The ambition of a top chairman of the PDP to become governor in 2031 is beginning to threaten the peace in the Ukanafun Local Government chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Akwa Ibom State.
The general belief is that at the expiration of the two terms of the current governor, Pastor Umo Eno in 2031, the Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, and in particular, the Old Abak bloc, will produce his successor. Ukanafun belongs here.
But the handling of a directive by the governor to leaders of the party in all the local government areas, including Ukanafun, that party leaders should nominate one person per ward for appointment as his personal assistant appears to have caused bad blood among party members in the local government.
In giving the directive, the governor was said to have instructed clearly, that all nominees must be resident in the very ward of their origin, and not those who only visit. The governor was said to have also instructed that no party leader should leave his ward to go and influence the choice of nominees elsewhere.
But TNN learnt that a certain leader of the party who is suspected to be having his eyes on the seat of governor ahead of 2031 ignored the instruction and decided to direct some legislators and party chieftains to replace the people they nominated.
One of the legislators was said to have insisted that he would not replace his nominee, as the decision on his nominee was not a unilateral one. The position did not go down well with the party leader who ignored him and went ahead to replace the nominee with his own candidate and thereafter submitted the name to the governor.
The same decision was said to have been taken in other wards, including the ward of a former commissioner of information who is equally the leader of his own ward.
In ward 10 for example, all the stakeholders there chose a former supervisor and agent of the party for the position, but the party leader who hails from a different ward objected and got someone of his choice.
The party leader was said to have summoned a meeting at the Uyo residence of one of the chieftains of the party to discuss the list and why he had objected to some of the nominees and at the meeting, was said to have asked one of the lawmakers to yield to his demand and change his nominee.
The lawmaker was said to have walked out of the meeting when the party leader mounted more pressure, a demand he rejected. TNN learnt that the duo nearly exchanged blows at the meeting before the lawmaker walked out.
Sources said that the party leader may be making efforts to put his structures in place ahead of the 2031 gubernatorial election, hence his resolve to put his loyalists in various positions.
TNN learnt that some of the people whose names have been accepted by the party leader and subsequently submitted to the governor were not resident in their villages as instructed by the governor.
For example, a former councillor who lives in Akpan Ikpo street in Abak, has been accepted as nominee and his name submitted to the governor. Another political leader from one of the wards who also lives in Abak has been accepted as a nominee, just as the nominee who lives off stadium road, Abak has been listed for the appointment.
TNN made efforts to speak with the party leader but he would not take our calls, neither did he respond to our messages. One of the lawmakers that TNN reached refused to speak on the issue, saying he did not feel like talking about it.
But the nominees who knew about their rejection by the party leader are now threatening to leave the PDP for the opposition APC, which the senate president, Senator Godswill Akpabio currently leads in the state.
Some of them told TNN that it was wrong for their names to have been dropped by the party leader after they worked for the party’s victory, only for others to be considered. They said they would leave the party with their followers if the leadership did nothing about the situation.