As the race for the Akwa Ibom North-West (Ikot Ekpene) Senatorial District seat enters its crucial stages ahead of the February 25 Presidential and National polls, leading contender on the platform of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Ekon, has cleared the air on the controversy making the rounds that he was fronting for the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
Speaking in an interview in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital at the weekend, the former House of Representatives member for Abak Federal Constituency, dismissed the rumour as “a deliberately orchestrated propaganda by mischief makers with evil intent to break the ranks of my teeming supporters across the 10 Local Government Areas of Akwa Ibom North-West.”
Ekon, a former two-term member and chairman of the Local Content Committee in the 9th National Assembly, noted that “the major aim of the purveyors of such infantile and baseless falsehood are my competitors who are afraid of my towering popularity amongst the electorates, who are willing and ready to join hands with me to address decades of discrimination and injustice against the people of Abak Federal Constituency, who had never produced a Senator in the last 60 years.”
While urging his supporters to “disregard the cheap lies intended to again rob the Abak Federal Constituency of its long and overdue right in 2023”, Ekon recalled that the slot had over the years been rotated only between the Ikot Ekpene, Ukanafun/Oruk and Ikono/Ini Federal Constituencies, leaving the zone he described as Abak-3, comprising of Abak, Etim Ekpo and Ika LGAs, to wallow in wanton underdevelopment, infrastructural decay and joblessness amongst the youths.
He said, “I, and Godswill Akpabio, we don’t belong to the same political party. Godswill is a member of APC from Essien Udim LGA in Ikot Ekpene Federal Constituency. By the grace of God, I am a candidate of the YPP, from Etim Ekpo, in Abak Federal Constituency. My major mission is to return to the Red Chamber in order to address this injustice meted on the zone for several years.
“I thank God for Chief Don Etiebet, he is a member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the APC, from Ukanafun/Oruk Anam Federal Constituency. He pointedly told Akpabio to leave this contest for only contenders from Abak-3, for the sake of justice, equity and fair play, yet he (Godswill) remains adamant, even when it was obvious that the former Deputy Inspector General of (DIG) Udom Ekpoudom, my kinsman from Etim Ekpo LGA, was on the verge of getting the ticket.
“I am urging stakeholders, elders, leaders and youths including all eligible voters from the zone to rise up against this bare-face impunity and injustice against a people who had over the years chosen the path of honour to wait for these number of years. Therefore, we must take the battle in our hands to correct this anomaly with our permanent voter cards (PVCc) beginning with the Presidential and National Assembly polls on February 25.
“So, I am appealing to everyone desirous of this all-important change to be armed with their PVCs to effect this necessary change peacefully, so that empowerment, jobs and infrastructural development can also locate the people in other areas. Godswill surrendered the slot in 2019 to outgoing Senator Chris Ekpenyong, his kinsman from the same Federal Constituency. Now, he is angling for the same seat again, it’s time to stop this unhealthy cycle for equity and fair play.
“I have been there for eight years in the Green Chamber and the records are there. As the Chairman of the Local Content Committee for four years (2015 -2019), beneficiaries of oil industry jobs, training, scholarships, skills acquisition, empowerment and infrastructural development are there for people to see courtesy of my effective representation.
“Then the latitude of my representation was small, this time around, going to the Red Chamber with your support, I promise to bring a new narrative of development as a ranking member with a larger latitude. I understand the essential needs of the people as we campaign across wards and villages of the Senatorial District.
“Let there be fresh air in Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, the younger generation must embrace a new paradigm shift from the old order. I understand people are being paid N10,000 each for their PVCs. I want to implore you, If they come to you, collect the money, it’s your own, but don’t trade your conscience because if you do, you have sold yours for eight years.”