciated their supporters. May be the allegations are true or maybe false. But I cannot make a categorical statement about that. We were carried along in the auditing of the elections materials from the Central Bank to voting units in each of the 31 local governments of the state. May be some people did that in the dark. I cannot say it because I did not see it.
It is equally reported that election materials were snatched and diverted by influential politicians, for instance in Essien Udim, Ikot Abasi and other parts of the state. What did your team do in those two local governments?
IPAC is not a security organization. We are a political group, made up of civilians. It is the duty of the law enforcement agencies to accost such persons with the aid of arms and they are protected by their arms and the law to do. We cannot do that like I said earlier, if there were issues like that, influential politicians must have done that discreetly. Those who saw them should have raised enough alarm to attract the law enforcement agencies or seek redress in a court of competent jurisdiction. It did not happen in my Local Government, else, I would have raised enough alarm.
But you said your team audited the materials from the Central Bank to the voting units?
What I did not see, I cannot talk about. Let those who saw it seek redress from the court, but from IPAC's point to view, the elections were free, fair and credible. We have to leave the baggage of yesterday and face the realities of tomorrow. And upon the wreckages of yesterday, designs the structures of tomorrow. Court cases and tribunal, will not do us any good, rather, it will distract the government, create and gravitate enmity.
We have so many political parties that contested the elections, so if IPAC, which represents all of them, says the elections were free and fair, I don't see any wisdom in litigation by any candidate. It shows that person or persons were pursuing their personal agenda.
What is your word for those at the tribunal?
You see, IPAC is a neutral body. Though we had our individual party interests at heart, but at the IPAC level, we are constituted to deepen and consolidate democracy in Nigeria and particularly in our various states. It is an irony of situation and it clearly portrays the overbidding personal and selfish interests of those at the tribunal. As you can see, Akwa Ibom IPAC is complete now. Before, we did not have representative from the All Progressives Congress, but now, the APC has joined IPAC. If the leaders of all political parties in the state come together and endorse an election and a few individuals, who were only members of those parties, say they want to go to court, it is ridiculous!
Your Words for Akwa Ibom Youths
Akwa Ibom youth have, over the years, been used, exploited and abused. Their future has been mortgaged and sacrificed on the table of selfish interests of influential politicians. They should free themselves from mental slavery and imprisonment. They should resist attempts by selfish politicians to be used to foment crises in the state, at the detriment of their future.
What does IPAC expect from Udom in his second term?
For us to move forward as a people, the governor should run a participatory government. He should double efforts in tackling unemployment. The industrialization project should be realistic and impactful. Jobs should be created to take the youth from the streets. He should appoint development minded men of integrity into his cabinet. One way of boosting the economy is constant power supply. If the governor can ensure this in his second term as he always promised, our youths will be busy, the economy will receive a boost and crime will reduce drastically.