Akpan Etukudoh Asare
The national vice chairman of the All Peoples Congress for South-South, Ntufam Hilliard Eta has denied that he was unduly influencing the selection process of the emergence of a flag bearer for the party for the Governor election next year.
He denied that he was frustrating the process by allowing some persons to hijack the primary election materials, which will now take place October 1, 2018 in all the 196 wards in the state.
Two governorship aspirants of the party, Prof Eyo Etim Nyong and former minister of culture, tourism and orientation, Edem Duke had alleged that Eta was attempting to frustrate the process because he was working to impose a particular candidate as the candidate of the party.
They alleged that materials meant for the conduct of the election had been hijacked by Eta.
The two aspirants suspected that Eta was favouring Senator John Owan-Enoh , a co-contender.
They threatened protest votes against any favored aspirant, and claimed that information available to them showed that the committee members were not interested in conducting a free and fair election.
Explaining, Eta said when the committee members arrived the state, they had to pay courtesy calls on some security outfits including the Police, the Department of State Security and other security outfits.
“I have heard the allegation that I have connived to hijack election materials. Let me assure all our members that nothing is farther from the truth. We have just returned from visits to security services and INEC and the materials are in the custody of the Ali Magaji committee. The materials will be distributed and by tomorrow, election will commence in all the 196 wards in the state.”
Etta said it was wrong for anybody to say that he convened a state executive meeting in a private residence on Saturday, saying the constitution of the party does not give him the authority to convene state executive committee meeting “excerpt in very serious circumstances.”
“As an indigene of the state and a national officer in charge of the South South zone, I cannot stay aloof in the selection of a governorship candidate.
“I am not empowered to convene a state executive committee meeting and by the constitution of the party, you cannot hold that meeting in a private house. But I must say that as a leader, I am interested in who becomes my governorship candidate.
“It is not because I am a leader that I don’t have preferences. I am a conspirator and I have the right to convene a private meeting based my interest.
“I was a victim of injustice during the early days of my political career. I have the right to support any governorship aspirant of my choice.”