APC’ll unseat PDP in 2019 — Ita Awak
By Chioma Onuegbu
Chief Nduese Essien is a prominent political leader and elder in Eket Senatorial district, Akwa Ibom State. He was a two term member of the House of Representatives and a former Minister for Lands, Housing and Urban Development. In this interview, he says that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is not threatened by the defection of Senator Nelson Asuquo Effiong to the All Progressives Congress, APC. Excerpts:
How do you see last week’s defection of Senator Nelson Effiong, from the PDP to the APC?
What I would say is that Nelson Effiong’s defection from the PDP to the APC is an example of political rascality built on impunity. Nelson Effiong had an easy ride to the Senate on the PDP ticket because of the overwhelming influence of the party in the senatorial district and the state. The people voted for him on the grounds that he had been a two-term member of the state House of Assembly and was a speaker for one of the two terms.
He was expected to perform creditably well because of his experience. But regrettably he did not match the expectation because for the almost 18 months that he was a PDP senator, he never for once called a meeting of the senatorial district or his federal constituency or even his Local Government to report performance. His exit is therefore not a loss to the district and the state. Our only regret is that he has wasted the Senate seat for the period.
Many in the state view his defection as a plus to the APC considering that there has always been a struggle between the PDP and APC to be in control of the Oro nation where Nelson Effiong hails from. What is your position on that?
Oro nation cannot be gotten by any party through Senator Nelson Effiong. He has left the PDP but he has not gone out with anybody.
Dividends of democracy
Most of the people that backed him during the last election have said that they are not going with him to his new party and I doubt whether the few APC members in Oro nation believe and have confidence in him. He failed to deliver dividends of democracy in 18 months in the Senate when he was not heard of, when he was not reaching out to people, so whatever regards that Oro people had for him has disappeared.
But there are speculations that more PDP members from the state in the National Assembly would join the APC soon
We don’t see who from Akwa Ibom State that is in the Senate, that would want to join him in defecting. Is it the minority leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio? or is it Senator Bassey Albert? Those are serious minded people who have performed.
No right thinking person that knows the strength of the PDP in the state would want to follow him to the APC. The fact that the APC even has more problems in its party management, no reasonable person will want to leave the little problem in the PDP to go to the larger problems in the APC.
Speculation has it that his defection was not unconnected with the plan by the senatorial district to replace him. What is your take?
People were thinking of replacing him because of his ineffectiveness and inability to report back on his activities. There was no way he could have been returned for a second term and he knew it.
The PDP in the state insists of recalling him, are you going ahead with that decision?
We have decided to use any available constitutional method to recover our mandate from him. We call it recovering of our mandate from him and not recalling him, because the recall process is such a tedious process that may not be attainable. So we are recovering our mandate.
No other legal process. We don’t even want to wait for the 2019 polls. We are looking for other ways of taking the mandate from him before the end of his tenure. As for second term, he could not have gotten it at all.
Don’t you see it as a big slap on the governor that the Senator from his senatorial district joined another party?
It is not a slap on the governor because it is not the governor that sent him to the senate. It was the senatorial district that nominated him and voted for him to represent them at the senate.
APC’ll unseat PDP in 2019 — Ita Awak
Mr. Ita Awak is the spokesman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Akwa Ibom State. In this interview, he views the defection of Senator Nelson Effiong of Akwa Ibom South senatorial district from the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, as a plus to the party. Excerpts:
Senator Nelson Effiong of Akwa Ibom South senatorial district recently dumped his party, the PDP for the APC. What does it signify for your party?
From all intents and purposes, the defection of Senator Nelson Effiong is a plus for the APC. Nelson Effiong is a distinguished senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, from Akwa Ibom South senatorial district, who has now declared for the APC. It is a welcome development by all standards. Our party at the national, state, senatorial and federal constituency levels is happy about this development and we will do anything to sustain it and make sure it stands.
There are speculations that the APC is plotting to woo all Akwa Ibom PDP members at the National Assembly ahead of 2019. Is Effiong’s defection in line with the alleged plan?
We are determined that in 2019, the APC will form the government of Akwa Ibom State. We find the current PDP government to be very deceitful, dishonest and disrespectful to Akwa Ibom people. This is a government that does not believe in accountability and transparency. So we are determined and we will do anything within our power to make sure that his government is changed and in 2019 that the APC forms the government in Akwa Ibom State.
But how are you going to achieve that considering that the PDP has been the predominant party in this state for many years?
It is wrong for anyone to draw that conclusion. I don’t know the basis you draw that conclusion that Akwa Ibom state is predominantly PDP. That is a wrong assessment. Nigeria was ruled for 16 years by the PDP and it took us just one election to topple that government. So it is on the basis of that that I said that your conclusion that Akwa Ibom is predominantly PDP is erroneous.