Four chairmanship aspirants in the recent local government primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Urue Offong/Oruko local government area on Friday dramatically defied last minute appeal from Governor Udom Emmanuel and defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) with over a thousand supporters.
Led by Chief Okon Bassey, a former Member of the State House of Assembly, the aspirants also turned down the appeal of the State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mr. Victor Antai, from neighbouring Mbo local government area, who suddenly surfaced at the Urue Offong/Oruko APC chapter office, Okuko, venue of the defection ceremony, shortly before the event started and knelt down to plead with them.
The aspirants who included Mr. Nkereuwem Enyongekere, Mr. Ntanta Sam Okpo and Kate Nduonofit, said Mr. Antai offered them N20m on behalf of the governor to remain in PDP.
Chief Bassey, who spoke on behalf of the defectors at the ceremony, told the mammoth crowd that Governor Emmanuel spoke with him for about 40 minutes on telephone that morning appealing to him and the others not to defect and promising them money and car gifts.
He said they rejected the Governor’s appeal because the PDP had no chance of retaining power in the state in 2019.
Receiving the defectors who included a former Commissioner in Cross River State , Chief Nukak Ante, the Urue Offong/Oruko Chapter President of Esu Nlap Oro, Mr. Nuke Etim Nuke and Dr. Bassey Willie, a seasoned politician, the State APC Chairman, Dr. Amadu Attai assured them of equal treatment as old members of the party.
The APC Chairman for Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District, Mr. Emmanuel Oton, said it was clear that the party would record a landslide victory in Urue Offong/Oruko.
Engr. Benedict Ukpong, promised the APC State leadership that the party would sweep the polls in Urue Offong/Oruko as it did in 2015.
Engr. Ukpong, the Commissioner representing Akwa Ibom State in the National Population Commission, assured the defectors that they would be fully accommodated in the APC.
A former Chairman of Urue Offong/Oruko Local Government, Chief Edet Isong declared that with the defection the PDP was dead in the area. Chief Isong,Mokafa of Efut, after the event hosted the State Party Chairman, Dr Amadu Atai alongside party Stakeholders at his residence.
The ceremony was attended by notable politicians including the State APC Publicity Secretary, Barr. Edet Eyo Bassey, three former Chairmen of Urue Offong/Oruko Local Government, Mr. Remigius Asuquo, Barr. Effiong Oquong and Chief Okon Tom Usung, a former Chairman of Mbo Local Government, Chief Effiong Johnson, Barr. Effiong Oboho, Arc. Osung Onwefiak, Barr. Omen Bassey, Prince Anwana Ikott, Mr. Iniobong Edmond and Mr. Nse Uya.