*Says no feud with Sen Udoedehe
*Udoedehe, Mike Enyong good to run
Chief Godwin Akpan Udoh-Edehe, Elder brother to National Secretary, Caretaker Extraordinarily Convention Planning Committee of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Senator John Udoedehe says the next governor of Akwa Ibom State will come from Uyo Local Government Area, headquarters of the State. He stated this in an exclusive interview he granted CitizensWatch last week. It was a telephone interview wherein Chief Udoedehe answered questions from the Press in the United States of America where he currently resides.
Chief Godwin Udoedehe told the Press that contrary to reports, he has no feud with his junior brother and former Minister of FCT, Senator John Udoedehe. He said the story of APC in Nigeria generally and Akwa Ibom State in particular cannot be complete without express and extensive mentioning of the role played by his junior brother to establish the party and stabilise it. This he said is dues well paid by his brother whom he said is qualified in character, learning, capacity and experience to govern the state in 2023. He told the Press that Sen John Udoedehe was the quickest and easiest link for APC to access power in Akwa Ibom State if given the party Governorship ticket in 2023. Chief Udoedehe said he was in support of his brother’s Gubernatorial aspiration in 2023 contrary to media reports peddled in the state.
He made a case for Uyo Local Government Area in 2023. As the state capital, Uyo, according to Chief Edehe, deserves special attention and consideration with regards to the 2023 Gubernatorial race. He wants Uyo the State Capital which he noted houses every section of the state to be developed and expanded to make life easier for occupants of the capital city in terms of rents and infrastructure. He said it would be strategic for the APC as an opposition political party to consider picking her Gubernatorial candidate from Uyo given that Uyo holds about 25% of the total votes of Akwa Ibom State.
At the moment, two leading Gubernatorial aspirants are from Uyo Local Government Area. They are Senator John Udoedehe of the APC and Rt Hon Mick Enyong of the PDP. While Senator John Udoedehe is former Minister and currently, National Caretaker Committee Secretary of APC, Rt Hon Mike Enyong is member representing Uyo Federal Constituency in the National Assembly and contesting the APC and PDP Gubernatorial tickets respectively for the 2023 race. Asked if this was any strategic attempt by Uyo Local Government to ensure that Governorship ticket of the leading parties does not elude the area, Chief Edehe answered in the affirmative.
Chief Godwin Udoedehe was reported last year as fighting SenatorJohn Udoedehe’s gubernatorial ambition. The report was carried by an Uyo based local tabloid. Asked of the veracity of the story, Chief Edehe described the publication as untrue given that the publisher, an aide to Gov Udom Emmanuel is, according to him, a cheap blackmailer, a liar. He asked members of the public to discountenance the story which was published late last year by Global Pilot Newspaper.
Read full excerpts of the interview wherein the US base business man rated governor Udom Emmanuel very low in terms of performance calling for a change of government in favor of APC in 2023.
CitizensWatch: Late last year, we read a report in Global Pilot Newspaper published by Essien Ndueso, an aide to Gov Udom Emmanuel saying you are at war with your brother, Senator John Udoedehe who is now the national caretaker Secretary of the ruling APC and a frontline 2023 gubernatorial aspirants in Akwa Ibom State under the APC. The report also alleged that you don’t support his governorship aspiration.
I want to clarify if that newspaper report is true. Do you have a cordial relationship with your brother or are you at war with him as reported?
Chief Udoedehe: I don’t have any problem with my brother, Senator John Udoedehe. That publication was false and stupidity coming from a perpetual liar called Essien Ndueso. I support my brother’s ambition to whatever political positions he is willing to aspire.
My relationship with my brother if ever we had any quarrel is a normal family issue common to all. I’m from a different school of thought. I’ve spent all my adult life in the USA while my brother is in Nigeria. He has his family and supporters and I do have my own family. It’s unfortunate that people are mixing politics with family issues and trying to create disharmony where there is none. I think that is what Essien Ndueso, using his paper sought to do. But it has failed. Sen John Udoedehe is my brother, we are such a big family.
CitizensWatch: In 2011, you supported Chief Godswill Akpabio’s second term ambition against your brother. In 2019, the just concluded general election, you supported Obong Nsima Ekere Against his ambition too. In 2023, there is a twist of events: ahead of the general elections, you are in support of your brother’s gubernatorial aspiration contrary to permutations and report by, for instance Essien Ndueso. Will we be correct to say that you acted in line with popular zoning sentiment at the time and not because your brother won’t be a good governor as touted by the report?
Chief Udoedehe: Well, let me correct an impression. In 2011, I supported my brother. I only told him to move on after the Supreme Court judgment. Maybe that’s where people wrongly think I did not support my brother. His close associates can tell you that I contributed money to his Campaigns. I even bought most of the cameras for that election surveillance which produced most of the evidence of electoral fraud at the Tribunal.
