The leader of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Nsit Atai, Akwa Ibom State, Prince Sunny Elijah, on Monday, defied last-minute pressure from Governor Udom Emmanuel and defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) at a grand rally attended by Senator Godswill Akpabio, former Senate Minority Leader and other APC chieftains in the state.
Elijah, a strong grassroots politician rejoined PDP in August, last year, at the prompting of Governor Emmanuel after his disagreement with some Nsit Atai APC leaders over the local government chairmanship nomination but he returned to APC on Monday in spite of pleas from the governor.
On getting wind of Elijah’s impending defection last week, Governor Emmanuel is reported to have sent five of his commissioners who lured Prince Elijah to the house of a multimillionaire cement dealer and staunch supporter of the Governor at Osongama Estate in Uyo where they begged him to remain in PDP with an immediate cash offer of N5 million and other promises.
Elijah, who rejected the offers, defected to the APC with his wife and immediate past House of Assembly Member for Nsit Atai, Mrs Sarah Elijah, another former House of Assembly Member, Obong Asuquo Darby Udo, a former local government chairman, Prince Sunny Ossom, a serving supervisor, 40 PDP ward executive members, former PDP chapter chairmen, former councillors and thousands of other supporters.
Addressing the rally held by the APC state leadership to receive him and his supporters at Odot, the council headquarters, Elijah dismissed the PDP as a party full of contractors and lightweight politicians.
He criticised the PDP leadership for breaking the longstanding zoning arrangement by giving the incumbent House of Assembly member a second term ticket.
He hailed the APC for picking its House of Assembly candidate, Princess Blessing Osom from the Afaha group of villages and called on Nsit Atai people to support all candidates of the party in the 2019 elections because “we have to punish PDP for defying zoning.”
Mrs Elijah, Obong Udo and Prince Ossom called PDP a deceitful party and said they were joining APC to bury PDP in Nsit Atai.
Hon Ini Okopido, the State Chairman of APC, who received the defectors, said they were entitled to all rights and privileges with old members
Senator Godswill Akpabio, the immediate past governor, who led the crowd in solidarity songs for President Muhammadu Buhari, Obong Nsima Ekere, the APC Governorship Candidate and other APC candidates, said with the defection of Prince Elijah, “all the Generals of Nsit Atai politics are now in APC”.
He commended Nsit Atai APC members for being peaceful and for not retaliating the destruction of campaign billboards of Obong Nsima Ekere, the APC Governorship Candidate located within their area on the Airport Road, by suspected PDP agents.
He reeled out the things President Muhammadu Buhari had done for Akwa Ibom and criticised the State Government for refusing to embrace the Anchor Borrower’s agricultural scheme of the Federal Government.
Dr Amadu Attai, the APC Deputy Governorship Candidate who represented Obong Nsima Ekere, said the prophecy of Senator Akpabio that PDP will collapse in Akwa Ibom by December 2018 was being fulfilled with the continuing defection from the PDP all over the state.
He hailed Elijah as a strong politician with the capacity to bury PDP in Nsit Atai.
Group Captain Sam Ewang (rtd), a former Military Administrator of Rivers State, said he was overwhelmed by the number of defectors as he had counted up to 10,000 persons, adding that with their coming, Nsit Atai is completely APC.