Akwa Ibom: Indo’s cabal set to produce next Speaker
By Ifreke Nseowo
The next Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly would likely be produced from a cabal in the Assembly led by the Member Representing ONNA State Constituency, Hon. Nse Essien popularly known as Indomitable (Indo for short).
The life span of the 6th Assembly will come full circle on 7th of June 2019 as it was inaugurated on 8th of June 2015.
Indo, 49, who represents the governor in the state legislature commands a huge influence and respect amongst his colleagues. He leads a cabal that was initially known as G-5 which allegedly attempted toppling the speakership of Barr. Onofiok Luke, an allegation which they (members of the cabal) denied vehemently. The cabal has now grown in numbers.
Members of the cabal include Member Representing Ikot Abasi State Constituency, Hon. Uduak Odudoh, Member Representing Uyo State Constituency, Hon. Monday Eyo, Member Representing Ibesikpo Asutan State Constituency, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Uko, Member Representing Uruan State Constituency, Hon. Aniekan Bassey, Member Representing Nsit Atai State Constituency, Hon. Mark Esset, Member Representing Oron/Udung Uko State Constituency, Hon. Effiong Bassey, and Hon. Asuquo Archibong of Urueffong/Oruko State Constituency. And more may likely join.
Out of the above-mentioned legislators, only Monday Eyo of Uyo State Constituency failed to make it to the yet to be inaugurated 7th Assembly having lost the PDP ticket to Hon. Anietie Eka.
Schemings, consultations, and horse-trading have begun in earnest ahead of the June 10 inauguration of the house.
The three top contenders for Onofiok Luke’s successorship are Aniekan Bassey, Aniekan Uko and Mark Esset.
Mark Esset and Aniekan Uko are said to have begun lobbying key stakeholders of PDP and some influential figures at Hilltop Mansion.
Aniekan Bassey, the unassuming Uruan-born legislator, according to a source close to him is very indifferent about the speakership tussle.
“If you know Aniekan Uko very well, you will know that he doesn’t struggle for things. At the moment, he is largely uninterested in the speakership seat. But if the governor tells him to become the next speaker, he will definitely not reject the governor’s offer. He is not consulting. In fact, those who have started hailing him as “Mr. Speaker” have been rebuked by him. That’s how uninterested he is”, said one of our sources from Uruan.
THE ODDS FOR/AGAINST THEM
Ordinarily, Aniekan Uko should be favoured for the job because he has the speakership experience having held the position for 6 months in 2015 before he was shown the exit door by the courts. But many analysts say he misused his 6 months stay in office as speaker as he allegedly got intoxicated by power. The incessant abuse of siren and high handedness of his convoy didn’t sink in well with members of the masses. But those close to him say that after he lost his speakership position, he learnt a lot of lessons.
“He has changed. He learnt his lessons. He is now more mature all round and if given another opportunity to serve as speaker, he will make judicious use of it and serve better”, said an ally of Aniekan Uko.
Another factor that may stand against him is that he is said to be over-ambitious and not easily mendable. Those who are conversant with the executive-legislature relationship in Nigerian political space say that the executive are mostly averse to having an over-ambitious and too independent minded leader of the legislature. Whispers in the political grapevine has it that if he is handed the speakership position, he may use it as a ladder to pursue the governorship election in 2023 when zoning will favour Uyo Senatorial District.
But no doubt, he is a fine legislator who is eloquent and can ably represent the state in the comity of Nigerian parliament speakers. If he is able to get the “system” (executive) to endorse his ambition and also get the nod of his cabal leader (Indo), then he may as well be on his way to having a second shot at the state’s number 3 seat.
Our Government House informant told our reporter that Aniekan Bassey may likely get the nod for the speakership position from the governor. According to our source, “the system feels at home with Aniekan Bassey” because he is level headed and not over-ambitious. “The system believes he will bring the necessary stability and calmness to the house. Onofiok Luke was always saying the 6th Assembly under his leadership is not only rubber-stamp but iron seal. But, I guess the system believes an Aniekan Bassey leadership would be a true definition of iron seal because he is mendable in nature. He won’t give the executive problems at all. Those who have the ears of the governor are pushing the Aniekan Bassey agenda”, said our source.
We learnt on good authority that Aniekan Bassey would have been made Speaker on the 21st of December, 2015 as he had earlier been endorsed for the position by the governor.
“The governor likes him a lot. He was endorsed by the governor for the speakership position. The Indo-led cabal was in support of Aniekan. In fact, he had prepared the speech he wanted delivering immediately he is made speaker. But there was a plot twist, things changed all of a sudden on the morning of 21st December, 2015 and Onofiok Luke emerged. I don’t want to go into details but just know that the governor likes Aniekan Bassey and since that opportunity fell through then, he (the Governor) may give it another try”, another source told TheMail.
Two factors may work against him. Many believe he is not sound and eloquent enough to be Speaker. Secondly, he has been blackmailed to the governor as being a member of a certain religious family which the governor is allegedly not comfortable with, an allegation TheMail newspaper is yet to independently confirm.
