Impunity threatening PDP in Akwa Ibom –Unwanta

An elder statesman and a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom State, Archbishop Andrew Unwanta, is the immediate past Chairman, Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly Service Commission. In this interview with TONY ANICHEBE, he speaks on recent political developments and other issues


The nation in the process of transiting to another government; as a politician, how is politics in Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria generally?


I think the political state in Akwa Ibom is as it is in other states; full of intrigues. We have been in this game over the years. I have witnessed so many governments and have been part and parcel of enthroning at least almost all of them, including the one in power now – Governor Udom Emmanuel. I had been the International President of Akwa Ibom Consolidation Alliance, which was the flagship organisation that piloted the affairs of our dear governor when he came into office in 2015.

So, I am familiar with the politics of Akwa Ibom but the intrigues in the politics of today are more than what I have seen in the past. Are you therefore impressed with the unfolding political scenario in Akwa Ibom State presently? I am not impressed because, when the intrigue is too much, it creates division and when a party is divided, the chances of that party winning may be very slim like it happened in the Ekiti State governorship election recently.

The intrigues there were what marred the chances of PDP in that state to emerge victorious. The Social Democratic Party (SDP) candidate in that election actually moved out of PDP because he was rigged out of the nomination process. The people were very bitter and voted for him as SDP’s candidate and PDP ended up becoming third in the Ekiti poll, while the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) won.

Unnecessary intrigues can ruin the chances of a party as it happened to PDP in Ekiti. So, as of today, I’m not too happy about the way things are going in Akwa Ibom State. What is happening in PDP is also the fate APC. Lack of internal democracy does not allow stability in the party.

The unfolding scenario seems to have put your group, Akwa Ubok Abasi Organisation, on the fence because of the manipulation. What is the future?

We are in court right now as regards what took place in Akwa Ibom and I think the court will give ruling on that. Hope is not lost. The court judgement can give a new direction altogether. We are waiting to see exactly what will come out of the court.

As we are speaking, I am a PDP member and can assure you that Senator Bassey Akpan is going to be on the ballot by the grace of God. All power comes from God and God gives it to whomsoever He considers.

So, I am very confident and very sure that distinguished Senator Akpan will be on the ballot to win. A lot of people think that what has happened so far will get him demoralised. What is his fate like in the process?

When God is on your side, you hardly can be demoralised and I believe God is on Senator Akpan’s side, which gives him the strength to move on and on and he’s going to be the next governor of Akwa Ibom State, because, when God speaks, no one can change. We are looking up to God and I am sure he will be the governor of this state come 2023.

You mentioned earlier that you’re still a member of the PDP. Are you impressed with the way and manner the party is performing at the national level in addressing issues that are going on in the states? I have not seen the efforts of the national headquarters of the party reflecting on the state’s chapter, but all I know is that after nominations, there is always an effort to reconcile and I learned that in Akwa Ibom, they have put up a committee, which is completely MPM based – that is, made up of people in the Maintain Peace Movement.

I don’t know how effective that committee is going to be but I think from my experience, they are only doing it so that people will see and think they have made an effort to reconcile aggrieved parties. I’m not seeing that committee succeeding as such. I don’t know if there are crises in MPM that they want to resolve or if they want to resolve issues in Akwa Ibom PDP.


I do not understand and don’t know if the national secretariat does show concern about what is going on in Akwa Ibom State chapter of the party. I seriously think they should show concern, taking an example from what happened in Ekiti. That’s what I have observed. Talking about reconciliation, are you not impressed with the membership of the committee?

Do you think it should have been extended to every interest? That’s why I’m saying the committee is MPM based. Look at the membership structure of the committee; you will understand that it is simply MPM based.

Has the reconciliation committee reached out to aggrieved members, including you?

I have not heard from anybody and I don’t think they intend to reconcile. I’m PDP and I remain PDP till tomorrow.

There’s this notion that PDP is a religion in Akwa Ibom State and they can get away with any impunity.

Do you think it’ll work out in 2023? I think the level of political awareness today may not help that situation. Being a religion is when people are united and going in one direction but when there is disunity how then do you say it is a religion?

If PDP was a religion in Ekiti State because of what happened in Ekiti, it was no more a religion. At least, I could have expected if APC led the poll in Ekiti, maybe PDP should have come second. But that was not the case. PDP in Akwa Ibom used to be very strong. It is the people that make the party. There is no party without people.

The flag, the building, and the name are not the party, but it is the people. So it’s the people that are supposed to be inside the party to make it strong, but when there is disharmony and lack of unity; how then do you think, that PDP can be a religion? That is my party and I am praying they start thinking right to unite the party and make the party strong again to remain a religion as it used to be but for now I don’t see it like that.

You championed the ascension of the incumbent administration via your position as the International President of Akwa Ibom State Consolidated Alliance (ACA). Do you have any regret playing that role with what is going on today? I’ve not been looking at the past, I always look forward.

That happened and it wasn’t me alone that was involved, but so many others. I lead more than 2,000 groups in this state and I don’t think they have anything to show that they participated in the ascension of the present administration. I don’t know what to say about the entire situation but for what I helped build in my life, I don’t have regrets. We did a good job but at the end of it, the reward system may not be there. I think this present administration lacks reward system. You are at the forefront, championing the governorship aspiration of Senator Akpan.

Do you think he’s a politician who will remember those who took the bullet for him?

We’ve watched him very closely and he has been doing well since the period that he was Commissioner for Finance in Akwa Ibom and when he became a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He did so well and is currently doing so; empowering and educating people, helping people in many ways, based on that I don’t see him changing in any form when he becomes the governor. I believe the spirit to give is always in people as well as the spirit to help.

If you don’t know how to give, you won’t give but if you know how to give, you will. If you know how to help others you will continue to help and get their blessings.

So, I think Senator Akpan is coming to salvage the state and help those, who have been deprived for years; those that have been in the system with evidence of commitment and loyalty without any reward. I think it is time that all should key in to see what God will do. I am too sure that he is coming to salvage this state and is coming to help those that have been neglected, those that have been used and dumped in this state. I think he’s out for them and I’m too sure he will do it. I don’t see him changing.

Seven years ago when you championed the birthing of this administration, as a grassroots politician that you have been for years, did you know the incumbent governor very well? I didn’t know the incumbent governor very well.

We all relied on Godswill Akpabio who was a good man as far as this State is concerned. Akpabio was able to create a lot of wealth for the teeming youths of this State and those youths are the ones that the sitting governor is using today. I think with what Akpabio did on ground in terms of infrastructure, empowering people, creating wealth and other things, we relied on him and believed in him and accepted who he brought. That’s the situation we were in at that time. I’m happy that Akpabio first experienced something funny and decided to distance himself. He first took the bullet before all of us also faced similar situation.

We were always branded as Akpabio’s people and because of that, we were side-lined from day one. I did not know exactly how it would end but I followed and followed till my board was dissolved in 2020. We are praying that God will make this government end well.

Are you impressed with the current administration in terms of projects, infrastructure and human empowerment? Maybe within the available resources, he’s trying.

At least I can see what he and I discussed when he was about to come in; the dual carriage road from Ikot Oku Ikono Junction to East-West Road is on course and a greater part of it has been completed including the bridge at Ekpene Ukpa. I’m so happy about that. From his village to my village, another road has been done and I thank him for that. The area of human empowerment is what I may say he is not doing very well.

Those that supported him are suffering except the very few that are very close to him. People find it difficult to have two or three meals in a day. To be frank, in the area of human empowerment I wouldn’t say he’s doing well but for infrastructure, he’s strong.

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