September 27, 2022

A former senator who represented Akwa Ibom North-east Senatorial District, Effiong Bob, in an interview with UKO ETIM bears his mind on the political struggles within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP),  Akwa Ibom state and Nigeria.
You are the chairman of the PDP reconciliation committee. How far have you gone in reconciling aggrieved members of the party ahead of next year’s election?
“We have gone very far. We have spoken with all the aspirants and candidates that came out of the last primaries and congresses and my duty was to talk about the party and what the party stands to gain if all of us walk together. Candidates can’t do it alone; they need everybody in the party including other aspirants to those various positions. Of course, you know it is not easy. For people that put themselves up for elections, the main aim is to win, but there must also be a looser and only one person will sit on a particular seat at a particular time. You don’t have two captains in a boat. We explained this position to them and many of them understood it. Note that the committee was set up by the party. We have sent the report to the party that set up the committee with recommendations having carefully listened to all the aspirants and candidates. We have advised them and also asked for understanding that the party that works together with its members stands to win elections easily. 
The gale of detections in your party to other political parties especially the YPP is worrisome. What measures has the PDP taken to curb the defections?
Who are those defecting? I’m not aware of any defection.  I’m not aware of any defection except a few that are going to new parties. Of course, if they are defecting, others are also defecting back to where they came from. You have seen former chairman of the party, Chief Ita Toyo, some critical stakeholders like Bishop Akpan and many others coming back to the party. So, I don’t know the specific defection that affects the party in the state. I’m not aware of such material defection that affects the PDP in the state.
How ready is your party for next year’s elections vis-a-vis engaging voters and major stakeholders across the state to embrace the party?
We have done that and it is ongoing. The election architecture by the new electoral act has changed; everything starts from the unit. So, we are going to the unit and many people that are not used to the unit election would fail flat. For us who are used to a unit election, is easy for us because PDP is entrenched in units. It is not a township party only, it is not a city party, it is entrenched in units. If you go to the remotest areas in Akwa Ibom state you will see PDP well grounded. So, we have always been ready. The party has been in the state for over 30 years. These new parties are doing tree planting. What I mean by tree planting is that they are not sure. For instance, you go to an area and they don’t know you, you try hard to explain yourself for them to understand you. Here in PDP, we don’t have anything to explain. For others with a new party trying to sell the party to people that are not known to it, they tend to have more difficult tasks than PDP.
What is your assessment of the present administration after it runs full circle next year taking into cognisance, the governor’s performance and completion agenda?
Assessing the present government is not a difficult thing for me because I have been a critical stakeholder in the state and I have witnessed a transition from one government to another. I can say without contradiction that every government has a vision. They have prospects and manifesto and they have policies to pursue. In all these, I can compare them because I am a field man in Akwa Ibom politics. I will give it to Governor Udom Emmanuel. He has done well and there are so many critical projects that stand out in his favour. When he came in, he promised the industrialisation of the state. He has done substantially in that regard because if you want to compare with the previous governments, none did it. He has done a lot, for instance, the flour mill, the syringe, the metering industries, etc. And above all, the Ibom Air. The flagship project of this administration is Ibom Airlines; of course, nobody can deny him that. We are very happy with what is going on in the state. In education, of course, you can see so many schools have been brought back to life especially those owned by the missionaries. In terms of the health sector, he has also done a lot especially, during the crisis period of Covid-19, the emergency construction and building of the isolation centre at Ituk Mnang General Hospital was a big plus and served the people. We didn’t  have high rate of casualties in the state like other places.
Again, If you go to many of the general hospitals, you will see how it is, like Ikot Ekpene, Eket, Aquita and particularly, the one in Ikono which was abandoned for many years. So, he has done enough. In infrastructure, he has built good and standard road networks that only the blind cannot see. Even the blind man can feel that there are good roads in this administration that connect key areas of the state like the popular Ekom Iman Flyover which is now named Ikono Uyo junction. It connects through Etinan to Ndon Eyo and traverses some local government areas and links to the East-West road. The road carries two bridges and it is very outstanding. Ibom Deep Seaport is being worked on. It is not only the problem of the state, we have to get approvals from the federal government because it is not only the state government that is handling the project. On security, ince the inception of this administration, we have recorded peace. Of course, peace cannot be bought; it can only be achieved through quality leadership. He has maintained and sustained the peace unlike what used to happen some years back. He has tried his best. You can’t get rid of criminality from a state, community and nation, but you can reduce it to a bearest minimum. 
 Your party is presently in turmoil as major actors in the party disagree with Atiku and Ayu.  Do you see your party making any progress with the current situation?
What is happening is just a family affair. Despite all these, it would be sorted out. We still have time. I feel that all parties should be at a round table and iron out all differences if they want PDP to save our people and Nigeria. There is nothing too difficult to solve politically by way of conflict resolution and management. So, my appeal to the leadership of the party is that they should take the interest of the country and Nigerians first because, Nigerians are hoping that PDP will come to rescue the country but, if we don’t take the opportunity that is throwing up, something untoward may happen, but God forbid.
After the primaries, Gov Udom Emmanuel seems to have developed cold feet about the goings on in the party, why is this so?
If I may speak from my position, I think he owes a greater duty to Akwa Ibom state because the mandate is for Akwa Ibom people. He tried to contest for the presidency, he did his best and of course, he could not make it, so he had to come back home and concentrate on his mandate. I don’t see his attitude in the negative because when the chips are down, they won’t judge him for what he did not get at the national, they will judge him for his period as governor for eight years. 
What advice do you have for Wike, Atiku and Ayu who are the main actors in the PDP crisis?
My advice for them is that they should sheath their swords for the party to move forward. The fact is that no single person is greater than the party but the party must also understand that individually, they must work together and there must be  give-and-take. 

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