Battle for Akwa Ibom Hilltop Mansion

March 9 and the Tussle for the Akwa Ibom Hilltop Mansion


Priscilla Christopher

In few days, the much-anticipated governorship election will take place across the federation. Citizens all over will authenticate their pledges to vote for respective party candidates and the 2019 elections will come to a wrap.

Technically, this will close the presently dismantled doors of political discourses, blind arguments, hasty generalizations, hate speeches, vulgar remarks, derogatory comments, defamations, graffiti and demeaning graphic representations of public office holders on the media of communication especially, the social media.

Although elections haven’t been devoid of the above-mentioned vices, that of 2019 will remain indelible in the minds of Nigerians as one which recorded the highest abuse of offices, individuals and intentions on social media, taking for advantage its cheapness, ubiquity, simplicity and instantaneity.

In Akwa Ibom State alone, one cannot measure or quantify the amount of false information, perceptions and blatant innuendos spewed across social media platforms for and against public office holders, political parties, candidates and their families, in the name of demeriting and marketing hence, for those in my thought; we can’t wait to see this phase swept off.

Like we know (courtesy of our social media “activists”), the major contenders for the Akwa Ibom Hilltop Mansion are the sitting Governor, Udom Gabriel Emmanuel (Only God) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the immediate past Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Nsima Ekere (One God) of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The tussle for leadership among the duo dates back to the day the reins of power in the state was shaken. On this day, the former Governor of the State and Udom’s political godfather, Senator Godswill Akpabio stunned Akwa Ibomites and Nigerians at large by defecting from his “own” root party – PDP, to join the APC.

This “mother of all defections” heralded the beginning of the popularly acclaimed “warsaw” in the state which saw the former Governor Akpabio threatening to send Udom packing out of the Hilltop Mansion via every means within his reach.

By virtue of Akpabio’s popularity, goodwill and pull, he was able to magnet to his new party and strengthen the guts of Senator Ita Enang, Ekerete Ekpenyong, Bassey Etim (Bafil), Idongesit Ituen, Kufreabasi Etuk, John Akpan Udoedehe, Umana Umana, Michael James, Nse Ntuen, Don Etim, Retired Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ekpoudom; Senator Nelson Effiong, Victor Antai, Ita Awak, Effiong Johnson and a host of others, who in turn birthed disciples spread across the length and breadth of Akwa Ibom.

It thus became a wow news in no time, that Akwa Ibom State, a hitherto PDP state has become an APC state.

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Subsequently, Udom Emmanuel whom former Governor Akpabio proclaimed right 4 years ago, became wrong. So, whenever the APC met for their campaigns, Akpabio led the crowd in singing Udom’s imminent defeat and onward movement out of the government house.

At present, the one who has found favour in Akpabio’s sight is the former NDDC boss, Nsima Ekere who doubles as the former Deputy Governor of the state.

Upon Akpabio’s defection to the APC, Ekere’s governorship ambition gained flesh. Resentments among his contenders – John Udoedehe, former NDDC MD, Bassey Dan-Abia, and Edet Effretuei, a business man – were buried, to make a picture of a house in order.

But even the APC know that from top to bottom, they are far from being in order. Especially with the presence of a giant like Senator Akpabio whose moves and intentions are known to himself alone and God.

Perhaps the APC should look at this closely: if Akpabio so loved Nsima Ekere, why did he change him as Deputy Governor back then? Or why did he oppose Ekere’s initial governorship ambition in 2015? Recall that Nsima Ekere left the PDP to join Umana Okon Umana who also left the PDP for the APC in his quest to win the 2015 governorship election in Akwa Ibom State from Akpabio’s PDP.

With these unfoldings, it is safe to say that the combinations of the APC frontiers are a group of…individuals fooling each other. Else, how can a party inhabiting a group of power-hungry people salivating for the same position convince us that all is well within them?  

For Governor Udom Emmanuel, the battle to return to the Hiltop Mansion has been described in several quarters as being more spiritual than physical, not for himself but for the future of Akwa Ibom people.

For one who had no inkling of what the murky waters of Akwa Ibom politics looked prior to 2013, the departure of his “Grand master” from his side ‘just like that’ has no doubt stretched him but there are chances that he stands better chances at the March 9 polls. Not because he needs it but, because he deserves it. And as it is with President Buhari, it is no mean feat to unseat a sitting Leader who is performing aggregately well.

Urging the Governor on are Obong Bassey Albert (OBA), Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Onofiok Luke; Paul Ekpo, Kenneth Okon, Akan Okon, Iniobong Ememobong, Akon Inyangeyen, Orman Esin, Ekong Sampson, Usoro Akpanusoh, Nse Essien, Chris Ekpenyong, Emmanuel Enoidem, Prince Akpabio, Okpulum Ette, Patrick Ifon, Emmanuel Ukpong, Felicia Bassey and others who have as well birthed disciples across the length and breadth of the state. 

But beyond Nsima Ekere and Udom Emmanuel are their unstable, confused and backstabbing supporters who do not give a damn about the outcome of the election. Their only care is what to eat. As much as I know, the same crowd who congregate at APC rallies assemble at PDP rallies in coats of many colours. And the same people you’d swear will vote the PDP at the elections are the ones who’ll vote the APC, and vice-versa.

Akwa Ibomites only follow the Money-Carrying Party (MCP). It doesn’t matter who has a better economic plan. Those who feign love for politicians by countering and counter-countering claims on social media do so because they are paid. That is the sad reality! However, all of these will end in no time.

So, come Saturday, March 9, the electorates will again manifest their true wishes for the future of the state.  We can only hope that, that wish will bring about sustained peace and development promised by the contesting candidates.