By Saviour Ekpe
By political, social or conscientious arrangement, Akwa Ibom North-East (popularly referred to as Uyo) Senatorial District has the privilege of producing next governor of the state come 2023, if all things are equal. For the purposes of clarity, Akwa Ibom North-East Senatorial District comprises Uyo, Itu, Uruan, Nsit Ubium and Nsit Ibom local government areas. Others are Etinan, Ibiono Ibom, Ibesikpo Asutan and Nsit Atai local government areas. To put it according to their political blocs, Akwa Ibom North-East (Uyo) Senatorial District of the State is made up of three Etinan, Uyo and Itu Federal Constituencies. On the account of this, many sons and even daughters, if you ask me, of the area would line up for roll call, though we are aware of some sympathizers from other senatorial districts who will show up for the contest.
It could be recalled that in the present geographical location called Akwa Ibom State since her creation in 1987, democratically speaking, Akwa Ibom North-East Senatorial District had produced the Hill Top Mansion occupants in the person of Late Obong Akpan Isemin whose tenure was punctuated by the military ‘take over’. In 1999, another worthy son of the area, Arc. (Obong) Victor Attah who was also duly elected who occupied the Mansion for two terms of eight years. At the expiration of his tenure, Obong Attah did pronounce that the next occupant of the Mansion after him would come from Akwa Ibom North-West (Ikot Ekpene) Senatorial District and added ‘with Annang in mind’. Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District being the second most populated after Uyo, has the Annang speaking people as the majority. Though Obong Attah rooted for his son in law, Dr. Udoma Bob Ekarika and the entire political, security, media arsenals were directed toward the course including state resources, not because Dr. Udoma Bob Ekarika was not good but the will and power of the people prevailed.
Between 2007 and 2015, Chief (Dr.) Godswill Obot Akpabio from the majority sect of Akwa Ibom North-West (Ikot Ekpene) Senatorial District occupied the Mansion who enjoyed exceptional financial flow through federal allocations, which was fought and brought to fruition by Obong Victor Attah during his reign. 2015 gubernatorial race in Akwa Ibom wrought surprises again. As was naturally zoned to Akwa Ibom South (Eket) Senatorial District, though the arrangement, was viewed by analysts to be truncated by political guru of the time, Obong Umana Umana who was too popular, too rich and too connected to be governor whose aspiration was endorsed by almost everyone until was redirected in favour of Akwa Ibom South (Eket) Senatorial District with Udom Emmanuel who emerged from the ‘moon’ got the party ticket, got the acceptance, got elected and became governor with less stress.
2019 came for the reelection of the incumbent, Udom Emmanuel, given his political party minority status at the national politics, the ‘uncommon defection’ of his predecessor, Chief Godswill Akpabio to the national party and the emergence of Obong Nsima Ekere as his party standard-bearer. The political pendulum tilted towards Obong Nsima Ekere who was very powerful as a result of financial muscles he pulled, coupled with his national party influence while the chant of ‘warsaw saw war, saw war’ slogan was ringing in the air. In the end, a sort of protest vote that gave the incumbent an edge and victory overall, played out to still show that the will and power of the people are still active, though the election was adjudged to be massively rigged through monevated vote buying and selling.
The next three years will witness another change of baton with Akwa Ibom North-East Senatorial District in the big picture. So far, top political gladiators have indicated some levels of interest while others are still doing some permutations for the possible outcome. Some levels of political meetings are going on nocturnally with the aim of wooing supporters to their camps, certain appointments as ‘SAs’ and ‘PAs’ and other nomenclatural titles that are unheard of by occupants of political offices have been created while some are picking calls hitherto were ignoring with a slogan, ‘pressure of office’, some have started attending burials, wedding etc ceremonies in order to make themselves popular and accepted by the people.
It is true that the incumbent occupier of the Hill Top Mansion, Mr. Udom Gabriel Emmanuel has instructed his appointees who have political ambition in 2023 to resign their appointment; this is maybe to avoid unnecessary distraction in the system, our searchlight on some politicians show that such instructions are ignored.
2023 though too far but very close, as it beacons with nostalgia for political juggernauts to do their permutations; so far, certain names from Akwa Ibom North East have been mentioned for indicating interest in the game. The big question is, who will emerge at the end of the day? The Holy writ says that “the race isn’t [won] by fast runners or the battle by heroes. But time and unpredictable events overtake all of them”. Ecclesiastes 9:11 (God’s Word Translation). If I may go a bit Biblical, in the book of Daniel, the bible records that “the Most High God rules over the kingdoms of men. God gives those kingdoms to anyone he wants. And he chooses people to rule them who are not proud” Daniel 4:17 (International Children’s Bible), that should not stop people from aspiring after all, if people don’t aspire, what will party men and women ‘chop?’
Another big question is, what kind of person should govern Akwa Ibom State? Akwa Ibom State needs a God-fearing governor. A man that will further unite the state. A man that is liberal but diligent in spending. A man that can control his family well. A man that is ready to lead Akwa Ibom people not ruling them. A man with a human heart. A man that will take the safety and security of the people as paramount. A man that though charity can begin at home but sees the entire state as his constituency. Akwa Ibom people do not need angel as governor but A MAN that will leverage them from the shackles of poverty, pains and pettiness.
In 2023 governorship election, wealth, popularity, political connection may not suffice, the influence of the incumbent may not either though; God can still use the incumbent to perfect His plans if He wishes for He knows the end from the beginning and can do all things. I will as a matter of responsibility attempt to highlight and analyze each contestant; their antecedents, successes, failures and possible prospect for the Akwa Ibom project as 2023 approaches with a view to giving Akwa Ibom people clearer picture of those that come out to seek for their support to rule or lead them.