Nsima Ekere is the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom State. In this interview, the current Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) says the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will lose 2019 elections since over 90 per cent of personalities that make things happen have moved to his party. Excerpts:
What is the level of reconciliation effort in Akwa Ibom after the primary elections?
Akwa Ibom APC is one as we speak. We are a one united family and we are ready for the general election, fully reconciled. All the four governorship aspirants who contested the primary are all united behind me. All other aspirants that did not make it have individually organised rally in their various constituencies to endorse my candidature. They have brought their campaign organisation to be collapsed into mine and we have one big APC family. We have totally put the primary behind us. We are now looking forward to the general election and we are fully mobilised, ready to take on the general election. You know that after the 2015 general elections, every elected person in the state except one state House of Assembly seat were totally PDP. We have done a lot of work to deepen the APC family and the APC mantra. I can confirm today that we have built the APC into an election winning machine and a machine that is ready to crush any opposition that comes our way during the election. Of the three senators in Akwa Ibom State, two of them are today in APC even though the three were originally PDP. Of the 10 members of the House of Representatives who were elected on the PDP platform, three of them are today in APC. Of the 26 members of the state House of Assembly, five of them are now in APC. This is just for the elective offices. You find out that commissioners in the present PDP government have resigned from the offices, decamped from the other party into the APC. We have lost count of personal aides of the governor who have resigned their appointment and are now in APC. If you look at the political class, you will discover that the entire political class are lined up behind the APC because we have deepened the APC philosophy in the state. The people of the state have bought into the philosophy. They are ready for change being championed by the president and are willing to support the APC during the next general election.
How will you challenge the PDP that is taken like religion in Akwa Ibom State?
If you listen to the politicians in the other party in the state speaking and saying that the PDP is like a religion in Akwa Ibom State, we laugh because they are living in the past. They are people who are living in yesterday. The beauty is that yesterday, we were all in the other party. I was deputy governor of the state in the other party. The immediate past governor, deputy governor, secretary to the state government were all in the other party and now they are in the APC. These are people of note who used to make the other party strong and now in the APC. So, when they say PDP is like a religion in the state, we just laugh at them. Come next general elections, they will wake up from their slumber and they will realise that the state has moved and now fully APC because the state has embraced change.
Is your party truly planning to use force to remove Governor Udom Emmanuel?
For any Nigerian who knows President Muhammadu Buhari will know that he is not the kind of person that will use the apparatus of government against any individual or in favour of a particular political party. As a matter of fact, you are aware that some members of the APC are already complaining that we are in government but not in power, which is reference to the fact that ordinarily, the way the ruling party in the past use to employ the apparatus of government to intimidate opposition parties is not happening now. So, I wonder why anybody would wake up and say that is happening in Akwa Ibom State. That is totally false and no truth in such assertion. It is a matter of crying wolf. In fact, if there is someone who is intolerant to the opposition, anybody desirous of not allowing the citizens to find their political bearing, it is the intolerant government in Akwa Ibom State. This is a government that does not even allow opposition candidates in the APC to erect billboards in the state. When I rolled out my outdoor campaigns all over the state, the following day, the government sent thugs and miscreants to pull down the billboards and that of the president. The next day, the state ministry of environment issued a statement that whoever wants to erect billboards across the state must come and get clearance from the governor. You can see the level of intolerance. Yet, they are the people crying wolf. We have facilities of the state government like the stadium that does not belong to anybody or political party were denied us when we wanted to use them.
Would you react to the insinuation that former Governor Godswill Akpabio did not support your candidacy?
I don’t know where you got your information from. I resigned from office for very personal reasons. Before the last primaries, the former governor you are talking about joined the party at the end of August 2018 and the primary was in early October 2018 and way before the primary, he was my number one supporter, going round the state campaigning for me to emerge candidate of the party. So, there is absolutely no truth to that. I can assure you that Chief Akpabio and his entire political structure is solidly working for the APC and all our candidates in the next general election not only in Akwa Ibom but all over the country.