BEVERLY HILLS, March 29, (THEWILL) – It is common knowledge that the moment an election is concluded and a leader emergies, shopping for a successor begins even as interests starts mounting from everywhere.
Every leader wants a successor who would be his loyalist to carry on his legacies. Most times, the incumbent needs a cover up for perceived shaddy deals that if uncovered can land him in jail or brings him shame as a former governor .
2023 might be in two years but the struggle for the coveted seat had since started. While many suggest that the contest be left open to persons from all the Federal Constituencies in the senatorial district which include: Uyo federal constituency, Etinan Federal Constituency and Itu Federal Constituency, others are of the opinion that power should shift to Uyo with particular preference to Itu Federal Constituency which is made up of Itu and Ibiono Ibom local government areas.
Reason for the later agitation is that Itu Federal Constituency has been marginalized over time. No meaningful development is traceable to the area, as such they need a representative at the top office of the state to salvage their situation.
While massaging the heart of the governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel to consider the internal zoning in Uyo Senatorial District, the two LGAs are saturated with aspirants already consulting underground to appeal to the minds of the people especially confirmed delegates, political stakeholers, traditional and religious leaders.
Among those allegedly clamouring for the tenancy of the Akwa Ibom Hill Top mansion are serving commissioners in Mr. Emmanuel’s cabinet, serving National Assembly members, top business men, retired oil company workers even civil servants. These are the early birds, more are expected as the political calendar for 2023 unfolds.
Though no one has come out openly to declare for the top office, their body languages and activities are showing their intentions: pluralification of political groups, foundations, gathering disciples and regular meeting with youth groups, nocturnal meetings with stakeholers among others are prevalent in the state.
Those alleged to be eyeing their boss’ seat come 2023 include: the Commissioner for Economic Development and Ibom Deep Sea Port, Mr. Akan Okon and the Ccommissioner for Information and Strategy, Comrade Ini Ememobong. Senator Bassey Albert and Rt. Hon. Anofiok Luke are serving National Assembly members. Others are: Surveyor James Iniama, a business mogul, Mr. Udom Inoyo, a retired management staff of ExxonMobil.
Though the sitting governor who still has over two years to sit on the throne has always said that he has no successor in view as it was too early to talk about 2023, it was first rumoured that he had penciled down Mr. Udom Inoyo to succeed him. As it is almost normal in political succession, the pendulum is swinging in favour of Mr. James Iniama from Itu Local Government Area.
Mr. James Iniama had contested the 2007 governorship election in the state on the platform of ANPP and lost to the former governor Godswill Akpabio but challenged the victory and finally rested the case when he lost at the Appeal Court in Calabar. He left the scene for almost 10 years, according to him; for safety, but came back two years ago to reclaim his membership of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP).
THEWILL authoritatively reports that Mr. James Iniama, who is the Chief Executive Officer, James Iniama Consult is pulling so much weight in Akwa Ibom as it has to do with taking over from Udom Emmanuel in 2023. He is putting up a massive structure in Ewet Housing Estate even as so many interest groups gather at the mansion which is still under construction daily to declare solidarity. Even elders and some stakeholers from other federal constituencies and Senatorial District have declared support for his ambition even when he is yet to declair his intention publicly as the political timetable would not permit such for now.
Still on the agitation to produce the next governor from Itu Federal Constituency, a socio-political group under the aegis Eastern Ibibio People Association, had appealed for the support of the Ntisong Ibibio, the leader of Ibibio nation in Akwa Ibom State, Obong Essien Ekidem, for Itu /Ibiono Ibom federal constituency to produce the next governor of Akwa Ibom state come 2023.
Members of the association paid advocacy visit to the Ntisong Ibibio 111 and his council in his palace. The leader of the group, Mr. Eteyen Archibong, lamented that the people of Eastern Ibibio comprising of four local government areas in Ikot Ekpene and Uyo senatorial districts, Ibiono Ibom, Ikono, Ini and Itu have over the years been marginalised by successive administrations in the state in terms of sensitive political appointments and siting of development projects.
He reasoned that the time was ripe for Itu /Ibiono Ibom federal constituency to be supported to produce the next governor of the state in 2023, as power returns to Uyo senatorial district.
He explained that two federal constituencies in Uyo senatorial district, Uyo and Etinan federal constituencies have had the privilege of producing democratically elected governors in different democratic dispensations and for fairness, equity and justice, it is expedient for Itu/ Ibiono Ibom federal constituency in Uyo senatorial district to take a shot at the top job of the governor.
“Fairness, equity and justice demand that the two other federal constituencies of Uyo and Etinan having had the privilege to occupy the governorship seats at different times, that Itu/ Ibiono Ibom federal constituency be supported to produce the next governor of Akwa Ibom state in 2023”,
“That is why we decided to come to you and members of your council today to solicit your support as fathers and elders of Ibibio land”.
He lamented that the area has not produced a deputy governor or a minister since the dawn of the present political dispensation.
“Your majesty, it might interest you to know that the people of Eastern Ibibio have never produced a deputy governor, a federal minister, not to talk of producing a governor. We are not coming for war; all we want is to seek for your intervention and support to use your position to talk to the people of Uyo and Etinan federal constituencies to support their brothers from Itu/Ibiono Ibom federal constituency in the 2023 governorship position. This will bring fairness and unity to all zones in Ibibio nation”, he said.
He added that in the spirit of political inclusiveness which is a cardinal point in the development agenda, it was natural for other zones to support the governorship aspiration of the Eastern Ibibio people.
He alleged that, Ikono/Ini federal constituency was one of the areas in the state with the highest number of bad roads in the state.
“Today, Ukana in Essien Udim Local Government Area is a developed town courtesy of the former Governor Godswill Akpabio. Awa of yesterday is a developed town with modern infrastructures courtesy of the present governor, His Excellency Governor Udom Emmanuel. We need such infrastructural development in Eastern Ibibio nation. This will be made possible through your support for our struggle to the governorship position in 2023″.
Obong Ekidem commended the maturity of the association in the presentation of their case and charged them to maintain and sustain the tempo.
The patriarch stressed that the stool was not partisan, and would continue to remain politically neutral, but that members of the council were not barred from expressing their views on the political and economic development of the Ibibios in particular and Akwa Ibom state in general.
The Ntisong opined that the 2023 governorship election was capable of addressing perceived cases of marginalization and political exclusion if the political class would subject themselves to the wise counsel of the elders.
He mentioned that the next governor of the state should be that person that would adopt a holistic approach to the development challenges facing the people of Akwa Ibom State, adding that such a person must be accessible, reliable, and acceptable by the generality of the people.
He urged the political class to always consult with the traditional institution on issues of power sharing and resources allocation in order to accentuate political inclusion. He advised them against any form of violent agitation, even as he reminded them that power comes from God.
Two years is still a long time and anything can still happen as 24 hours according to political observers and analysts is regarded as a long time in politics.