During the February 23 Presidential/National Assembly elections, the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP in Akwa Ibom State delivered the state for its flag bearer former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
The PDP presidential candidate Abubakar polled 395,832 votes to defeat President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, APC who polled 175,429 votes, but the victory has turned out to be hollow.
This is because the state government now has a tougher battle it must fight – the battle for its very own survival. And this battle is turning out to be far, far tougher than the Udom Emmanuel-led Government anticipated.
The tag-team of APC’s governorship candidate in the state, Nsima Ekere and Senator Godswill Akpabio did a fantastic job to deliver Akwa Ibom to Buhari, achieving 175, 429 votes despite alleged state-backed widespread rigging.
Most observers believe that the APC won in the state – but a collision between the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC and the State Government resulted in an entirely different poll result being announced after the election.
In spite of that, the APC was able to pull down the 953,000 votes the PDP got in Akwa Ibom back in 2015 to just 395,000 votes – a fatal blow to the presidential ambitions of Atiku Abubakar.
It has now become obvious that the PDP in the state severely miscalculated – believing that Akwa Ibom could deliver more than a million votes to Atiku. They had believed strongly that PDP would win at the national level, thereby paving the way for an easy return to Akwa Ibom government house in March.
Their calculation has now proved awfully misplaced. While APC got what they were looking for in the state, PDP threw an excessive amount of effort into the battle. They spent most of their money on the first election, believing they would need less on the second. They also brought in all the tricks of the game, all of which are now known to all parties in the contest.
It is now evidently clear how smart APC’s decision to hold back in the first election, letting the natural anger of the people against the slow-moving PDP, as well as the popularity of the candidates, bring them votes. So while the PDP is spent and exhausted, the APC is just getting started – and this time with national force behind its back.
Already, sources say that PDP stakeholders have started reaching out to the APC team, hoping for a soft landing.
Considering the large amounts Udom spent, let us also hope that the banker-turned Governor will not have a lot of explaining to do about what the source of this money is, as soon as his Governorship immunity expires.
Tim Obot, a political analyst writes from Akwa Ibom.