By Emmanuel Uffot
In spite of the tension enveloping Akwa Ibom state given the brickbats and drums of war from the main opposition, the All Progressives Congress, APC, ahead of Saturday March 9 Governorship and States House of Assembly election, political permutations predicts a comfortable victory for Udom Emmanuel, the state governor, who is seeking re-election.
Prior to the Presidential and National Assembly election of February 23, 2019, bookmakers had predicted a difficult battle for the incumbent governor. The postulation was hinged on Senator Godswill Akpabio defection to APC which on paper had boosted the opposition party’s strength in the state.
However, the performance of the ruling PDP, in the February 23, election has nonetheless changed the apparent hazy chance of Governor Udom having a smooth ride back to the Hilltop Mansion popular,Government House , to a bright one. In that election, PDP won all the local government areas in the state for its Presidential candidate, AAtiku Abubakar , a former Vice President and equally reclaimed all the Senatorial seats that were lost to APC through the defection of senators Godswill Akpabio of Ikot Ekpene Senatorial Disrict and Nelson Effiong of Eket Senatorial District. PDP had also won all the House of Representatives seats of the Federal Constituencies in the state.
That Senator Akpabio was defeated in his senatorial constituency was contrary to the pre-election projection that he will deliver the 10 local government areas of his senatorial district to APC has not only politically demystified the Essien Udim born senator but has sent a strong signal that Governor Udom may be coasting home to victory on Saturday.
Other factors political analysts have pointed out that should work in favour of the governor include PDP consolidation of its control of the political structures across the state. Again, the defeat of Akpabio and the emergence of Christopher Ekpeyong, the elected senator and former deputy governor of the state who is a strong political force in the Akpabio axis of Ikot Ekpene, Obot Akara and his Essien Udim is an added advantage to the governor’s projected votes from the area. Similarly, Senator Aloysius Etuk who is from that same Ikot Ekpene senatorial district but hails from one of the two Ibibio speaking local governments in the Annang dominated Ikot Ekpene senatorial district is sure to work hard for the Governor to deliver his area. Senator Etuk has not forgiven Akpabio for using the state resources to muscle him out of the senatorial race in 2015 and will definitely mobilize his people to go thePDP way as they did in the last presidential and national assembly election.
Another key factor analysts project should work in favour of the governor is the existing zoning structure in the state which does not favour his main opponent Nsima Ekere of APC. Ekere is from the same Eket senatorial district with the governor. Going by the zoning arrangement, Uyo senatorial district had produced former governor Victor Attah ,who governed for two terms of 8 years followed by Akpabio of Ikot Ekpene senatorial district. The Value News gathered that going by the existing zoning structure not withstanding party leaning, Eket Senatorial district is expected to also serve for 8 years before power returns to Uyo senatorial district in 2023.
Given the fact that the governor is serving out his first term which ends on May 29,2019,so the senatorial district still has another 4 years to complete their tenure based on the zoning arrangement which Akpabio himself had used in justifying the choice of governor Udom which does not favour Ekere , irrespective of party affiliation as the people of Uyo senatorial district would wish the governor completes his 8 years so that they take back power.
It is also instructive to note that two other factors according to analysts will sway votes for the governor in Ikot Ekpene senatorial district which looks like the battle ground. The governor is a son-Inlaw of Annang extraction where his wife Martha hails from. Beyond that, the Governor’s wife has in the past three years empowered many women in her area in particular and Akwa Ibom in general through her empowerment programme, FEYREP. Because of this, it is believed that this gesture which has endeared her to women in her community and its environs is going to impact positively on the voting pattern of women in the area and across the state in favour of the governor Udom.
Another factor that political pundits predict will sway votes for the governor is the fact that an average Akwa Ibom indigene sees APC as a ‘Yoruba Party’. Historically, the people from the area have always voted for a party that has nationalistic outlook since the era of NPN in 1979. So they see PDP as fitting into the category of a party which national outlook. Going by the overwhelming victory of PDP in the February 23 election in the state, political observers do not foresee any change in the voting pattern which gave PDP a landslide in the state.
More so, just like in Lagos which is thickly populated by the Ibos among the legion of non-indigenes, Governor Udom Emmanuel is expected reap from the votes of the Ibos residing in the state.
Two other significant factors that are expected to serve as a springboard to boost Governor Udom’s predicted re-election are said to be his achievements so far and the key PDP stakeholders in the state that are behind him. Many citizens of the state have adjudged the governor as having performed well in infrastructural development and industrialization of the state.
During his second term bid declaration last year, the Governor listed his score card to include- establishment of toothpick and pencil industries, revitalization of the moribund Peacock Paint Industry, building of Syringe industry ,Electric Metering company, Coconut Refinery and Flour Mill all ongoing. He was said to have declared that his government had also constructed over 1700 kilometres of roads across the state, built power plants to boost electricity supply in the state and empower over 20,000 youths on vocational skills in line with his pre-election campaign 5 point agenda of –wealth creation, industrialization, infrastructural development, poverty alleviation and economic and political inclusion. Furthermore, the governor now boast of an enriched united PDP caucus in the state who are working for his re-election. They include the Speaker Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly Barrister Onofiok Luke, who has been elected to represent Etinan/Nsit Ubium Federal Constituency. He is known to be a grass root mobiliser and commands large followers which he will deploy to vote for the governor.
There is also Senator Bassey Albert Akpan who has been re-elected senator Uyo senatorial district and the state party chairman Paul Ekpo among others.
The Oron axis the third major ethnic group in the state which prior to the last election had looked a battle ground for the PDP and APC with the later having a sitting senator which went to Atiku and PDP. So the zone which has PDP stalwarts like Chris Abasieyo, new Senator elect Mrs Akon Ayakenyi and the Secretary to the State Government D Emmanuel Ekuwem who are expected to vote overwhelmingly for PDP like they did in the Presidential and National Assembly election.
However, ahead of the election on Saturday, The Value News gathered that there is palpable tension in the state. Sources in the state told The Magazine that Akpabio having lost the election woefully to the ruling party, he is alleged to be working to be hatching a plot with the APC to cause violence with the aim of disrupting election in parts of the state. It could be recalled that Akpabio had last year said that the coming election will be a Warsaw war. So the thinking of many is who see him as a drowning man is that as he is already down after his defeat he could go at any length to cause problem during the election.
Indeed, if Governor Udom wins his re-election bid, he will go into record among the godsons that tamed their godfathers and that will signal the demystification of Senator Akpabio’s political prowess in the state and complete annihilation of his political structures i.
A PDP chieftain in the state sum up Akpabio’s current political fortune thus-“A man who decided to jump down from a three storey building when the staircase is there is expected to crash land and then pick his pieces and go home”. He should not expect any sympathy, he had said.
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