A’Ibom North West 2019: A contest beyond Akpabio and Ekpenyong
..simply a pay back time!
By Emma Akpabio
Like a twig of tree jostled by a whirling tsunami, the 2019 poll for Ikot Ekpene senatorial District to some electorates, appears to be doomed, nay, plagued by indecision on whether to vote the party or individual.
The leading candidates are Chief Dr Godswill Akpabio (immediate past Governor of Akwa Ibom State) and Obong Engr Dr Chris Ekpenyong (one time deputy Governor). Chief Akpabio, the serving Senator of the area, recently defected with the mandate won under PDP to the APC, and is contesting for a second term.
Before defecting to the main opposition party in the State, Akpabio was a cheerleader of PDP, a kingpin, a king maker who monopolised about 90% of the political structure with unmatched followership across the state. Upon his unimaginable defection, many followers were not dogged in their loyalty to the Akpabio’s cause, because his major reason(s) for defection as revealed by the cheerful giver, remain non cogent to them.
Nevertheless, it remains indisputable that the shocks from Dr Akpabio’s defection to the main opposition party in the state has wrought and destabilize the plans of the PDP; it has also caused some emotional trauma in the hearts of Electorates, hence the indecision in the minds of many, even till date.
However, it is note worthy that Akpabio’s emergence as the Senator in 2015 was against the odds and conventional zoning arrangement, but his victory was made possible through the effort and consensus decision of “king makers” and political juggernauts of the area. This decision of the Elders indirectly made Akpabio the political “demigod” of the time.
Let it also be noted that it is only political Spectators, rumour mongers, neophytes and on-lookers, that would undermine the political dexterity and ability of Ukarakpa – the PDP candidate, who has been a key player in the political decisions of the district and State, even before Senator Akpabio came into the political picture of the area as a Commissioner in 2002. Real politicians know that no one should be underestimated. These facts make the former deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State not a walk over (as many people presume) for his main opponent – Senator Akpabio.
Independent survey reveals that majority of the Electorates in the area are still strong faithfuls of the PDP. Aside this, only a negligible percentage of political kingpins and decision makers in the district defected to the APC with the former Governor. On these basis, it is not hasty to conclude that, should the Senatorial district elections be done free and fair, Engr Ekpenyong, will have more chances of winning than Senator Akpabio.
Deepening the analysis, Ikot Ekpene Senatorial district has 8 Annang Speaking LGAs and 2 Ibibio speaking LGAs, which make it 10 local government areas in total.
Starting from Oruk Anam the largest LGA in the State and Ukanafun her closest neighbour. Apart from the fact that Senator Akpabio as a Governor for 8years completely neglected those areas, all the active and relevant political bigwigs in the area are still in PDP. While the few Elders in APC, have bad records of either poor performance over the years, total disconnect with the people, or have lost relevance and popularity, even in their villages.
Historically, Abak, Etim Ekpo/ Ika federal constituency remain the only federal constituency that has not tasted the Senatorial seat, out of the four federal constituencies that make up Ikot Ekpene Senatorial district. Ukanafun/Oruk Anam federal constituency handed over to Ikot Ekpene, Essien Udim/ Obot Akara federal constituency, then Ini/Ikono federal constituency took over for 8years. When it was the turn of Abak federal constituency in 2015, the people were tricked and eventually schemed out, making a return of the Senatorial seat to Essien Udim. Will these people be happy to vote back the forces that took their turn in 2015? Furthermore, Abak /Etim Ekpo, Ika cannot be compared to Essien Udim alone, in terms of projects that were executed in the 8years of previous Administration before Gov Udom.
Down to the Ibibio Speaking areas of the district, there are strong indications that Ini and Ikono Local Government Areas may play tribal sentiments over the matter. In this case, Gov Udom Emmanuel and the PDP remain top of their interest.
These two local government areas are having a major economic road for the first time under Governor Emmanuel, even when an indigene of the Senatorial district was in control of the State’s resources for 8years, they were not remembered. This neglect remain fresh in their memories.
In Ikot Ekpene federal constituency, concentration has always been in Essien Udim (though in some parts) and little section of Ikot Ekpene LGA. Like in many other federal constituencies, all political decision makers are still intact in the PDP, except a few, who defected from the PDP, either for personal interest or fear of the unknown.
On the part of the youths, wherever Annang youths gather for political analysis, accusation has always been that the APC candidate during his reign as the State Chief Executive, developed more Ibibio youths than the Annang youths. This is another point that triggers anger in their minds and may likely reflect during the 2019 polls.
The 2019 contest is therefore not between Godswill Akpabio and Chris Ekpenyong per se, but between Godswill and the aggrieved youths, the neglected areas and many other political Elites vying the same position of the most influential political leader of the district.
The duo who are key contestants for Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District seat are men that have been previously given opportunities to lead the people. Therefore, the forth coming election in the area will be a serious test of antecedent and pay back time.