The Succession Conundrum in A’Ibom: As War of Words between Governor, Guber Aspirants Heat Up the Polity.

BY BONNY A. SAMPSON

Governor Akpabio.

Governor Akpabio.

Men of Genius are admired, men of wealth are envied, men of power are feared, but only men of character are trusted. -Friedman Arthur

The hitherto fragile peace in the political landscape of Akwa Ibom appears ruffled recently following remarks credited to Governor Godswill Akpabio at a church service last week.
This voluble Governor Akpabio had at a thanksgiving service of his new SSG, Mr. Udom Emmanuel at Onna LGA, given tacit support to the rumours flying around that, Mr. Emmanuel was the “anointed” successor as Governor in 2015.
To give further impetus to the event, the Guest preacher at the occasion, the redoubtable Prophet Emmanuel Kure, President of Throne Room Ministries, Kaduna, made certain prophetic utterances which were largely interpreted to be a fait accompli (an action which has been done). But this new development has ruffled not a few stakeholders some of whom are already drawing daggers against the Governor.
At the centre of this war of words is not just the next zone to produce the new Governor, but on the vexing issue of Akpabio’s attempt to force a successor down the throat of the people.
To be sure, Eket senatorial District, which produces the oil-main stay of the economy – is unarguably, the next zone to take a shot at the Governorship race (in line with PDP policy of devolution of power) and the principle of natural justice.
In 2007, Akpabio from Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, received overwhelming support from stakeholders who agreed with the then Governor Victor Attah himself, from the popular Ibibio ruling class, to cede power to the minority Annang group in the spirit of equity and fairness.
The primary elections, keenly contested by over 50 aspirants majority of them were Ibibio sons like Nsima Ekere and others, Akpabio won the contest on the strength of equity and the republican disposition of the people who shared the general views that power must rotate around the 3 zones of Uyo, Ikot Ekpene and now Eket which is poised to take the next slot.
If Akpabio the incumbent Governor is supportive of this position (to get the next Governor from Eket), why is he being disparaged by his friends and political associates?
Chief Assam E. Assam, Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Kremlin in (Russia) and the Republic of Belarus who is from Eket and a front line aspirant, has been firing at full throttle against the Governor, for publicly indicating interest in Emmanuel.
Assam, the immediate past Attorney-General and commissioner for Justice to the Akwa Ibom State Government, was seen as the Governor’s alter ego when the going was good.
As a senior advocate (SAN) in the cabinet where the Governor was his junior both in age and the legal profession, Assam was credited with some great innovative government policy thrusts, which has become most of Akpabio’s flagship programmes today.
They both went on very well until some fifth columnists in the cabinet started pointing out to the Governor, about Assam’s growing profile and influence in the Government.
This may have been the main reason he was recommended for ambassadorial posting to scuttle his influence.
But there is a popular adage which says “you can only hunt the orphan into his place of destiny” how true?
As Ambassador Assam himself admitted, he did not envisage that type of political development that was to disconnect him from his people.
Hear him; “Their original thoughts and essence of recommending me for the ambassadorial appointment by the Governor, was to send me out so that I can lose out with the grassroots. (But) unfortunately for him (Governor), I have not lost out with my grass roots, I’m even more closer to my people now, thanks to Mr. President who in his wisdom decided to post me to (Moscow) which is at the political (focal centre) of world politics”
By reason of the peculiar posting, given what many people across the globe, see as the controversial posturing of Moscow on world affairs, Ambassador Assam consults with Mr. President very often and this affords him the opportunity to connect with his grassroots very often.
Ambassador Assam the debonair legal guru who appears to be angry with what he sees as Governor Akpabio’s meddlesome behavior in the choice of his successor, without due respect for the feelings of other aspirants also expressed disgust at the statement credited to Governor Akpabio over his ambition to the effect that he (Assam) is not “youth friendly”.
Taking a swipe at Governor Akpabio on that statement, Assam challenged the Governor Akpabio to point out specifically, any youth related programme he has done for the youth beside the usual “rabble rousing”, propaganda.
Again, hear him; “The accusation that I am not youth friendly came from my Governor, he said he would not support me because I am not friendly with the youth, this to my mind is the most invidious piece of blackmail. I challenge him to show me what percentage of the youth he has consciously empowered in the seven years, of his administration”.
“Let me ask my governor through this medium; how he can be youth friendly as Governor in about 7 years and there are no industries where youths are engaged so that the crime rate is reduced”.
The ambassador who is not comfortable with cliche- ridden catch words like new Akwa Ibom, new order (and all that), said he would come out with articulate blueprint for the state soon. He slammed Akpabio’s much talked about free and compulsory education, adding that there are no youth employment programme and good health care delivery in the state.
To him all these issues are to remain on the front burner of his campaign calendar in the next few months, when they will be released soon.
However, the most grueling part of this whole debate is the Umana Umana factor. Mr. Umana, the immediate past and influential Secretary to the Akwa Ibom State Government, SSG had stirred up the hornet’s nest when he is insisting that the race to the Hiltop mansion (Akwa Ibom government House) must be thrown open to every eligible aspirant from the state. He is from Uyo senatorial zone, which is not favoured by stakeholders to contest.
But Umana, a veteran and tested technocrat who was Akpabio’s “MAN-FRIDAY” in Government for nearly seven years, still leaves many people without doubt about his interest to succeed his former boss at the end of his tenure.
Umana’s political foot soldiers have continued to argue about the undemocratic concerns of the Akpabio gambit (openly throwing his weight) behind Eket zone, is not a fair deal.
Both parties have engaged each other in media wars in recent times prompting church leaders and other senior citizens to admonish the parties to be careful and watch their utterances “lest they set the state on fire”
Dr. Albert Udo, Snr pastor of Greater Faith Believers Mission, said it would be undemocratic to shut out others in the race adding that the field needs to be thrown open to all eligible contenders and all proper democratic standard observed.
The prelate rose in stout defense of his friend, Bishop Cletus Bassey whose recent spat with Akpabio on the raging controversy has been attracting unsavory commentaries across the board on the matter.
Bishop Bassey who, as chairman of the state Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), anointed Akpabio in 2011 for the second term race openly disavowed his rumoured support for the Governor’s position to support the emergence of his successor from Eket zone.
Mr. Umana reputedly blessed with stupendous war chest has courted the newly formed APC in Aks who are said to be struggling to hijack the party and put at his disposal.
But group Capt Sam Ewang, a notable APC chieftain was quick to dismiss the rumour as the drivel of mischief makers
Mr. Sampson, a fellow of Nigerian Institute of Public Administrators, is Consultant In-Chief to Veritas, publishing & media.

 

Culled from WeeklyInsight News

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