…Nobody can truncate the zoning arrangement in Nsit Atai – Sunny Elijah
…The zoning I initiated must stand – Gen. Edet Akpan
…House of Assembly seat must go to Ibedu – Commissioner Udoh
… I am constitutionally empowered to seek for any political office – Mark Esset
By John Ernest
All is not well in Nsit Atai Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, following the decision of the seating House of Assembly member representing Nsit Atai state constituency in Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Hon Mark Esset to contest for a second term.
The elders and political bigwigs in the local government disclosed this over the weekend at Odot in Nsit Atai LGA during the presentation of motorcycles to ward coordinators of Nsit Atai canvassers for Udom Emmanuel 2019. Nsit Atai Stakeholders insisted that the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly seat in the area come next year must go to Ibedu to complete the second round of the zoning arrangement, noting that all the three groups:
Afaha, Ibia-Ikot and Ibedu groups based on the zoning arrangement had completed their first round peaceful. “Nsit Atai Local Government belongs to all of us, so I say nobody; I repeat nobody in Nsit Atai can truncate the peaceful zoning arrangement of Nsit Atai LGA in terms of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly. That is why you see the highest chiefs in Nsit Atai here today”. Based on the peaceful zoning arrangement, the first person that went to House of Assembly as a result of the zoning under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was Hon. Inyang Ekpe who was from Afaha, from1999 to 2003; the second person was Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Ekpeyong, from 2003 to 2007, which was from Ibia-Ikot and completed the first round by Rt. Hon. Asuquo Darby Udoh from 2007 to 2011 who is here with us today. Which means all the clans; Afaha, Ibia-Ikot and Ibedu had their turns. On the second round, Hon. Sarah Elijah who is my wife from Afaha started it from 2011 to 2015 seconded by Hon.
Mark Esset from Ibia-Ikot from 2015 that will finish his tenure next year. We are doing this because we may not have the opportunity to gather everyone here again before PDP primaries. The next House of Assembly member from 2019-2023 will go to Ibedu. So we use this as a very major meeting where stakeholders gathered that no man, no woman, no child, nobody born by woman can Truncate the peaceful democratic system in Nsit Atai Local Government Area. So I want to say it today without missing words, after due consultations by women, youths, students and elders, we now decided that the next House of Assembly member has been zoned to Ibedu group of villages, and nobody can stop that arrangement. And that will complete the second round of the zoning. After that, we will now come back to this place and decide if it will be two terms or not. Anyone that will go against this zoning, it shall not be well with such person”, Prince Sunny Elijah said.
Speaking, Otuekong (Major Gen.) Edet Akpan in his fatherly role said nobody in Nsit Atai is bigger than Nsit Atai LGA, stressing that the zoning which he initiated must stand and he stands by that. While urging the people of Ibedu to go and look for a good person that will represent Nsit Atai in Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly next year, Gen. Akpan urged the young politicians in the area to respect elders, adding that it is not morally right for young people to disrespect elders. “The stakeholders in Nsit, had agreed that there was zoning, I want to inform you all today that zoning which I was the architect that zoning must stand. Anyone who has money to spend should spend the money but on zoning I stand. I want to charge Ibedu people to go and prepare, look for a good person that will represent Nsit Atai state constituency in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, nobody will change it.” He said.
Speaking in support of the zoning arrangement, the commissioner for Economic Development, Labour and Man Power Planning, Hon. Idorenyin Udoh, maintained that Nsit Atai House of Assembly seat must go to Ibedu. He recalled that the zoning arrangement came as a result of the acrimony in time past during elections period in Nsit Atai. Mr Udoh stated that the signatories in the zoning arrangement were; Major Gen. Edet Akpan from Afaha group, Dr Uko, representing Ibia-Ikot group and late Justice Ntia from Ibedu group. He emphasized that he stands by that arrangement.
When contacted, the member representing Nsit Atai State Constituency in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Hon. Mark Esset in his response said that zoning doesn’t barrier him from contesting for an election according to the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, stressing that his second term aspiration does not distort zoning arrangement in Nsit Atai local government area but described it as ‘tenure elongation’, “I am from Ibia-Ikot, the zoning arrangement we have in my local government is that when once it leaves a particular place, it goes to another place. It is not a time bound thing. Once it leaves Ibia-Ikot, it goes to Ibedu, it did not say after one year, it did not say after two years, it did not say after four years”.
The lawmaker buttressed his point by linking his action to the constitution, “the Nigeria constitution has given me the full right to contest election, and I tell people, in the world over the legislature has not time bound, what determines how long you go is your acceptability by your people. The executive have tenure bound, but in legislature, there is no tenure bound. Some people in some quarters are afraid because they know that I am going to win this election, like I told them, my aspiration doesn’t stop anybody from aspiring, if you win me, I will shake hands with you and work with you”.
It was also alleged that the Nsit Atai lawmaker gave royal fathers the sum of one hundred thousand (N100,000) naira asking them not to attend the function and even threatened the chiefs that he (the lawmaker) would retrieve certificates from any village heads that attends the event.
When Century Newsfront contacted across section of the royal fathers, they denied and described such as political insinuations and noted that royal fathers are not politicians and should not be drafted into such mess. Chief Mfon Sunday who is the village Head of Odot who spoke via his airtel line, 08124….64 debunked the rumour and said that he was personally present at the gathering that day, saying, such never happened. He admitted that there was zoning, adding that the chiefs has nothing to do with the zoning.