The choice of Umo Eno, Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Lands, as Governor Udom Emmanuel’s preferred candidate for the 2023 gubernatorial election has divided the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the state.
At a stakeholders’ meeting on Sunday, January 30, 2022, former Governor Victor Attah announced Eno as Governor Emmanuel’s preferred choice of successor.
Many stakeholders stormed out of the meeting, which was held in Uyo, the state capital, on Sunday.
Emmanuel had severally said he had no anointed candidate for 2023, despite speculations that he had an interest in Eno.
Commenting on the development, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Ekerete Udo, quoted Emmanuel as saying God picked Eno as the next governor.
“The governor announced that he (Eno) was the one God has revealed to him as the next governor of the state and he was unveiled to all the stakeholders from the three senatorial districts of the state by the former governor, Obong Victor Attah, who then commended the choice.”
“It was an array of the political elders made up of senators and House of Representatives members,” Udo said.
It was gathered that the Chairman, House Representatives Committee on Judiciary, Mr Onofiok Luke, was one of those who stormed out of the meeting.
Speaking on the development, Luke said he was not aware of the agenda of the meeting but attended to honour the governor’s invitation.
“I’m not against their endorsement, and I’m not against the elders of the state. But I’m saying the endorsement could have happened after proper consultation.”
“I went to Obong Attah and told him why didn’t you talk to all of us who are in this race? Why didn’t you talk to Sen Bassey Albert? Why didn’t you talk to Akan Udofia? Why didn’t you talk to Akan Okon? Why didn’t you talk to James Iniama? It was Obong Attah that made the presentation, not the governor.
“We would have loved their endorsement but that would have been after due consultation. But whoever they would endorse should be the choice of the majority of people in the state
“So, for me as Onofiok Akpan Luke, I am in the governorship race. I am going to stand election on the platform of my party, the PDP. I am not part of that endorsement at all.
“But I respect their views; I respect the opinion and choice of the governor. I respect Obong Victor Attah and the opinion of the elders of the state. It is their choice. I only respect their opinion, but I am not in support of what they are doing.
“I was ambushed. I didn’t know the agenda of the meeting but I had to respect the governor and attend the meeting. For the good times, I had raised my hand, seeking to be allowed to speak but I was ignored,” Luke stated.
The absence of the Commissioner for Economic Development and Ibom Deep Seaport, Mr Akan Okon, who is also a governorship aspirant, and the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Ini Emembong, at the meeting signalled that the development has triggered a fresh crisis.