Zoning, marginalisation in A’Ibom guber politics
OIL politics, allegations of neglects and zoning arrangements are three issues that are likely to determine the outcome of the next governorship elections in Akwa-Ibom state. Already the people of Eket Senatorial District have been expressing their displeasure about what they called the underdevelopment of their area and stressing the need to use the coming poll to redress the situation.
To the Eket people who have not produced a governor since the creation of the state in 1987 by the military administration of Ibrahim Babangida, it is time to implement a zoning arrangement that would favour them in producing the next governor for the state.
They argue that despite the fact that their oil-producing senatorial district is the goose that lays the golden egg; the area has been so neglected and abandoned. The proceeds from crude oil production for the government through the joint venture operations with Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN) come from the senatorial zone as well as the huge monthly revenue of the state government through the 13 percent derivation from the federation account.
Past and present governors of the state have come from either Uyo or Ikot Ekpene Senatorial zones while Eket, produced deputy governors. Thus it is expected that with an arrangement where the governorship is zoned to Eket Senatorial, the position of deputy should go to Uyo Senatorial in the spirit of equity, justice and fair politics.
It is in the light of this that a groundswell of opinion is building up in favour of the emergence of Senator Helen Esuene, a female governorship candidate of the Labour Party (LP) who hails from Eket Senatorial District especially from people of the zone who see her candidacy as a way to assuage their feelings of marginalisation.
Founding President of Afigh Iwaad Ekid, a popular youth organisation in Eket senatorial district, Obong Mbong Mbong, said, “since the creation of Akwa Ibom state, the Eket people have not produced a governor. If Senator Esuene did not come out and chosen by the G. 22, what would have happened to Eket for the next 8 years?
“If we miss this chance when will it ever come again? We cannot miss this opportunity. The G.22 did very well to have chosen Senator Esuene to contest in Labour Party. We gave successive governments 100 percent support yet no development in Eket. The governorship is what we want and we are solidly behind Senator Helen Esuene and her deputy for 2015”.
According to the zoning formula, it is expected that all the governorship candidates should come from Eket Senatorial while the deputies should come from Uyo Senatorial but some of the contending political parties have chosen their governorship and deputies outside the arrangement.
For instance the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) respected the zoning arrangement by choosing its governorship candidate in the person of Mr. Udom Emmanuel from Eket but in the case of deputy the PDP did not abide by the arrangement. It picked its deputy from Ikot Ekpene senatorial, the same zone as incumbent governor Akpabio.
Similarly the Accord Party (AP) has Bishop Samuel Akpan as its governorship candidate respecting the zoning but picked its deputy from Ikot Ekpene senatorial like the PDP. What this means is that Ikot Ekpene, which has produced a governor for eight years, may likely produce a deputy in quick succession if either PDP or AP wins.
The All People’s Congress (APC) has the former Secretary to the State Government, Obong Umana Okon Umana from Uyo Senatorial flying the governorship flag and his deputy; Mr. Ben Ukpong is from Eket Senatorial. The LP has Senator Esuene from Eket senatorial as its governorship candidate while Pastor David Okpon from Uyo senatorial is her deputy.
Given the above scenario, out of the four contending parties, it is only the LP that has respected the zoning arrangement to the letter by choosing its governorship candidate from Eket and deputy from Uyo.
The allegation of neglect which is another factor stirring the anger of the Eket people and may likely influence the poll is also being emphasised with the elders and people of Eket and Esit Eket Local Government Areas alleging massive neglect of their communities despite the exploitation of the huge oil resources in the area.
At the inauguration of Senator Esuene governorship campaign team at ward levels under the LP in Etebi, Esit Eket and Eket Local Government Council, the Eket people lamented that since the creation of Akwa Ibom state 27 years ago there has not been a single project the area has benefited from successive governments. They alleged that even the current dualisation of the Eket-Etinan road was a flash in the pan to deceive the Eket people as the project has since been abandoned.
