By Emeka Samuel
Amid the growing political tension in Akwa Ibom arising from the lingering battle between the ruling PDP in the state and the main opposition ,APC over the control the state, Governor Udom Emmanuel and the PDP have intensified moves to strengthen their support base and galvanize the people by strengthening the peace-building mechanism in the party.
The state has been in the “eye of political storm” in recent weeks following the crisis in the state House of Assembly which led to a face off between the state government and the police authority and increased crisis between the PDP and APC in the state.
Apparently to aid this galvanization process and also help in dousing the palpable apprehension in the state, the PDP Integration and Harmonisation Committee, in a statement on Wednesday, announced the commencement of the second phase of interactions with aggrieved stakeholders and other members of the party who have concerns over diverse issues in the party, which include what they refer to as “poor reward mechanism”.
According to the statement, signed by the Committee secretary, Barrister Goddy Umoh, who is also the legal adviser to the party in the state, the second phase would “entertain complaints from individuals who have sent private petitions to the Committee through its dedicated phone numbers, email and website.”
The Committee, headed by a former deputy governor Engr Patrick Ekpotu, was inaugurated by Governor Udom Emmanuel, in October and charged with the responsibility of bringing together every aggrieved parties in the recently concluded primary election exercise of the PDP in the state, with the aim of addressing their grouses, in order to present a united front in the coming 2019 governorship election.
Barrister Umoh revealed that the “Integration and Harmonisation Committee started interactions with stakeholders of the first sets of local government areas on October 26. In that first phase the Committee hosted and received complaints from people from eight local government areas, which included, Ikono, Uyo, Ikot Ekpene, Itu, Nsot Ibom, Nsit Atai, Mkpat Enin and Urue Offong/ Oruko.”
Different interests within the party in the local government areas that have met with the committee, were said to have unburdened their grievances to the committee. Issues ranging from people who felt shortchanged by the system at the party primaries after working hard for the party or communities/wards that raised concerns over seeming neglect by successive governments in the state in the areas of either projects or political appointments were presented to the committee.
“The committee, working closely with the governor on the Integration and Harmonisation process has assured that a “mechanism is in place with the full backing of the governor to address these concerns in order to assuage the apprehension of the people, because the spirit of setting up the committee is not only to help our party put its house in order, in this peculiar challenging period in the state, but essentially to heal wounds and encourage inclusiveness by integrating every interest for peace, progress and unity of our dear state.
“So far the response by the people have been very impressive. As should be expected in this kind of setting, We have been having explosive but very frank sessions with participants from different local government areas, as people are encouraged by the committee to air their views with sincere openness, aimed at a dispassionate resolution. The beautiful aspect of our often heated sessions is that some times people came with palpable apprehension, but often would live with smiles and genuine convivial embrace and handshake.”.Umoh said.
He disclosed that after attending to individual complainants, the Committee, would then resume its interactions with the remaining local government as according the statement, “the objective is to achieve equity, fairness and justice in the party, which will ultimately lead to peace and harmony in the PDP family, and essentially more electoral success by the party in the state”.