From Romanus Ugwu, Uyo
Former Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, on Saturday, officially declared to contest the 2023 Akwa Ibom State governorship election.
Speaking before the thousands of supporters and heavyweight politicians that thronged the Ibom Hall, in Uyo, the State capital, venue of the event, he promised an industrial revolution of the state and poverty alleviation for the indigenes.
Supporters had stormed the venue in the early hours of the day to drum support for the former APC chief scribe, donning all manners of attractive branded outfits and brandishing banners and posters.
On arrival at the venue at 2:07 pm in the company of his wife and other members of the family, friends and political associates in a convoy of over 10 luxury vehicles, he had received a rousing welcome by the large crowd of supporters that also followed him round the venue to acknowledge greetings from both young and old.
In attendance include the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority, (OGFZA), Umana Okon Umana, Victor Giadom representing Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, former Minister of Petroleum, Chief Donald Dick Etiebet, Dan Abia, members of the national leadership of the party, State executive members, artistes, religious leaders, traditional rulers, among others.
Delivering his speech, Akpanudoedehe, said: “I want to accept your call to run. I want to thank the President who allowed me to serve as national secretary of the party and the stakeholders who didn’t reject my nomination. I want to thank most especially, Rotimi Amaechi who sponsored us to the national secretariat of the party.
‘My focus will be how to deliver my people from poverty. We have been in this battle for a long time and we have suffered, we have been battered with lies but we survived. The people of Akwa Ibom have supported me and my resolve is to deliver you from poverty. God has given me a special gift which is to deliver from poverty.
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‘We will give N1 million grant each to 1000 persons in each local government. We will build a flyover in Ikot Ekpele, we will pay the pensioners and make the state an industrial hub. We will focus on the urban renewal system in each local government.
‘We are bringing industry in the three Senatorial Districts. We will give you primary health centres and productive schools. We will look into the seaports. We will lift you out of poverty,’ he promised.
Earlier in their goodwill messages, several chieftains of the party in attendance showered encomiums on the former chief scribe of the APC, describing him as a man of capacity.
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In his speech, APC National Vice Chairman (South-South), Victor Giadom, who represented presidential aspirant, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, noted that the crowd should be an attestation that the APC will wrest the Akwa Ibom Government House from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after the 2023 general elections.
‘As Caretaker Committee secretary, I don’t need to emphasize that Akpanudoedehe was very visible. His visibility almost returned him to the national secretariat, but I told him to go back home and reshape the party in the State. We are not going to miss him because we are all going to benefit from him coming back to Akwa Ibom. I can say clearly that the crowd here today is a clear manifestation that the APC here is viable and strong,’ he stated.
‘Nobody can say we aren’t strong in Akwa Ibom. Let us keep working together, we are close to the election and this isn’t time for us to fight ourselves but work together for the actualisation of APC success in Akwa Ibom. From the leaders I have seen here, the APC will bring victory to us.
‘Let us come together, allow for give and take and face our common enemy, which is the PDP. Let us work together so that we can bring victory. I will like to come back here with the APC sitting in theGovernment House. I urge you to go back to your respective unit to bring victory to APC. We can deliver APC to Akwa Ibom.
‘Keep working for the APC. This is not the time to fight for each other but time to close ranks. You cannot have this crowd and go home to fight. The crowd I saw together will bring victory to the party. We must unite to face our common enemy and by extension enemy of the Akwa Ibom people with their underperformance. I am returning to Abuja with the promise that the people of Akwa Ibom will deliver the state to the APC,’ he said.
Similarly, Umanah Umanah, in his goodwill messages, said: ‘I believe that Akpanudoedehe made us proud because he served meritoriously. That is the first time we have had our son at such a high level. We are proud of you. Our leader, Chief Etiebet has spoken well I can only say on the status quo we stand. We will continue to recognize Augustine Ekanem as chairman of our party because that’s the decision of the court.
‘I want to appeal to us to remain focused and avoid distraction so that we can take Government House in 2023. Some of these people came when the food was ready, they don’t know what we had suffered. But we are determined to reposition our party. These people won’t be worried if we don’t have a candidate in 2023. We won’t allow them to hijack the structure, we will stand on the truth. We will abide by the position of law and respect the rule of law.
‘I congratulate my brother, Akpanudoedehe, he is a man of capacity, and the catapilla [sic] of Akwa Ibom politics. They are afraid because they know you have the capacity,’ he said.
The Chairman of Rescue Mission (Akpanudoedehe’s campaign slogan, Archbishop Samuel Akpan, said: ‘Today, we have come to honour our own, who completed his assignment in Abuja in grand style. He is about to begin another assignment. We came here to receive and reassign him; to come and serve as the next governor of Akwa Ibom State.
‘We are calling you to come and rescue Akwa Ibom from lawlessness. So, on behalf of the Akwa Ibom people, I hereby present Akpanudoedehe who never betrayed his former boss, Governor Mai Mala Buni to come and take the challenge and contest the governorship of Akwa Ibom State,’ he appealed.