In a major realignment of forces in Mkpat Enin, one of the largest local government areas in Akwa Ibom State, the member representing the area in the House of Assembly, Engr. Otobong Ndem, last Tuesday, defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives' Congress, (APC,) with hundreds of his supporters.
Ndem announced his defection, when he led a delegation of his supporters in several buses on a solidarity visit to the Akwa Ibom State APC Gubernatorial Candidate, Obong Nsima Ekere, at the latter's country home in Ikot Oboroenyin, Edemaya, Ikot Abasi Local Government Area of the state.
Among the defectors on the delegation were the Mkpat Enin PDP Local Government Chapter Deputy Chairman, Mr. Ukonsek Ukonsek, the Secretary, Comrade Ubong Kingsley, the Youth Leader, Mr. Ime Inoh, and some other members of the Chapter Executive Committee, a former Chapter Chairman, Chief Friday Ayara, a former Chapter Secretary, Comrade Umoren Umoren, a former Member of the State House of Assembly, Mr. Ini Brown Ekanem, a former Chairman of Mkpat Enin Local Government, Dr. Imowo Udobia, a former Vice Chairman of the local government, Mr. Godwin Udofot, and a former Leader of the Local Government Legislative Council, Mr. Friday Okobo.
Ndem said at the colourful and largely unprecedented event, that with his defection and those of his followers, the PDP structure in Mkpat Enin, the local government area with the highest number of wards (14) in the state, had collapsed totally into the APC and the result will materialize in the emergence of Ekere as the next governor of Akwa Ibom state.
He assured Ekere of huge votes from the area, saying, "With the votes of Mkpat Enin, you will be strolling into Hilltop Mansion. We believe in you because you are one of our own. We have no reason not to support you. We are here because we see the future of Akwa Ibom State. We want to end tortoise politics in Akwa Ibom State. We are not prepared to support you from behind. We are not ready to play submarine politics. We are ready to support you openly."
Also speaking, Ukonsek described their delegation as the "crack team" of Mkpat Enin politics, promising that "we will show the world that we own Mkpat Enin" when they hold a formal defection ceremony at home soon.
Responding, Nsima Ekere expressed delight that the wind of change had reached Mkpat Enin which shares the federal constituency with his local government area, Ikot Abasi. He reasoned that at the rate the wind of change was spreading across the state, the APC was heading for a 90 per cent win in the 2019 elections. Ekere, who is the incumbent Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), pointed out that there were several ongoing NDDC projects in Mkpat Enin under his watch and promised to do more for the area as NDDC boss and subsequently as Governor.
In her remarks, the immediate past Deputy Governor of the state, Lady Valerie Ebe, who defected to the APC last month, commended Ndem for acting in wisdom and courage, adding that she saw it coming.
Her words, "Right from the day I defected, I knew this would happen. I am not surprised. When I left, I knew you will all follow me. The people of Mkpat Enin are itching to support you (Ekere). Nobody should call himself a political junction. We have to follow a straight line." Ebe rejected claims that she was supporting Ekere to be Governor to enable her succeed him as NDDC boss, "I am working for the success of my son (Ekere) here. I am not looking for position. We don't want any position."
The APC Akwa Ibom South Senatorial Chairman, Dr. Inyang Dan-Abia, who represented the State Chairman, said he was impressed with the quality of members of the delegation who he described as foot-soldiers that have determined Mkpat Enin politics over the years.
He lauded them for coming to support Ekere, who he eulogized as "a world-class successful businessman and administrator and a man who is well-exposed in the management of resources."
Present during the visit were the APC Deputy Gubernatorial Candidate, Dr. Amadu Attai, the APC House of Assembly Candidate for Mkpat Enin State Constituency, Prince Iboro Ekpo, the APC State Assistant Legal Adviser, Barr. Inyang Udo, the Mkpat Enin APC Caucus Chairman, Apostle John Okoriko, the Special Assistant to the NDDC Managing Director on Administration and Human Resources, Pastor Udo Isaiah, the immediate past Member of the House of Representatives for Ikot Abasi/Eastern Obolo/Mkpat Enin Federal Constituency, Dr. Akpan Micah Umoh, and a former Chairman of Ikot Abasi Local Government, Prince Enobong Ufot.