“Those who say Aniekan Bassey is not sound don’t know him much. If they had said he is a man of view words, I would agree with them into to. But if they say that is not sound, then it is not true. Aniekan is very intelligent and smart and that is what the governor needs. It is not every speaker that must be like Onofiok Luke who is outspoken. Look at Sam Ikon and Anietie Etuk, or even Dogara and Saraki, they were/are not loud as leaders of the parliament but they discharged their duties creditably well. It is absolutely fallacious to say Aniekan isn’t sound. He is not sound but how did he get his first degree in Chemistry? How did he get his second degree in Sociology and Anthropology? He is currently doing his Masters in Sociology and Anthropology. In Udom’s second term, it is Aniekan Bassey that would fit in well in to the governor’s completion agenda because Aniekan isn’t over-ambitious and he will give the governor hundred percent support to succeed”, said a top politician from Uruan who is said to have the ears of the governor.
According to a member of the Indo-led cabal who spoke to TheMail on condition of anonymity, Mark is not one of the favorites of the cabal. “In fact, if the group (the cabal) is to present a candidate for the position, it definitely would not be him. He may be third in the pecking order behind the two Aniekans”, said our source.
Mark is said to lack the charisma to be Speaker, according to those in the know. He is said to be arrogant, brash, and uncoordinated. “He does not enjoy the camaraderie of members”, said an assemblyman.
He does not enjoy the support of the executive, according to our source, “because of the dynamic nature of politics, you underrate and rule out someone at your own peril. Don’t rule Mark out. He may not enjoy so much support at the moment but things could change at the dying minute. The system may not like him because he is not cool-headed like Aniekan Bassey but he will still contest because zoning favours him”.
THE DARK HORSES
Barr Aniefiok Dennis is one of the dark horses for the speakership job. If the position slips through the hands of Uyo Federal Constituency again, it may land in Etinan Federal Constituency and Barr. Dennis may be a beneficiary. He is the only returning member from that federal constituency. Ifiok O.S Udoh a.k.a Bengun and 26-year old son of Senator Effiong Bob, Barr. Otobong Bob representing Nsit Ibom and Nsit Ubium State Constituencies respectively will be greenhorns in the 7th Assembly, leaving the lot to fall on Dennis of Etinan Federal Constituency. But what may work against Dennis is his affinity to the Akpabios. Dennis served as PA Legal and Documentation to Governor Godswill Akpabio. He is said to be in charge of several properties of the Akpabio family. This may count against him as the system will not want anybody who is seen as having anything to do with the former governor of the state.
Anietie Eka will be replacing Monday Eyo as the Uyo mouthpiece in the state Assembly by June. By legislative rules, he is a fresher, hence not qualified for the position. But a precedent was set on June 8, 2015, when Aniekan Uko emerged as Speaker even though he was a first timer, beating favored ranking members like Barr. Ime Okon and Barr. Onofiok Luke.
A source close to the incoming House of Assembly member said Eka should not be ruled out.
“It is possible, very possible. He can clinch it”, said a close confidant of the Uyo lawmaker when asked about the possibility of his man becoming speaker.
Just like Aniekan Uko when he became speaker in 2015, Anietie Eka is a one-time lawmaker as he served as Councillor in the Uyo Local Government Legislative Council.
Though he is not a greenhorn in legislative business, what may stand against him may be that he is a first timer in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly. He is one out of 26 members of the house who are equal to each other, so he could throw in his hat into the ring.
Also, one of the factors that may stand in his way to the speakership seat is the Uyo political elites. The political elites believe that if Eka emerges Speaker of the AKHA, it will automatically dwarf their political influence and superiority in the LGA, hence they are likely not to give nod to Eka. This, according to a top politician from the LGA, was one of the reasons incumbent member of the house, Monday Eyo a.k.a Murray was stopped from going for a second term.
“If Eka becomes speaker, he will become the defector political leader of Uyo, others will just be bearing the name. For instance, if he calls a political meeting in his residence, every other politician invited for such meeting will have to attend the meeting in his residence, wheare as at the moment it is the other way round. The reason might be a bit petty but I assure you that is one of the reasons they won’t support Eka and they would discourage the governor from looking Eka’s way if they get an opportunity to do so”, said a top politician from Uyo who spoke on condition of anonymity.
One thing that counts in Edidem’s favour is that he is intelligent and intelligence is one thing the governor appreciates a whole lot. He is replacing the alleged over-ambitious and egoistic Hon. Idongesit Ituen who, according information at our disposal, would have contested for the speakership seat if he had flown the PDP ticket and won his re-election bid. Edidem who will be representing the Itu State Constituency in the 7th Assembly is one of the dark horses in the race and may be a major beneficiary if the seat slips through the hands of Aniekan Uko, Aniekan Bassey and Mark Esset. But just like in the case of Anietie Eka, he would be a green horn in the house which is one of the factors militating against the possibility of seeing Edidem, a former Council boss emerging Speaker of the state assembly.
Culled from TheMail Newspaper