By Inem Pius
On Monday 30th January, President Muhammadu Buhari will visit Akwa Ibom State for the 3rd time since he assumed office in 2015. The president will be accompanied by the All Progressives Congress, APC, and top brass in the country.
The essence of Buhari’s visit is to campaign for the Presidential candidate of his party Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Apart from the fallen economy and dwindling general well-being of the masses, the president will have enough footing in Akwa Ibom State to campaign for his party having appointed sons and daughters of the state to various positions in his administration.
He has also initiated the construction of dilapidated popular Calabar/Itu road and orchestrated approval for the construction of Ibom Deep Seaport.
That once scattered APC leaders in Akwa Ibom State can be so organized for the presidential visit and their party campaign in the state is something surprising for many. However, the peace and unity APC in Akwa Ibom State is enjoying today cannot be ostracized from the proactive measures taken by the present Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Umana Okon Umana to bring party leaders and stakeholders for a common course. It can be recalled that the APC in Akwa Ibom State started sinking as soon as the former Governor of the state, Senator Godswill Akpabio was absorbed into the party. During his defection rally at Ikot Ekpene stadium, the then APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomole, after receiving Akpabio into the party, openly declared him as the new leader of the party in Akwa Ibom State.
This political act of insensitivity did not go down well with many party bigwigs who peddled the party with their sweat to where Akpabio came to meet. Akpabio’s presence in APC has wrought more tears and regret for those who gave him open arms. Even the very people who thronged the party with him had long returned to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, where they all came from. The last action that sent every APC member haywire was when Akpabio forced a new state chairman in the person of Mr Ntukekpo on leaders of the party after congratulating a duly elected state chairman of APC.
Today, peace has been restored in APC and virtually everyone is happy. Thanks to the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Umana Okon Umana, who after a few months of his appointment as Minister, brokered a truce that has resulted in peace the party now enjoys.
The journey began on Thursday 30th December 2022 when Umana Umana initiated a peace meeting where all critical stakeholders in the party converged in his house for reconciliation after a series of crises. In the meeting, the Minister out rightly briefed the stakeholders that he convened the meeting to initiate a dialogue among the stakeholders with a view to proffering a solution to the lingering crisis in the party.
Mr. Umana also noted that it was his intention to get every stakeholder involved in the preparation for the APC presidential campaign rally.
On the crises that engulfed the Party, Umana urged party stakeholders to cease dwelling in the past and rather look at the bigger picture that the future holds for the party in the state.
“Let us move away from petty bickering and wrangling over the past. Now, we are to focus on the APC presidential rally while strategic steps are being taken to peacefully redress the protracted challenges in our party”. Unama’s statement and other people’s speeches heralded a new phase in APC today.
Beyond this, the wife of the Minister, Florence Umana has been working round the clock to mobilize women, youths and the elderly for the election of Bola Tinubu. Since December, she has initiated different empowerment programmes to woo eligible voters for the election of Tinubu. For now, she is the only rallying point for women mobilisation for the party in the state.
The implication of this peace move is that, APC has come out more formidable to weather any political challenge. Although the legal battle instituted by Senator Ita Enang against the Governorship candidate of the party in the state, Obong Akan Udofia has drained off people’s zeal and commitment, the recent Appeal Court victory is a welcome development and it can be said to be a political booster that will bring a positive result.
With the peace achieved in the party through the instrumentality of Umana Okon Umana, APC is ready to square up with other political parties in the state to wrestle power, especially from the trouble-infested PDP. Now that different interests have been buried, the APC Presidential candidate should rest assured that he will get the needed votes from Akwa Ibomites that will galvanize him into victory.
Inem Pius is a public affairs analyst and political commentator.
Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of Vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.