A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Akwa Ibom senator, John Udoedehe, has rejected the choice of Don Etiebet as the chairman of the APC caucus in the state.
Mr. Etiebet, besides being a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, was a national chairman of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), and commands much influence in the state politics.
The caucus was inaugurated recently in Uyo by the party’s National Vice Chairman, South South, Hillard Etta, at a ceremony which drew large crowd of party leaders in the state, including the Managing Director, Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority and the party’s 2015 governorship candidate in the state, Umana Umana.
The Managing Director, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Nsima Ekere, and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Ita Enang, also attended the event.
“How can Don Etiebet be the chairman of the caucus when he is a factional leader?” Mr. Udoedehe saidin an interview with PREMIUM TIMES. “He (Etiebet) is Umana’s supporter.”
Mr. Udoedehe insisted that he was rigged out in the primary that produced Mr. Umana as the APC candidate for the 2015 governorship election which the party lost to the Peoples Democratic Party’s Udom Emmanuel.
Mr. Udoedehe also said that the APC constitution recognised only the state chairman of the party as the caucus chairman, and not an “outsider”.
“It’s unconstitutional. It’s nonsense,” he said.
The former senator said it was not as if he and his “faction” could not work with Mr. Umana and others in the APC, but said that the party had not made any effort to heal the wounds of those who felt betrayed before and after the 2015 election in the state.
“How do you reconcile with a people that are wounded?
“You come into the party. You were not part of the party, and you’ve taken all the positions, you’ve been appointed (into different positions), and you are the ones enjoying the party now, and we’ve not been part of the meetings before the caucus was constituted.
“It is not done that way.
“You put together a caucus after you have taken all the appointments.
“Okay, we are saying you can go ahead with your caucus, after all, it’s a factional caucus. We have our faction too.
“I have said this so many times, what they are doing is like having someone come into your house, open your fridge and then ask you ‘what are you going to drink?’. It is not done that way.”
Mr. Udoedehe said he had reconciled with Sam Ewang, a former military administrator of Rivers state and a chieftain of the APC, including a former member of the House of Representatives, Emmanuel Ekpenyong, with the aim of taking back the party.
“We are now wise, and the reconciliation is total,” he said. “We went to brief the national chairman of the party and the national secretary.”
Amadu Attai, the Chairman of the APC in the state, told PREMIUM TIMES that the party was bigger than any single person, including Mr. Udoedehe.
Mr. Attai said the APC, Mr. Umana and others want Mr. Udoedehe back to the party, but that the former senator has rebuffed attempts to reconcile with him since after the 2015 election.
“The party constitution says that whoever joins the party could be given a position within 24 hours, but if he (Udoedehe) were to be around he wouldn’t have allowed such appointment to be made,” said Mr. Attai.
“Udoedehe continues to say that he started the party in Akwa Ibom state, and that he owns the party. But the party has grown beyond that,” Mr. Attai said.