In 2019, I went to my brother and informed him that we needed to support Obong Nsima Ekere so that when 2023 comes to Uyo, people can support us. Well, my brother had a different opinion, consulted, campaigned and contested the nomination. But then, I had left him. He actually came over and worked very hard for Obong Nsima Ekere at the end of the day.
You can publish that I have never receive a penny from Akpabio, not one Naira. Obong Nsima Ekere did not give me a dime. I’ve never received a dime from anyone for political support. I actually will measure the time and get to know what people want and play to their expectations. You can quote me.
CitizensWatch: The political thinking in Akwa Ibom State now is that the governorship seat should be rested in Uyo Senatorial District in 2023. Do you think that would be a good chance for your brother assuming he wins the governorship ticket of the party?
Chief Udoedehe: Generally, 2023 is for Uyo Senatorial but we want Uyo LGA in particular to produce the next Governor of Akwa Ibom State for obvious reasons. If you have observed how zoning has been interpreted by both Chief Godswill Akpabio and Gov Udom Emmanuel who are beneficiaries of Akwa Ibom State governorship zoning arrangements, you will support the agitation that an Uyo person be made the governor of Akwa Ibom State in 2023. The two men I mentioned above took every development to their immediate Local Government Areas and left even the state Capital in want of expansion and to the detriment of the entire state. We have been meeting as landlords of Akwa Ibom State and our lobbying is that Uyo is for Uyo in 2023. What do we want to do with it? We want to use state resources to expand infrastructure in the capital city to make life easy for every part of the state that dwells here. We are making headway so far and we know what we want and how to get it.
Talking about APC, I have told you in an earlier discussion that my brother will be the only candidate that will win the election for APC if the delegates vote for him at the nomination. There are factors that would have worked against him, at the homefront, we are addressing those factors. Uyo is united, Uyo Federal Constituency is united, the stakeholders and leaders across party lines are united by this aspiration…Uyo has been cheated in all the appointments, distribution of wealth and other infrastructure. And you know what? A cheat or marginalisation of Uyo especially in terms of infrastructural development is a cheat on the entire State because the state lives here. Since the creation of Akwa Ibom State, Uyo proper are not allowed to be in power. It’s time now for Uyo to step up into the house built on their land. And for any political party that is serious, Uyo is a virgin land to plough in 2023. Uyo LGA has the largest number of people and votes in Akwa Ibom State.
CitizensWatch: Gov Udom Emmanuel recently approved a second appointment in the State Executive Council for Uyo. Uyo now has two Commissionership slot in the State Executive Council. With such gesture by Gov Emmanuel, is Uyo still not taken care of?
Chief Udoedehe: Gov Udom Emmanuel can appoint 20 commissioners from Uyo Local Government if he likes. We understand the antics but truth is that 20 Commissioners from Uyo cannot do for Uyo Local Government and by extension, Uyo Federal Constituency and by further extension, Uyo Senatorial District, what one governor from Uyo Local Government Area can do for Uyo as a Local Government, a Federal Constituency, a Senatorial District and the State generally. Mind you, Uyo Senatorial District is the pivot of the Politics of Akwa Ibom State. Each time we take power, it is to balance and stabilise the state.
CitizensWatch: At the moment, Uyo Local Government Area has two strong governorship aspirants in the two leading parties in Akwa Ibom State- Senator John Udoedehe, National Caretaker Secretary of APC and Rt Hon (Dr) Mike Enyong, member representing Uyo Federal Constituency in the National Assembly. The two are fighting for the governorship tickets of APC and PDP respectively. Is this a strategic move by Uyo to capture power in 2023?
Chief Udoedehe: Yes, it is very strategic and a bold statement by Uyo Local Government Area that we want it and we mean it. Uyo is placing themselves on the tickets of both parties to be assured of producing a Governor. These two are good ambassadors of Uyo. They are qualified and in good standing with their parties.
Both of these Uyo sons are stronger than any other candidates put forward. Uyo will fight to put these two Uyo sons to contest for the Governorship seat. We will choose between Hon. Enyong and my brother, Sen John Udoedehe.
I’ve done business with Hon. Enyong before. He has been a good family friend to us. Only a candidate from Uyo will develop Uyo for all Akwa Ibom citizens to enjoy. You know there seems to be a conspiracy against Uyo by Politicians. We have come to understand how it works and are making efforts to block and take advantage of our position in the politics of Akwa Ibom State as Landlord of the capital city.
CitizensWatch: Let’s look at Governor Udom Emmanuel’s performance in the last six years. How will you rate the governor? Do you think he has done well in terms of building infrastructure in the state, building the economy and adding value to the state?
Chief Udoedehe: Gov Udom Emmanuel’s only good thing for now is the security.
