Special Report: Inside the politics of Akwa Ibom State, the Christopher Ekpenyong Story
By Abel Udoekene and Kemfon Daniel
Born on September 29, 1954, Christopher Ekpenyong fondly called Ukarapa holds a master’s degree in business administration from Kensington University, Glendale, California, in America, He was the Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State between 1999 – 2005 and Currently the Senator-Elect for Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District.
In this Interview with Nigeria Today, Christopher Ekpenyong outlines his struggle during the general elections and his plans for Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria.
Nigeria Today: Let us start by congratulating you on your hard-fought victory. What was the process of the election like? What were the challenges?
Chris: First and foremost, we must give thanks to God, who is the author and finisher of our faith. Who gave me the courage and strength to contest the election. If I had no courage, Akwa Ibom People will still be in their cocoon of self-embellishment, because one man came out and showed Akwa Ibom people that there was a different person in life than God, he likens himself to God, he even took out the attribute of God and say he was God. But no one cares to question such a man, a man who was a commissioner for six years, Governor for 8 years, yet there were no economic indices to established his love for the State.
He even had another opportunity to serve our Senatorial District for 4 years, he should be thanking God for the opportunity to serve not trying to play God. Then at the appointed time God came and fetch me out as he fetches David from the wilderness and says come out and take these my people out of deception, out of economic subjugation and I came out and the rest is history. When they say that I had no legs, I cannot crawl, they even brought out propaganda that I was a cripple, but thank God, If God actually made a cripple to walk, that same God of yesterday is the same God today and he had made me defeat Goliath for the interest of Akwa Ibom State.
Nigeria Today: Going forward, do you have any specific recommendation to INEC regarding the electoral process?
Chris: I have always been an advocate of free and fair election. I won an election at the age of 28, I was a member of the Cross River State House of Assembly, I defeated an Incumbent, I never had bags of money, I had always stood on the side of the masses, believing that there must be a line of growth for everyone and the only way that can be achieve is through democratic process, allowing the masses to choose who lead or represent them without interference from the military and the umpire being neutral.
What I saw in Akwa Ibom was a clear case of what I prayed for, that the Independent National Electoral Commission in Akwa Ibom was purely independent, unbiased, had no relationship with any political party, that is while you find the APC in Akwa Ibom crying because they had wanted to have an intercourse with INEC and they rejected it. To an extent of going out to ask them to name their price in dollars but they rejected it, because of the rejection, INEC became a bad umpire for the APC.
On our part, we were doing our campaign while they were going round trying to bribe INEC official, at the end we won the election and He is crying, to a point now that he has run to the tribunal, well it good, the law will take its course. I was duly elected by my people and I am confident that I will represent them well in the 9th Senate.
Nigeria Today: Considering that you were able to get into politics at a very young age, would you say that young people are prepared to get into politics, or would you say that there is a barrier set aside by older people to prevent young people from playing active roles in governance?
Chris: At the time I went into active politic in 1992, I had Elders, I contested against an incumbent who had two wives, many children, houses and Cars. I had no wife, I had no car, I did not even own a bicycle but I defeated him. Because I had a vision, and I was concern with how I can contribute to the ensure that my people have a better life.
My major concern is that youths of today cannot differentiate between truth and lies, light and darkness. You see a man who comes to you and tell you that he is building a road in Ikono, on Paper, the road was completed and a certificate of completion issued, he took loans in the name of constructing that road and the people rewarded him with a Senatorial seat, he leaves the people with loan and without that road, but On Social and Print media that road linking Ikot Nseyen in Ikono was done. You could imagine such a man in 2011 awarding contract in Obot Akara and saying he was constructing the first phase of 10KM of road from Obot Ikpa Anang, and he started it but constructed just 4.2km of the road and spent about 4.9 billion naira. Well, that is little, I’m not talking about Tropicana, Use Ikot Amama road that he used to dupe Akwa Ibom State and the youths are still clapping hands for him. How can youths develop themselves under such embryo?
Abraham Lincoln says a man is his own architect fortune and misfortune, the youths of Akwa Ibom, the youths of Nigeria will make themselves what they want to be. Look at the voter’s register, check the percentage of young people, you will see that the youth have the capacity to make a change that is Phenomenal in Nigeria.
Nigeria Today: Let us look at the 9th Senate, what should we expect from Christopher Ekpenyong?
I am going to the National Assembly, I have collected my certificate of return, I have what it takes to be there, I have the capacity, the capability, I have the wisdom, I have the knowledge and I have the history. If you look at the history of Nigeria from Independence till date, road is still a problem, power is a problem, unemployment is eating deep into our unity, water has become a political issue. It is so sad that after so many years we cannot provide basic amenities for our people. We will look into how to adress this issues and many more