The Akwa Ibom State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC, on Saturday formally received a former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state, Chief Otu Ita Otoyo; former senator, Aloysius Etok, former member of the House of Representatives, Eseme Eyiboh and former chairman of Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area among others, into its fold.
The defectors were received into the party at a prayer summit and reception held in honour of Obong Umana Umana, candidate of the APC in the April 11 governorship election in the state.
The reception followed the nullification of Udom Emmanuel’s election as governor of Akwa Ibom by the Appeal Court.
The court delivered judgment in an appeal by Umana challenging the Independent National Electoral Commission’s declaration of Emmanuel, who was the PDP candidate, as winner of the governorship poll.
While the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal nullified Governor Emmanuel’s victory in 18 out of 35 local government areas of the state, prompting the APC to appeal the decision, the court of appeal canceled the entire election and ordered a re-run.
Gov. Emmanuel has however, approached the Supreme Court to set aside the ruling of the lower courts.
In their separate remarks, the defectors noted that the PDP was no longer the party they once believed in, lamenting that it has been hijacked by a few people.
Toyo specifically berated the PDP for deviating from the ideals upon which the party was founded, stressing that is the reason Akwa Ibom people are clamouring for change.
He, therefore, called on people of the state to embrace the change which APC represents.
“We brought change to Akwa Ibom in 2007, but that change has been hijacked by a few people for themselves. I screamed but nobody listened, today, Akwa Ibom people have decided for change and as such have moved to a new party”, he said.
On his part, two term senator, Etok, thanked Umana Umana for “championing the struggle to liberate the state”, assuring that the APC administration will redeem the state and reposition it to achieve unfulfilled potentials.
Speaking in the same vein, Eyibo, who was former spokesperson of the House of Representatives, said he was joining the APC, to “take part in the struggle to rescue the state and its people”.
He maintained that things cannot be allowed to continue as they are.
Receiving the defectors and their supporters into the party, South-South National Vice Chairman of the APC, Chief Hilliard Eta, said this time around, they would defend every vote cast by the party in Akwa Ibom.
Mr. Eta also lamented the violence that marred the last election and urged the people not to be intimidated by the PDP, assuring that security agents and thugs will not be allowed to disrupt the forthcoming re-run.
“The former governor, Godswill Akpabio has done a lot of things and he will be made to account for them. All those who are working against good governance will not be allowed to succeed”, he said.
When it finally got to the turn of the APC candidate, Umana, to speak, he hailed the decampees for their courage, saying with their support and that of Akwa Ibom electorate, they will reclaim “their stolen mandate”.
The former Akwa Ibom SGF also thanked the people for standing against what he called tyranny and injustice, stating that, “the God of justice and blood of innocent voters killed during the the past election will see the party to victory”.
“The victories at both the tribunal and Appeal Court are not just for me as a person. They are for the people. You have proven that no weapon or amount of money can break you. The battle is between freedom and slavery and this event has shown that the people have chosen freedom”, he added.
Umana urged the people to further show their support by turning up en mass to cast their votes during the forthcoming elections just as he hailed President Muhammadu Buhari for his anti-corruption stance, encouraging him to carry on.
He also assured the president of the support of Akwa Ibomites.
Earlier, Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Chief Ita Awak, said the turn out at the event is an indication that money is not the ultimate.
“Today, we have put to shame people who say what money cannot do, more money will. We did not give these people here anything. We only appealed to their conscience, to come together and pray so that the state can be exorcised. The people came here to rescue themselves. What you are seeing is a mass movement. The state is the richest in Nigeria, yet the people are not feeling the impact. Change has come and there is no going back”, he said.
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