In a classic demonstration of his trademark politics of no bitterness, the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom State, Obong Nsima Ekere, yesterday, called for a peaceful election and publicly embraced his opponent, Governor Udom Emmanuel, during the closing ceremony of the New Year prayer and fasting assembly of the Catholic Diocese of Uyo.
Ekere drew thunderous cheers and applause from thousands of worshippers and others present when he dramatically walked to where the governor was seated and embraced him moments after being honoured by the Catholic Bishop of Uyo, Dr. John Ayah, in appreciation of his (Ekere’s) contributions to the development of the church.
The APC standard bearer’s gesture was commended by the clearly elated Bishop.
The immediate past Governor of the state, Senator Godswill Akpabio, who has been at loggerheads with his successor, did a similar gesture by going to greet Emmanuel after speaking at the ceremony.
In his remarks, Ekere, flanked by Emmanuel, was emphatic on the need for peace during the forthcoming elections.
“All I am saying is that you (the Catholic Church) must continue to pray for Akwa Ibom State because at the end of the day, all that we have is Akwa Ibom State. It’s not about APC. It’s not about PDP. It’s about Akwa Ibom State. And you know that God knows the end from the beginning. So, even as we stand here, God knows who the next governor will be. And so, all we have to do as Christians is to continue to pray. So, please, pray for us, sir (Bishop), pray for the political process. We need peace and we need security. We do not need to spill the blood of any Akwa Ibom child in the course of these elections.”
Ekere alerted of plans by some persons in Akwa Ibom State to import thugs to cause mayhem in the state and prayed that “the Almighty God will frustrate the devices of the crafty.”
Emmanuel, who is the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the March 2, 2019 gubernatorial election, toed Ekere’s line when he spoke shortly after.
Said he: “Let me also appreciate my brother (Ekere) for also showing concern in the development of the Christian fold and the Christian world… I want to join my faith with what my brother has said. At the end of the day, it’s about us. It’s about the destiny of Akwa Ibom State…As we go into election this year, let the God of peace grant us peace. I join my faith with all Christians that, this is a Christian state, may we enjoy peaceful, credible and transparent elections in Jesus name.”
Akpabio, who equally spoke, testified on how prayer saved the life of his wife, Unoma, a devout Catholic, when she was in coma in a German hospital for four months in 2016.
He recalled his transformation of not only the physical infrastructure of the state but also the mental psyche of the people during his time as Governor.
“I wish to state it very clearly that the church doesn’t stand in preference to one party against the other,” he said. “There are my sons who are in PDP. There are my sons who are in APC. They all belong to me.”