The political landscape in Akwa Ibom State was in tremor, yesterday, after the Deputy Governor of the state, Mr. Nsima Ekere, resigned from office.
Ekere in a two-paragraph letter to Governor Godswil Akpabio claimed to have resigned for personal reasons.
However, it was generally believed last night that the resignation was tendered to stave off an impeachment notice from the House of Assembly which it was learnt had been articulated.
Ekere, who until now had been considered as one of the leading candidates to succeed Governor Akpabio in the 2015 election, Vanguard gathered, was caught up in the intrigues surrounding the 2015 race.
His resignation followed orchestrated moves by the state House of Assembly to present an article for his impeachment today.
It was gathered that as many as 20 members in the 26 member House of Assembly had already signed the article of impeachment of the deputy governor.
In the resignation letter, dated October 31, 2012, Ekere said: “Pursuant to Section 306 (5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), I kindly notify you of my resignation from the office of Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State forthwith on personal grounds.
“I want to thank you immensely for the opportunity to serve Akwa Ibom State and wish you and the good people of Akwa Ibom State well in the remaining years of your administration.”
The resignation letter personally signed by Mr. Ekere was received by the governor, yesterday.
However, close aides of the governor were as at last night claiming ignorance of the development and the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Aniekan Umanah, could not be reached as his telephones were off.
Ekere’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Inemesit Ina, however, confirmed the development in a statement yesterday evening, saying: “The Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Nsima Ekere, has resigned from office.’’
The impeachment move against Ekere
Earlier yesterday morning, as the move against the former Deputy Governor gathered pace in the House of Assembly with the collection of signatures, his Press Secretary had denied the move when Vanguard sought his reaction to the unfolding development.
But while denying the move, he at the same time sought to know how many members were involved in the plot.
The impeachment move and consequent resignation, Vanguard gathered, was a direct fallout from Ekere’s moves to position himself in pole position to succeed Akpabio.
Akpabio, it was gathered, had quietly positioned moles in the camps of some of the leading contenders for his job. One of such moles, it was learnt, fed Akpabio on how Ekere planned to assume the governorship in 2015 in a move that reportedly seriously perturbed Governor Akpabio.
While the move to undo the Deputy Governor started underground since last week, Ekere’s efforts to stop the impeachment and save his job could not see the light of the day.
Before he threw in the towel yesterday evening, Mr. Ekere could only count on the support of six members of the House.
The decision to resign it was learnt, was apparently aimed at staving off the negative constitutional impediment of an impeachment that could jeopardise any political ambition of his in the future.
Mr. Ekere is the second deputy governor to serve under Mr. Akpabio. The first was Mr. Patrick Ekpotu who served in the first term between 2007 and 2011.
Ekere had contested the bitter 2007 governorship primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP contest with Akpabio and Mr. Ita Ekarika who was reportedly favoured by the then incumbent governor, Obong Victor Attah.
Following the inconclusive primaries Ekere had stepped down to stop further bickering a decision that at that time prompted Akpabio to propose him as his deputy.
However, upon Attah’s insistence on having a representation on the ticket, Ekpotu, who served as his commissioner for Information was nominated as Akpabio’s deputy for the 2007 election.
Ahead of the 2011 gubernatorial election Akpabio, however, dropped Ekpotu and picked Ekere as his running mate for the last election.
Opinion on the development was mixed last night with major political stakeholders preferring to keep mute on the development which is bound to shake up the 2015 contest.