From all over the state, hundreds of clerics, evangelists and other Christian ministers converged on the town for an enlarged meeting of Christian leaders
On Wednesday, August 15, Uyo, the serene capital of Akwa Ibom State, was in an evidently boisterous mood.
From all over the state, hundreds of clerics, evangelists and other Christian ministers converged on the town for an enlarged meeting of Christian leaders in the state.
Convened by the Prelate Emeritus of the Methodist Church of Nigeria and former president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Dr. Sunday Mbang, the forum had in attendance those tagged as spiritual fathers of faith, CAN leaders as well as other Christian ministers in Akwa Ibom State. At the end of the meeting, the clerics prayed for peace in the country, especially in the build- up to and during next year’s general election. While canvassing peaceful means of tackling ethno-religious issues, those in attendance also resolved to pitch their tent with the state governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, who will be seeking a second term in office.
It was gathered that over 2000 clerics attended the meeting at the Akwa Ibom Christian Assembly. At the end of the event, the Christian leaders contended that it was expedient that Akwa Ibom people do away with satanic agents that might cause evil in the state.
According to Mbang, the Christian leaders resolved to stick to the resolution earlier made by them on March 15, to give unalloyed support to the second term bid of the governor.
In an eight-point communiqué issued at the end of last week’s meeting, which was signed by Mbang and Dr. Ndueso Ekwerre, CAN chairman in the state, the forum also said it was only fair that Emmanuel be allowed to spend eight years in office since his two predecessors, who were from Uyo and Ikot Ekpene senatorial districts, respectively, had spent eight years each. They said the church must be fully involved in the political process in the state, even as they urged every Christian in Akwa Ibom to support the governor, who they described as a practising Christian.
The leaders said no Christian in the state should collect any financial inducement from any politician to thwart the collective resolve, even as they declared that all heads of churches in the state had agreed to mobilise their members to pray, collect their permanent voters’ cards and vote for the governor during next year’s governorship election.
The clerics praised the governor for bringing peace, accountability and transparency to the state. They also lauded him for ensuring even distribution of developmental projects across the state.
Mbang said: “Udom is our candidate and we will vote him. Don’t sell your destiny for a morsel of bread. The church has made a statement and the church stands by the earlier endorsement of Deacon Udom Emmanuel. The line has been drawn between darkness and light.”
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Ekwerre on his part averred that: “CAN believes that what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Akwa Ibom State is 99.9 per cent a Christian state. This means it would be safe to say the state is a church. So, the church must act justly. We are not playing politics, but there must be justice. God is a God of justice. The church stands on the side of justice, equity and fair play.”
Another prominent minister and founder of Destiny Missions International, Archbishop Cletus Bassey, said it was important that Christians in the state re-elect the governor. He insisted that clerics in the state would not be cowed by threats, intimidation, blackmail and character assassination, and Christian leaders in Akwa Ibom would continue to mobilise their followers and ensure that Emmanuel is re-elected for a second term.
As the clerics and Christian leaders were reiterating their support for the governor, another group was moving round the streets of Uyo adducing reasons why the governor must be supported for another term.
Attired in colourful uniform outfits, thousands of women from the three senatorial zones and the 329 political wards in the state marched round popular streets in the capital, affirming their support for
the second term bid of the governor. It was believed that up to 10,000 women from different parts of the state participated in the rally.
For the women, it was a carnival-like spectacle. They were on parade floats with assorted banners, propelled by vehicles.
They moved round the major streets of Uyo, singing and dancing. They insisted that there was no vacancy for any other party besides the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at Government House, Uyo. They said no politician would remove the governor’s love from the minds of women in the state. The women rounded off the parade at the Banquet Hall of Government House, where they were received by the governor.
Former governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso, as well as a former governor of Edo State, Lucky Igbinedion, were among the dignitaries that joined Emmanuel to receive the women.
Leader of the women, the state’s Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Welfare, Mrs. Glory Edet, said the women decided to hold the rally to assure the governor that they would remain with him, in spite of recent political developments in the state.
Said she: “We have come to reassure you that, in 2019, you are the only candidate for governorship election in this state. As you are aware, we have already decided that we will vote for you to be our governor for another four years. And women are the majority in this state.
“Between 1999 and 2007, we voted for Obong Victor Attah from Uyo Senatorial District. From 2007 to 2015, we voted for Chief Godswill Akpabio from Ikot Ekpene District. Now, it is the turn of Eket, and justice and equity demand that you spend eight years.”
A number of other women also spoke at the rally. Mrs. Ekaette Ebong Okon, a former member of the House of Assembly who spoke on behalf of women from Uyo, reeled out some of the accomplishments of the governor in her senatorial district. She said the governor had developed infrastructure in the area, including roads, blocks of classrooms, facilities in hospitals and many more.
“Some of these are the dualisation of the 25-kilometre Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Road, 20-kilometre Uyo-Etinan Road, dualisation of the 14.5-kilometre Uyo/Airport Junction- Okopedi Okobo Road, and so on,” she said.
Former chairman of Ika Local Government Area in the state, Mrs. Inibehe Silas, spoke on behalf of women in Ikot Ekpene. She said the people of the area were happy with the governor for all he had done in the district, including construction of roads, provision of electricity in rural communities, construction of classroom blocks in schools and provision of assorted buildings and other projects in some hospitals in the area.
For the Eket Senatorial District, the spokesperson was the wife of the former paramount ruler of Onna, Akwa Obonganwan Patience Ukpa. She also praised Emmanuel for his strides in the area. These, she said, were the dualisation of many roads, including the 19.5-kilometre Eket-Ibeno Road, the 23-kilometre Eket-Etinan Road, with three bridges, renovation of classroom blocks and hospitals, and others.
In his response, the governor and his wife, Martha, expressed gratitude to the women for the massive display of love and solidarity. While soliciting the people’s continued support, he said he was fully committed to the development and industrialisation of the state.