With the money coming into the state, it’s a sad story. I think Udom believes he has done his best but we need real results. Udom is late in job creation and infrastructure in the state. I like him but those around him are not good. In a scale of 10, I will rate him 6.
CitizensWatch: Talking about security, if that is the area you think the governor has done well, a greater part of Ini Local Government Area is at war. Nkari in Ini are at war with Abia State with the people of Nkari being killed in numbers according to report. A creater part of Etim Ekpo Local Government Area has been taken over by bandits who were earlier granted amnesty around the 2019 election. In Ukanafun and Uruk Anam, some Police stations have been displaced by cult groups in arm struggle to establish gang superiority. In Okobo Local Government Area, the people of Amamong and Okopedi are at war displacing people and destroying properties. I was there last week to see things for myself. Precious Life Hotel, a leading hospitality outfit in Okobo was looted and razed down. Sometimes, even Uyo, the state capital goes into security woes. Do you think the governor, with these and other cases of security breaches in the state, has recorded much in protecting lives and properties in Akwa Ibom State?
Chief Udoedehe: These security lapses are not made known to the people of the state. If these are going on in the state, then the Governor has failed in all areas. My rating was actually because I have not heard of the kidnappings as it used to be under Akpabio regime. I thought there’s security. It’s sad that the Governor has done nothing to add value to the life of the common Akwa Ibom citizens.
We need to create a security outfit to tackle the issue of security in the state. I withdrew my rating. The Governor with the security report is a total failure. I rated him 6/10 given my believe he has stemmed insecurity. From the updates, I think he will be about 3/10 points.
CitizensWatch: We have the Nigerian Police Force. We have the DSS, the Army, Air Force and Navy in our water ways. We also have the Civil Defense. Do you think we need additional security outfit or the government should look inward in case she is complicit in the poor security situation in the state?
Chief Udoedehe: I think that Federal agencies do not think about security of the state in the way we feel they should. You can see what is going on in the West. The West know that the security agencies in their states are there to draw salaries from the Federal Government and thus, they have formed Amotekun to guard the region. Maybe we need something like that. Like I said, I did not know of the security lapses you pointed out. The press should be doing their job to bring all these issues to the public. Yes, I know that most of the journalists are on the payroll of the Governor. But somehow, they must try and report the state so that citizens can be informed.
CitizensWatch: A number of analysts have suggested that Akwa Ibom State needs a change of government, that is a new party in power and new leadership direction in the state. They reason that after over twenty years in power, that the PDP has run out of ideas and that a new party in government will allow competition and comparative development analysis. At this stage of our life as a state, do you think we need such a change of government especially considering the poor performance index of the Udom Emmanuel administration?
Chief Udoedehe: Yes, yes and yes. The present government in Akwa Ibom State will keep recycling the same people to do nothing. PDP in Akwa Ibom does not have any more tricks to charm the people. There must be a new idea and new ways of doing things. That was what APC wanted to introduce during 2019 election. Anyone from the present political setup in Akwa Ibom will continue the downward movement of the state. A new face is needed and people with bright ideas needed to take over in 2023. PDP for 20 years has done nothing to show for the money the state received. 2023 should mark a turning point in Akwa Ibom State.
CitizensWatch: Speaking of the PDP, I just remember that we lost the State Chairman, Hon Udo Ekpeyong to Covid-19 virus. We also lost other senior citizens such as Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga and retired Air Marshal Nsikak Eduok. Would you sympathise with His Excellency, the governor and the people of Akwa Ibom State over these painful Covid-19 attacks? What would you advise about the pandemic?
Chief Udoedehe: It’s a sad season for His Excellency, the governor, his party, the PDP and the people of Akwa Ibom State generally. I sympathize with the Governor and the people of Akwa Ibom State for the losses of these great Akwa Ibom citizens. I extend my deepest condolences to the families left behind. I pray Heavenly Father to send His Comforter to comfort all.
Covid-19 is real and the best vaccine is the Mask and constant washing of the hands. Staying indoors and keeping social distance from those that are not your family.
Indoor activities with large numbers should be discouraged. Churches must for now be done outside or with very limited number of people. People must listen to science.
CitizensWatch: At the moment, your party has started membership registration and revalidation ahead of 2023. Would you love to encourage Akwa Ibom people to join your party and support the party to win and bring change to the State in 2023?
Chief Udoedehe: Yes I will like to use this time to tell everyone that the only way to dig ourselves out of this mess we are in is to revalidate our membership of the APC, and be committed to bringing change to Akwa Ibom State come 2023.
CitizensWatch: Thank you very much for your time. I didn’t know you are good in typing. I really appreciate your time and clarity. My regards to your family and most importantly, take care of yourself.
Chief Udoedehe: Thanks my brother. I’m so pleased to chat with you. My regards to your family also.