The Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. Nsima Ekere, has been endorsed by the people of the five local government areas making up the former Abak Division to contest the 2019 gubernatorial election in Akwa Ibom State.
The endorsement came during a mega rally organized to honour Ekere by the Abak 5 Redemption Movement at Government Technical College, Abak, on Friday, which attracted an unprecedented crowd.
In a motion moved by the Member representing Ukanafun/Oruk Anam Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Obongunwana Emmanuel Ukoete, seconded by the former Member representing Abak/Etim Ekpo/Ika Federal Constituency, Obongemem Ekperikpe Ekpo, and unanimously carried, the people resolved to call on Ekere to throw his hat into the ring for the governorship contest.
In his response, the NDDC boss expressed appreciation to the Abak 5 people for what he called their show of love and confidence and promised to react to their call at the appropriate time.
“This call by Abak 5, I have taken note of and I will consider it very seriously at the appropriate time,” he said. “Today, I am still the Managing Director of NDDC. I have work to do for the Niger Delta and Akwa Ibom State. The President graciously gave us this job. We are committed to delivering on it. When the time for election and politics comes, I will come back and remind you of this resolution you passed today and I will ask you whether this resolution still stands.”
Ekere, in turn, seized the opportunity to move a motion for the endorsement of President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term, stressing that the President had demonstrated uncommon love for Akwa Ibom State, particularly in terms of appointments.
He commended Buhari for the enormous support to the NDDC, especially his approval for the harmonization of outstanding remittances from the Federal Ministry of Finance and release of outstanding funds due the commission for the development of the Niger Delta region.
Ekere decried the disruption of NDDC projects by agents of the State Government, reasoning that it was counter-productive because “the money NDDC is using to develop Akwa Ibom State is our own share of money for the development of the Niger Delta.”
The NDDC boss promised that the commission will continue to seek ways of constructive engagement with all governments in the region “so that we can bring development to all nooks and crannies of the Niger Delta.”
He urged the people of Akwa Ibom State to vote for the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) to end “bad governance” in the state.
The Akwa Ibom State APC Caucus Chairman, Atuekong Don Etiebet, who chaired the occasion, said the people of Abak 5 had resolved to purchase the APC governorship nomination form for Ekere because he had done well for them.
“He is not yet Governor but he has already intervened in the problems of Abak 5,” he said.
The Managing Director of Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority, Mr. Umana Umana, announced that long before the Abak 5 people, the people of Akwa Ibom North-East Senatorial District had resolved to purchase the APC governorship nomination form for Ekere because of his outstanding performance at the NDDC.
“We have come here to support and show solidarity with the people of Abak 5 who have taken the right decision to honour Obong Nsima Ekere for his outstanding performance as the Managing Director of NDDC,”‘ he said. “We have come here to say that this honour is well-deserved. You cannot hide performance…So this is somebody who performs. That is why we have come here.”
He stated further: “And I know his ideas about Akwa Ibom State. His programmes for Akwa Ibom State will not be about promises and groundbreaking. There is nothing as traumatic as somebody will come and break your grounds and after two years the site will be overgrown with weeds. We are here to align with the people of Abak 5 that things cannot continue like this in Abak 5. And we have a capable hand who will make our party proud. Has he not made our party proud? We thank the President who found him worthy. Our brother, you have done well and the reward for hard work is more hard work. We are very happy with you.”
Umana dismissed newspaper reports of rift between him and Ekere, saying, “Those who continue to write in papers that Nsima and Umana are fighting, tell them that there is no fight. We are one. Our party is one and united.”
A former Minister of Women Affairs, Obong Rita Akpan, said she was overwhelmed by the sheer size of the crowd: “People talk about sea of heads but this is an ocean of heads. I have never seen this kind of crowd before. Abak 5, you are a trail blazer.”
She canvassed for a female Deputy Governor or 50 per cent cabinet positions for women in the incoming APC government.
A former Special Assistant to Governor Udom Emmanuel on Electoral Matters, Barr. Chris Okorie, who chaired the event planning committee, explained that the reception was organized to appreciate Ekere for “standing by us to rebuild the bridge that has brought change to Abak 5 and indeed the entire state.”
He enumerated NDDC projects facilitated by Ekere in the five local government areas to include construction of Hospital Road, Abak, and adjourning Obot Street, construction of Spring Road, Abak, and Mercantile Bank Road in Ekparakwa, Oruk Anam and renovation of school buildings in 20 schools, expressing delight that all those projects were executed by indigenous contractors.
“He epitomizes the saying that a good friend is better than a bad brother, son or son-in-law,” Okorie said.
A former Deputy Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mr. Uwem Udoma, described Ekere as the real deal for Abak 5, assuring him of the support of the people of the area.
He attributed the clement weather that characterised the day to divine intervention.
Others who delivered goodwill messages at the event were a former State Chairman of Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Arc. Otu Ita-Toyo, a former PDP State Women Leader, Lady Victoria Mel-Udoh, a former Deputy Majority Whip of the State House of Assembly, Obonganwan Mabel Udongwo, a former Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Dr. Emem Wills, a representative of the APC in Diaspora, Dr. Abasiubong Udofia, and a computer mogul, Mr. Inibehe Otoho.
At the occasion, Ekere was presented with a symbolic sword of authority and a native cow by the people of Abak 5.