Emmanuel Second term bid Under Serious Contention

By Emmanuel Uffot

 Udom Emmanuel, governor of akwa Ibom in the August 2018 party primaries had declared his second term bid to a mammoth crowd of supporters that had in attendance Nyesom Wike and okezie ikpeazu of his counterparts in Rivers and Abia states.

  The governor is particularly upbeat that despite the drop in the federal allocation to the state in the past 3 years his government has been able to navigate the troubled waters by paying salaries, pension and gratuities promptly when workers in most States  of the Federation were groaning with backlog of unpaid salaries.

 According to the governor, his achievements were. were Anchored on his re- election campaign 5 point agenda- wealth. job creation, economic and political inclusion, poverty alleviation, industrialization and infrastructural development. His scorecard on his agenda of industrialising the state includes, toothpick and pencil company which he inaugurated in his one year in office and putting back to live the moribund peacock paint company. Other notable industries his administration has brought back to life are the syringe Manufacturing company which he said on completion will curb capital flight by servicing the public and private hospitals in Nigeria. There is also a metering company that is to produce electricity meters, coconut refinery reputed to be the first of its kind in Nigeria and flour mill.

He noted that his government has also built many power plants to boost electricity supply in the state and a record of construction of 1,700 kilometers of roads. Apart from rehabilitation of schools and hospitals in the state, he said his government has trained 20,000 youths on vocational skills under his empowerment scheme.

 Governor Emmanuel who is touted by his supporters as a promise keeper say a lot still need to be done that is why he is seeking another mandate from akwa Ibom people to give him another chance to continue the good work.

 Indeed, going by the antecedent of PDP performance in elections in Akwa ibom  by controlling all the political structures since 1999, one would have concluded that Emmanuel based on his performance to date,would have an easy ride to government house again March 9, 2019, but that seems not to be the case if the twist in the political fortunes of the opposition APC is anything to go by.

 The APC whose fortunes has been boosted by the mind boggling defection of senator Godswill akpabio to ,analysts argue that the party has a strong base to give PDP a strong challenge. Infact they postulate that the governor has his predecessor akpabio and not necessarily his APC rival Nsima Ekere to contend with in the election.

 Akpabio it could be recalled had convinced the incumbent governor to vacate his exalted position as executive director of zenith Bank to become governor in 2015. Curiously even as at 2017, akpabio had at different fora particularly the grand reception of the governor by the three major tribes of Ibibio, annang and oron hailed governor as a worthy successor and had in those occasions endorsed him foraSecond term.

 But last year rumours went viral that there existed a frosty relationship between the governor and senator akpabio. The former governor confirmed this later at a function in Abak, accusing HIM of marginalising his ikot ekpene senatorial district in distribution of projects. He pointed at the Uyo- ikot Ekpene road and four point hotel in ikot ekpene he alleged has been abandoned by  Emmanuel. He was said to have threatened to withdraw his support if the trend was not reversed. Akpabo is now with APC,

 But the governor has insisted that contrary to the claim of marginalisation by akpabio, he did everything to satisfy him but he cannot be contented. He said he met Uyo- ikot ekpene at only 3 kilometres construction but he has constructed 20 kilometres of the road. That he met the four point hotel as a mere erected building but been putting facilities on it and even got starwood group to acquire and manage it. Aside this, on assumption of office, he was said to have inherited 60 percent of akpabio’s..Commissioners and named the world class Ibom international stadium built by akpabio after him among others. So as the candidates are crises- crossing the state with their campaign, political analysts given the current picture have accessed the chances of the governor dusting the expected stiff challenge from the opposition APC which parades senator akpabio,Umana Umana, managing director oil and gas free trade zone, Chief Don Etiebet, senator Ita Enang. The party flag bearer Nsima Ekere analysts argue that in spite of the defection of senator akpabio, unlike the case of the senate President Bukola saraki and sokoto governor Aminu tambuwal, PDP still enjoys 90 percent political structures. The state party chairman Paul Ekpo is with the governor. The speaker state house of assembly Barrister Onofiok Luke, a known grassroot mobiliser who earned his popularity in the politics as one of the key foot Soldiers of senator akpabio’s political ascendancy in the state is on the side of the governor. Senator Bassey Albert Akpan who represents Uyo senatorial district and commands a lot of followers both in his Itu/ ibiono federal constituency and the entire state is also on the side of the gover who is seeking reelection.

 Also of the 31 local government chairmen in the state, 90 percent are still in PDP, so also members of state House of Assembly. These people as usual would serve as the foot soldiers to mobilise votes for the governor in their respective constituencies on the March 9 . election.

Senator Godswill Akpabio: Former PDP senate Minority Leader

 The governor also enjoys the support of a prominent PDP bigwigs in the state like Senator Anietie Okon. Specifically, the existing zoning arrangement in the state favours the governor. He and the APC Candidate Nsima Ekere comes from the same Eket senatorial district. Going by the zoning arrangement in the state, Uyo senatorial district had ruled for  eight years beginning from  Obong Victor attah (1999-2007), followed by senator akpabio from ikot Ekpene senatorial district (2007-2015).

 Emmanuel is rounding up his first four years , thus remaining another four years for him to complete the eight years done by others befor him.  Moreover, the speaker of the state house Barrister luke from Uyo senatorial district who commands a lot of followers from the zone . This arrangement as it stands does not favour Ekere because not minding party sentiments,the people of Uyo senatorial district would want power to return to them in 2023. This in the reasoning of majority of them could only be possible if the governor is re- elected not Ekere.

  This perception has been indoctrinated in the minds of the people that some would not want APC with a long pole no matter how ‘ angelic’ its candidate is to win the March 9, governorshi election in the state

. This many believed will be another deciding factor in favour of the governor. Similarly, non- indigenes in the state predominantly Ibos, constitute..about 30 percent of the voting population and going by the perception of the people of the South- East people about APC and President Muhammadu buhari government, they are sure to vote PDP.

 Instructively, despite the political permutation tilting in favour of the governor going by the factors playing out itself, many believe that unlike before when PDP will sweep between 85-90 percent of the votes, the forthcoming governorship election in akwa ibom this time around would not be a work over for PDP as had always been the case since 1999.

he concern among many citizens and residents of the state is a likely violence precipitating the election given the rising tension and rivalry between the ruling PDP and APC which has deepened by the reported hate Statement credited to senator akpabio that the election is going to be a Warsaw war.

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