Former Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Mr. Bassey Essien said, “The umbrella of PDP is torn. I challenge anyone to show me any project done by this government in Eket or Esit Eket since 2003 when I left government as Speaker.
“Instead things are shared in only two families. We are not slaves, wewere born free. I challenge anyone to show me any project. The woman Senator Helen Esuene knows what development is all about and that is why we want her. She will not abandon us. Don’t allow anyone to deceive you. In Labour Party, we have promised to put a stop to it and ensure that Eket and other parts of the state are evenly developed instead of doing a sectional thing”.
Also expressing the anger of the Eket people, a one-time senator in the Second Republic, Senator Etang Umoyo who stressed that the LP is a little beginning that will grow into a giant said “What I want to say is the truth. This government has not done well for us. There is nothing on ground for me to talk about for my people who embraced PDP, nothing. The politics we are seeing is the politics of the same family and house. We must say no to all that rubbish. Anywhere you go, campaign for Senator Esuene to be the next governor of Akwa Ibom state.”
He added, “on the zoning arrangement we stand. Since the creation of Akwa Ibom state over 27 years now there is no person of Uyo Senatorial district that is deputy governor. We are talking of equity justice and fairness, where is equity justice and fairness there? But the emergence of LP is out to correct that injustice by picking its deputy governorship candidate from Uyo senatorial in the person of Pastor David Okpon.
“Ikot Ekpene senatorial has produced Chris Ekpenyong, Michael Udofia as deputy governor. Now current governor Godswill Akpabio from Ikot Ekpene senatorial has picked another Ikot Ekpene senatorial person as deputy for Udom Emmanuel. Are they the only one?
“What I am saying is that there should be equity. Senator Esuene is exposed, educated and experienced to rule Akwa Ibom. Because she is a God-fearing Christian, cultism, kidnapping, corruption and injustice will die and things will be shared equitably to all families. With her Akwa Ibom will move forward.
Former Public Affairs Manager of Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN), Mr. Bassey Itama said, “all these people campaigning to be governor are doing so just because of the crude oil in Eket. Without the husband of Senator Helen Esuene, there would not have been Mobil in Akwa Ibom state. If you are in doubt, ask people like Chief Philip Asiodu, General Yakubu Gowon and others. Her husband insisted that Mobil should be in Eket and not Port Harcourt and that was granted eventually”.
He pointed out that the Eket Comprehensive Secondary school that was to be a University and Kwa River Hotel projects started by Brigadier Jacob Esuene, the husband of Senator Esuene have all been abandoned and “there is no project by successive government to show in Eket instead they get the benefits from oil from this area. We have to rise and fight for our right by voting in Senator Esuene. Whichever party you belong, rise and vote for Senator Esuene under LP”.
Chairman of the aggrieved PDP aspirants, the G.22 that produced Senator Esuene as their flag bearer in LP. Nsima Ekere said, “our position on the struggle is premised on the need to liberate Akwa Ibom State from the grip of tyranny and impunity. The contemptuous selection of Mr. Udom Emmanuel as the governorship candidate of the PDP is repugnant to due process and remains rejected by us now and always. It is in the overall benefit of Akwa Ibom State that we unite all democratic forces to ensure that this rejection, not only by G.22 but all right thinking Akwa Ibomites is implemented on April 11, 2015.
“Why are we struggling and why are we together? You can see that every member of G.22 wanted to be governor but right now we have come to a position that it really does not matter who is governor among us. The only thing we are saying is that Akwa Ibom people must choose for themselves who they want as governor. We are saying from now on we must say no to the impunity and whoever has the privilege to become governor of Akwa Ibom State should govern the state with the fear of God, respect for the rule of law and respect for all of us. The days of one person sitting down with his wife to force a governor on us are gone”.
But the state Commissioner of Information, Aniekan Umana maintained that there is no section of the state that is neglected by the state government.
He disclosed that the Eket-Etinan road and the mega Ibom Deep Sea port projects were on course in addition to several other projects scattered in all the nooks and crannies of Akwa Ibom and that the Godswill Akpabio administration has taken governance down to the people.
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