Two commissioners in Akwa Ibom who received a senator, Godswill Akpabio, at the airport in Uyo have been sacked by Governor Udom Emmanuel. The sacked commissioners are Victor Antai of Culture and Tourism, and Ibanga Akpabio of Labour, Productivity and Manpower Planning. The latter is a relative of the senator.
Mr Akpabio, who recently resigned from office as the Senate minority leader, ignited a political storm in Akwa over his planned defection from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
After his visit to APC leaders, including traveling to London to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari who is on a 10-day vacation, the senator landed in the Akwa Ibom International Airport, Uyo, on Tuesday and was received by Mr Antai, Mr Akpabio, and other top politicians in the state.
A jubilant crowd thronged the airport to welcome back the senator, who is a former governor of the state.
A statement issued on Tuesday evening by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Emmanuel Ekuwem, said Mr Antai and Mr Akpabio were sacked from the State Executive Council because of their “reluctance to comply with good governance processes of government”.
The statement asked the sacked commissioners to handover to the permanent secretaries in their respective ministries before the close of work on Wednesday.
Apart from Mr Antai and Mr Akpabio, other dignitaries who graced the senator’s reception in Ukana, Essien Udim Local Government Area, were the House of Representatives members, Emmanuel Ekon (Abak federal constituency) and Emmanuel Akpan (Ikot Ekpene federal constituency), as well as a state lawmaker representing Essien Udim, Nse Ntuen.
Mr Akpabio is expected to be officially received into the APC on Wednesday at a political rally in Ikot Ekpene.
Victor Antai, commissioner of Culture and Tourism
There is a general apprehension in the state that some high profile state government officials and PDP chieftains may likely defect to the APC with the senator.