Over the weekend, the Akwa Ibom state public witnessed the climax of a weeklong protracted war of words between two opposing elements within the state opposition party All Progressives Congress, APC. This necessitated my initial title to this treatise “Containing Opposition Within An Opposition.”
The main rivals in the fiasco, Senator John Akpanudoedehe and Mr Umana Umana used the opportunity provided to show that there was no love lost between them, forcing their supporters to be confused by the ugly trend that metamorphosed into media attacks and counter attacks.
The axiom that every disappointment is a blessing in disguise found expression in the scenario which played itself out to the gallery, witnessing the most odious naked dance steps by supposed elders. As various forms of filthy linens were displayed in the gallery.
In hush tones, in social gatherings and at informal settings, people pinched themselves to recount the startling revelations brought about in the fiasco, a reminder of the Ibibio adage that “usen akwa afim ke esikid efut unen.” Whether the two factions in the APC that came out with scathing revelations about the cause(s) of their internal wrangling are saying the truth or not, is not the basic issue, what is most important is that there is more to the posture or position of the party than meet the eyes, or the ordinary eyes.
First it was Senator Udoedehe whose interview on the morning of Saturday November 8, opened a can of worms in respect of Mr Umana Umana. Udoedehe accused Umana Umana of being the mastermind of kidnappings and high profile murders during the administration of former governor Godswill Akpabio. He accused Umana of complicity in the attempted kidnap of his mother and also blamed him for his premature exit from the PDP in 2009, maintaining that if Governor Akpabio had not appointed people like Umana into his government, he wouldn’t have had cause to oppose the former governor who he admitted did well in the areas of infrastructural development. He justified his claim by asserting that as soon as Umana left the government of Chief Akpabio in 2013, kidnapping and political assassinations ended in the state.
The former senator also announced how Umana sold a large property at Ikoyi for as much as N1.6bn out of which N1.3bn was used for the illegal acquisition of the party hierarchy in Abuja, as obvious in his successful acquiring of the ticket of the party despite not meeting the needed electoral criteria of legitimate membership of the party and meeting the electoral deadline of governorship candidates. As an insider with a seven year membership strength, and an intimidating profile as the only Board of Trustees member from Akwa Ibom State, Udoedehe knows just very much on details of the shady deals that Umana may have rode on to fame, in a party that gave him a ticket for an election when he was barely 11 days old as member of the party.
This nature of shady deal has continued to bring to fore, the nagging question of irresponsibility and rascality bedeviling the political consciousness of people who preach and promised change in the approach to politics in the State. Or was it change for the worst?
As if that was not enough, it was Ita Awak the factional spokesperson for the state APC who went on air to announce that Senator Akpanudoedehe refused all efforts made to pacify him and restore peace in the party. Awak whose credibility had always been in doubt, is enmeshed in a controversy following allegations that he was impersonating the real Publicity Secretary of the party Mr Samuel Udobong. Udobong’s disclaimer as published in some media warned Ita against illegal parade as publicity secretary when he had never contested for the position in any state congress of the party. While the notoriety of Mr Ita Awak’s illegitimacy is a subject for another day, it would not be out of place to state that his interregnum as illegal publicity secretary has brought to fore the level to which the desperate ignoble ambition of Mr Umana Umana can lead him. Udoedehe had alleged that Umana got engaged in fetish oath taking and diabolical covenants that scared the living daylight out of his opponents. “A party that I built and nurtured, yet my party executive members abandoned me because I did not administer local oaths on them and they choose to worship the devil (Umana) because they were bonded.
But Awak in his confessional interview disclosed that Mr Umana Umana traded certain aspect of governance to Udoedehe to earn unassailable grip of the gubernatorial ticket. Armed like a fairy tale parrot, Awak shamelessly revealed that Umana’s offer to Udoedehe included among other things, an offer to produce 5 commissioners in the State executive council, and 5 local government chairmen from any area of his choice, including assurances that he becomes minister in the event that the Muhammadu Buhari wins at the polls.
But Akpanudoedehe’s reaction that Umana was a blackmailer who went round telling people that he had bought the party’s governorship ticket. Senator Udoedehe said that if he was gullible as Umana alleged, he would have stayed on in PDP and continue to enjoy the benefits he got as a state caucus member in the Akpabio administration, especially having served as campaign manager to the former governor. “So is Umana saying that he is replacing my years of struggle with money? That’s very wrong.” Udoedehe had fumed. As if that was not enough, the embattled APC chieftain revealed that Umana bought his campaign manager Udoma Ekarika, and his former running mate Late Ime Umana with stupendous wealth that he cannot account for.
At the risk of sounding immodest, can Umana Umana really be trusted or should Udoedehe’s allegations be taken with a pinch of salt? Udoedehe has insisted that Umana is a questionable character who had no business in government. “If someone is given power, he can easily use such power to destroy and save lives and through the instrumentality of Mr Umana, several cultists found their way to power in the last administration, especially at the local government level.”
His argument is buttressed by the scenario in which the former SSG has brought the same crop of people to come and destabilize the APC. But Udoedehe assured his people that the impunity imported by Umana to the APC will soon be resolved by the court. He debunked Umana’s persistent claim spewed all over media that there is no pre-election governorship case in court as he was still aggressively pushing for recognition as the authentic candidate who contested against Governor Udom Emmanuel on April 11, 2015.
But Awak in replying to claims of membership of the party said that they are all migrants to the APC and that Udoedehe cannot claim to be the only opposition figure in the state. “Udoedehe was a migrant, we are all migrants and I am a recent migrant.” And so the fight, accusations and counter accusations ensue.
The funny contradiction in the battle by the two opposing forces within the opposition APC is that they are battling to place on record the actual loser in the April 11, 2015 governorship election. It is a battle that whoever emerges winner, ends up as the loser to the actual winner. So the question is, what are they fighting for?