By Harris-Okon Emmanuel
THE Akwa Ibom State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP are locked in bitter exchanges over alleged rigging of the February 23 Presidential and National Assembly polls in the state via vote-buying.
The APC threw the first salvo, yesterday and was immediately countered by the PDP.
The Akwa Ibom APC while congratulating President Muhammadu Buhari on his victory in the presidential poll accused the PDP of vote buying.
Members of the party marched through the streets to celebrate the declaration of President Buhari as the winner of the contest, stating that the victory has emboldened the state to go out and win the next polls.
APC Governorship candidate, Obong Nsima Ekere, who addressed a rally at the campaign grounds along Four Lane, Uyo, the state capital, advised the supporters to go back to their respective communities and galvanize the people to come out with their PVCs and vote for the party in the next elections.
Ekere expressed dismay over what he termed the high level of vote-buying experienced in the state in the last presidential and national assembly elections, adding that the party received complaints of vote-buying in almost the 31 local government areas during the last Saturday general election.
He said: “The best news we have heard is the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.What Nigerians have said is that Mr President, you have done well, thank you. Nigerians have said, Mr. President thank you for your transparency and good governance. We are here to say thank you God for giving our President the victory.
“Let me thank the over 15 million Nigerians who voted for Mr President. I know in Akwa Ibom state, many more people voted for the President, that is why they were busy cancelling our votes.
“Never in the history of Nigerian politics have we witnessed the kind of vote-buying as the one we had in Akwa Ibom state on February 23. They complained that there is no money in the state, but during elections, they were able to give between N10, 000 to N20, 000 to voters’’, he said.
Reacting, PDP Publicity Secretary, Comrade Ini Ememobong, described the allegation of vote buying as fictitious and unfounded.
Ememobong urged the opposition party to tender evidences of votes buying by the PDP in the state, stating that the party was only gloating because INEC did not allow it to rig the poll as it had wished.
He said: ‘’We do not do such thing. Vote-buying involves two or more than two persons, the buyers and the sellers. Therefore, let them bring evidence. When we are talking about rigging in the North, evidences abound. Let them come and say where we bought votes. It’s the figment of the imagination of the opposition that lost.
‘’The only influence we had was to go out campaigning. The only influence we had was to ensure that all our candidates emerged in a free and fair nomination. That is the only influence that we had and that was not undue influence. That is influence within the ambit of the law.
‘’INEC in Akwa Ibom has been independent as independence could be. You know what APC wants is to create an INEC that would be an extension of their party, so that when they hijack materials as they did in Essien Udim, they can find who to substitute them. We have no unholy alliance; we have no such relationship with INEC.”