In the aftermath of the judgment of the Akwa Ibom State Governorship Election Tribunal, which in a rare display of legal illogicality had annulled elections in 18 out of the 31 local government areas, some sponsored write-ups have emerged to dress the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Akwa Ibom State in borrowed robes and ascribe undeserved plaudits to it. One of such revisionist article was published in THISDAY, THE SUNDAYNEWSPAPER of November 22, 2015, titled: “Why APC holds all the aces in Akwa Ibom,” by one Idara Okon-Inyang.
Even political novices know that the APC does not hold any ace in Akwa Ibom, not to talk of holding all the aces. Instead there is a consensus of sort that Akwa Ibom is a core Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) state, firmly in the grip of the party.
The strength of the party in the state is such that political pundits, except those who revel in their lies, know that no matter how many times elections are conducted freely in the state, PDP will always trounce any other party even if it is monitored by the United Nations.
It is therefore comical that a party that has no discernible structure in the state, whose members including the governorship candidate only jumped ship on the eve of the gubernatorial primaries, having purchased PDP nomination form, can claim to hold all the aces. Presently, the three Senators from the state are of the PDP. All the 10 House of Representatives members from the state belong to the PDP. Twenty-five out of the 26 members of the state House of Assembly are from PDP and the governor of the state is PDP. So which are “all the aces” held by the APC in Akwa Ibom State?
The strength and popularity of the PDP in Akwa Ibom State is not by happenstance. In the last eight years of the PDP administration with Chief Godswill Akpabio as the Governor, the people of the state have felt the impact of government. While the PDP administration had delivered on several turn-key projects like the International Airport, the E-Library, the Independent Power project, the underground drainage system using the pipe-jacking technology, the International Stadium, the Ibom Specialist Hospital, five flyover bridges and 35 other bridges; over 400 brand new urban roads spread across the state, and over 200 km dualised highways with street lights; there is hardly any community in the state that had not benefited from the uncommon transformation of the Akpabio administration through the provision of electricity to hitherto dark communities; healthcare facilities and free healthcare for children, pregnant women and the aged; the free and compulsory education policy with accompanying new school blocks and educational facilities.
So it is most laughable when Idara Okon-Inyang claimed in the article that, “the argument that Udom would win any fresh election in the state because of the popularity of Godswill Akpabio, who is his sponsor, is of dubious validity. Akpabio as of today is the most despised politician in Akwa Ibom State.” The truth is that Senator Akpabio is only “despised” by a tiny cabal of APC power mongers who see him as their nemesis and who believe he is the only obstacle to their divine right to rule the state.
The APC governorship candidate, Mr Umana Okon Umana, who today leads the band of those who despise Chief Akpabio because of his unfulfilled ambition of governing the state, had in a period spanning close to two decades served the PDP administration as the Director of Budget, Permanent Secretary and Commissioner for Finance. He had also served in the Akpabio administration as the Secretary to the State Government. While serving as the SSG for over six years, he was often introduced in public functions as the “Engine Room” of the Uncommon Transformation. He had also granted several interviews to praise the visionary leadership of Chief Akpabio. Today, because of political expediency, Mr Umana does not see anything good in an administration he was said to be the “Engine Room.”
No right-thinking and peace-loving person would despise Senator Akpabio for his insistence on justice to foster peaceful co-existence among Akwa Ibom people. His only crime which has elicited hate from this tiny cabal is his resolve that his successor must come from Eket Senatorial District which had never produced a governor, whether military or civilian, since the creation of the state 28 years ago. Uyo Senatorial District where Mr Umana comes from had produced three governors for Akwa Ibom State: Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (rtd), Obong Akpan Isemin and Obong Victor Attah who was Governor from 1999 to 2007. Chief Akpabio who succeeded Obong Attah as Governor from 2007 to May 2015 is from Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District.
It was on this premise during the build up to the 2015 general elections that the then Governor Akpabio held state-wide town hall meetings across the 10 federal constituencies, which were shown live on national television. And the consensus of the people was that in the interest of justice and fairness and to engender peaceful co-existence among Akwa Ibom people, Eket Senatorial District which had never produced a Governor be supported to produce one. This decision did not favour Mr Umana who is from the same neighbourhood with Obong Attah. Interestingly, Eket Senatorial District is the goose that lays the golden egg, being the oil producing area from which the resources to develop the state and the country is gotten from. And yet some people feel they should not produce the Governor.
For standing for justice, and his unprecedented development of infrastructural facilities, Akwa Ibom people have always celebrated Chief Akpabio even after leaving office. Just recently, Mboho Mkparawa Ibibio, a foremost socio-cultural organization rolled out the drum to celebrate the former Governor with an Outstanding Leadership award. Many other Akwa Ibom groups have lined up to honour the Senator in appreciation of his leadership of the state. So who are those who have despised Akpabio, except those who see him as a stumbling block to their vaulting and inordinate ambition?
With the performance so far of Mr Udom Emmanuel as the successor of Chief Akpabio, the decision of Akwa Ibom people have been justified. He has hit the ground running. Even with the lean resources now accruing to the state, the whole state has been turned into a huge construction site, with the inauguration of the construction of new roads and bridges almost a weekly occurrence. With an aggressive industrialization program, the state has witnessed the resuscitation of moribund industries like the Peacock Paint factory in Etinan and several ground-breaking ceremonies for new industries. This is even as hundreds of youths have been sent on training locally and internationally to empower them to create wealth and be self-dependent. Even his political opponents and critics secretly admit that Governor Emmanuel is doing well.
APC in Akwa Ibom State and their media hirelings can keep humouring themselves that a party which has no structure in the state “holds all the aces.” But the people know that APC in the state, more of internet creation, is a conglomeration of some aggrieved people who want to grab power at all cost, even though the state burns to ashes. Unfortunately, the ambition of their flag-bearer runs contrarily to the aspiration of the state, who are resolute that power must shift to Eket Senatorial District. And they said this loud and clear in the last gubernatorial election when the APC garnered less than 10 percent of the total votes. And no amount of propaganda or revisionism can change the peoples stand.
Ekong is the Special Assistant on Media to the Senate Minority Leader