Obong Godwin Ekpo, a former Local Government Chairman in Ibiono Ibom and currently a member of Commission in a recent interview with journalists spoke on his support for Udom, the recent gale of defections in the PDP, his political aspirations and other sundry issues. Excerpts:
Are you satisfied with Gov. Udom’s performance?
Obviously yes! I am extremely satisfied with his performance because like I did say yesterday, when I paid a courtesy call on the honourable Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs. I emphasized that Akwa Ibom people should join with me and thank former Governor Godswill Akpabio who had the vision and call on the people to stand by him and deliver Udom Emmanuel as the right man. So, from my assessment, Gov Udom Emmanuel has done well in terms of fiscal responsibility and structural renaissance. His is achieving all these not minding the lean resources accrued to the State. He is the best man for the job.
Are the people in tune with what you are doing?
I must thank my people for not failing me. From 1999 we have been core PDP Local Government and I can assure you that I was well received by my people. They were so excited seeing me coming to thank them and also empowering them in my own little way and assuring them the His Excellency the Governor will do well better than what he has done now as the economy of the State improves. My people are satisfied that is why you don here decamping here and there in Ibiono Ibom. Ibiono Ibom has been intact for His Excellency and I can assure you that during election in 2019, results will speak better than words.
What is your take on incessant defection from PDP?
A man who is up to forty is able to take his decision and may be the defectors want to go and have something good at where they are defecting to and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guarantee them the right to move from one party to the other. They have the right to do that. It is individual differences; they have the right to go to wherever they want to go to. But it is incumbent on those that want to support His Excellency to stamp their feet. It is not all that glitters that are gold because even where they are decamping to, it is the same faces that are they. So, why don’t we sit down and agree on something and change the modus operandi of how things are done or used to be done that leads to your dissatisfaction in the party and then watch if corrections will be made and we move ahead.
If you are not treated well in the PDP, will you decamp?
I don’t know the extent of maltreatment that will make me to decamp from the PDP because I recalled vividly that in 2015, I would have been the House member representing the good people of Ibiono Ibom State Constituency. I was very optimistic that I will win the election. On a Saturday, a day to the election, I was invited to the Government House by former Governor Godswill Akpabio and asked me to step down for Barr Ime Okon. So, I had paid the sacrifice by stepping down on the day of election not because I was happy to step down but I had to respect the constituted authority. So, if I did not decamp from PDP in 2015 after spending my hard earned money touring the whole nooks and crannies of Ibiono Ibom and getting their assurances that I will win my election, what else will you do now that will make me leave the PDP. I will leave PDP when PDP in Nigeria is dead. If it is not dead, then I will remain in the party. I am not a political prostitute and I will never be one.
What are the chances that PDP will win in 2019 considering the current trend of decamping?
My assurance to our people is the leader of Akwa Ibom State, His Excellency, Governor Udom Emmanuel has not spoken. Whenever he speaks and wherever he goes is where all of us will go. Whether it is PDP or any other party, wherever he goes we will go with hm.
Do you have aspiration in 2019?
Well, as a human being and as a political animal, I must have aspiration. If my people call on me anytime any day to go and represent them at any level, I think I will oblige to it.
If you are asked to step down the second time what will you do?
I will not be the one they will ask to step down rather it will be some other person. I don’t think that is possible. That is not possible and of course, Nigeria has grown above that level. That was the level of 2015 and it will never repeat itself again.
In the midst of economic recession, what is your advice to the people?
It is true that things are extremely difficult. My advice to the people is that they should bear with His Excellency the governor. From my own observation, economy is fast improving. I strongly believe that in no distant time, the Governor will do better than what he has done for the people of the State. The people should exercise patience because it is not his fault. Economic recession is not only in Uyo. It is everywhere. Therefore, the blame should not be on the Governor. Even with the lean resources, His Excellency is trying to put up infrastructure like roads, schools, etc.
Your regrets as the former Chairman of Ibiono Ibom Local government Area
My only regret is that I was not able to complete the 2000 capacity Ibiono Ibom Hall I intended to complete. That is my only regret because I knew that our people don’t have a hall where they can have meeting. My intention was to give them a befitting hall. By the time my tenure ended because of lack of funds, I could not complete the hall. That has always been my regret. I wish as a private individual, if God blesses me to the extent that I can go and complete the project, I think I will do it. I give God the glory for a successful tenure. It is left for Ibiono Ibom people to compare when Godwin Ekpo was the Chairman with others that came after my administration.
How are you coping with your new office?
Fantastic office! I thank Gov. Udom Emmanuel for the appointment. For raising me from local government to State level. I want to assure him that I will never let him down. The confident he had in me by giving me that appointment will never be betrayed and I will do as much as I can to use that office in assisting the people of the State.