Governor Emmanuel, his anointed & the rest of us
It is no longer news that on January 30th the Akwa Ibom state Governor, Udom Emmanuel introduced publicly to his audience at the government house the man he has anointed to be his successor. Since that announcement huge reactions have trailed the Governor’s action. The disquiet, uproar and avalanche of his disapproval that followed across the political spectrum and entire landscape has been unprecedented and has become clear to the governor’s camp that it was a wrong move. The governor’s action has rocked not just his party the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) but also the entire state. The questions that then come to mind is, why has it become a common thing for sitting governors to handpick or attempt to handpick their successors? Why do they try to impose on the people?
Where is the democracy in that?
In 2007 when Obong Victor Attah attempted to foist his son in-law Bob Ekarika on the people in 2006, he met stiff opposition. He did not have his way and eventually, Godswill Akpabio secured the ticket for the PDP. History has taught us that this idea should never have been adopted and carried out by Governor Emmanuel when an assessment of such moves in the past across the length and breadth of this country is made. That it worked when he Emmanuel was anointed by the then Governor Godswill Akpabio does not make it a virtue.
It worked because everyone accepted that the cause Akpabio was fighting for was a good one. He however did not have it easy with Senator Obong Bassey Albert popularly known as OBA who was then also vying for the same position. Akpabio’s aim in my view was mainly to ensure that there was fair play, justice, and equity across all 3 senatorial districts.
He pushed and fought hard to put in place some form of rotational policy and inclusiveness for all 3 senatorial districts to have a feel of the governorship position which was the reason Udom who hails from the Eket Senatorial District the only area that had not yet produced a governor since 1999 was being sold to the people in the first place. Obong Albert at the time was persuaded to step down for Emmanuel while he Albert will take the senate ticket for Uyo Senatorial District which he obliged after much consideration. It is for that singular reason that Emmanuel was able to clinch the PDP’s ticket thereby completing the cycle after Obong Attah and Godswill Akpabio.
Although other contenders are yet to declare their intentions, statements have been made from different camps regarding Emmanuel’s announcement. Some of those that will throw their hats in the ring are Mr. Akan Udofia, Senator Obong Bassey Albert, Rt. Honourable Onofiok Luke to name a few. These men bring a bundle of virtues to the table and have amassed experience over the years in corporate Nigeria, business, and politics. Who says that these men cannot be better managers of the people and resources? The truth is that Emmanuel’s announcement will not deter other aspirants from coming out of the woodwork.
Since that infamous decision of the Governor to conduct that anointing service, I have met with and constantly been on the phone with several people in the PDP and across the state trying to get a sense of the situation on ground. Sincerely the information coming out from within PDP family and the public at large is not a good one and the main opposition party the All Progressive Congress (APC) are licking their lips as they can smell blood.
As things stand today, the governors’ anointed is not an acceptable product and he knows it. They equally know in the governor’s camp that a lot of image laundering and public relations work must be done to change the perception of the people and make him a marketable and acceptable product.
The PDP leadership at the national level must be interested in the events playing out in Akwa Ibom state and must take a keen look at the situation. They have their job cut out for them and they must be extremely careful. They must ensure a level playing field for all interested aspirants. Dancing to the tune of the governor and manipulating the process to give his choice candidate the ticket will backfire badly, and I am sure they don’t want that. The party primaries that will be conducted by the party sometime this year must be free, fair, and credible. Not just that, it must be seen to be free, seen to be fair and seen to be credible by all. The days, weeks and months ahead will be quite revealing and interesting.
Fingers crossed and ears close to the ground. As these gentlemen and possibly women jostle for the PDP’s ticket, the rest of us will be watching closely with keen interest from the sidelines and hopefully they present us with the best man. In the end this is politics, and it is all about the interest of the players and supporters alike.
May God bless Akwa Ibom state.