The question of where the next Governor of Akwa Ibom State, and the
successor of Chief Godswill Akpabio in 2015 would come from has
dominated political discourse in recent times. Expectedly, many
commentators and interest groups have joined the fray to push their
positions through. That is how it should be. Democracy allows for
debates and plurality of opinions.
The disappointment however is that partisan groups have left the
substance to focus on the mundane. Instead of emphasis on the intrinsic
qualities of the next Governor and what he would have to offer, we are
being assailed by where he should come from. For most people, such
considerations would amount to sacrificing merit on the altar of mediocrity
and this should be strongly discouraged.
For instance in a recent press release, a group which goes by the name:
“Eket Senatorial District Forum”, stood history on the head through
revisionism by attempting to justify (albeit unsuccessfully) why the next
governorship contest in Akwa Ibom State should be the exclusive
preserve of only aspirants from Eket Senatorial District.
In the release titled: “Why Eket Senatorial District Must Produce Akwa
Ibom Governor in 2015”, the nebulous group went to great length to distort
facts and our recent history and seeking to foist its retrogressive position
on the rest of the state. The fulcrum of its argument is that “zoning of the
office of the Governor has always been part of our political life in Akwa
Ibom State,” as if they were all suffering from selective amnesia.
It has already been established before now that at no time since the
inception of this democratic dispensation has the position of the
governorship of the state been exclusively zoned to any senatorial
district. Otherwise the modern day advocates of zoning in Akwa Ibom
State would be hard put to explain why the present Deputy Governor of
Akwa Ibom State, Obong Nsima Ekere, a distinguished son of Eket
Senatorial District had contested against Chief Godswill Akpabio for the
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ticket in 2006.
The position of the Eket Senatorial District Forum, absurd as it is, would
be like changing the goal post in the middle of a football game. This is
because, never in the history of electioneering in Akwa Ibom State had
persons from any particular senatorial district been barred from contesting
for the governorship position, while in the same token donated as a trophy
One may be inclined to ask: where were members of Eket Senatorial
District Forum when their sons, in exercise of their democratic right,
contested the governorship of the state against aspirants from other
senatorial districts? Or, are they telling us that if for instance, any of their
sons (and they were many) had won the PDP primaries in 2006 against
Chief Akpabio, they would have annulled the election and dashed the
ticket to someone from Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District because it was
not their turn?
The members of Eket Senatorial District Forum and other such groups
agitating for the unconstitutional and undemocratic barring of aspirants
from other senatorial districts should listen to the wise counsel of one of
their own and a distinguished son of the zone with strong democratic
credentials, Mr Larry Esin.
In a recent post in his facebook wall, Mr Esin said: “The question of our
role in the governance of our State in 2015, a responsibility we welcome
with open arms, will occupy and engage our thoughts and actions for the
next three years. And rightfully so! But let us not be consumed, blinded
and misled by the fledgling believe that it is “our turn” now. It has always
been our turn. For as long as we have been a part of Akwa Ibom State, it
has always been our turn and responsibility to vie for any political office
and offer solutions to meet the development challenges of our State.The
Ibibio’s, Anangs, Ekid’s, and all other ethnic groups will express their
fundamental right to serve their State in 2015, and we cannot fault them
for doing so. Oro will win the governorship not by evoking “Zoning“, but by
presenting the best marketable Oro candidate in the race and giving
100% of our support to that candidate period”.
Mr Esin should know better and he cannot be faulted for having this
democratic disposition and not joining in undemocratic agitations even
when he may be a beneficiary. In 2006 Mr Esin (as already noted, from
Eket Senatorial District) had a shot at the governorship in the state and
indeed put up a credible performance by coming third in the PDP
primaries which Chief Godswill Akpabio won. In the 2011 governorship
election in Akwa Ibom State, he was the candidate of the Congress for
Progressive Change (CPC).
In none of these instances had the Eket Senatorial District Forum been
on record as having asked aspirants from their zone not to contest
against a candidate from Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District. In any case, as
it has always been the case, there were candidates also from Uyo
Senatorial District because electoral contests in Akwa Ibom State have
always been open for all. It therefore smacks of political mischief for the
Eket Forum to suddenly wake up from a deep slumber and attempt to
rewrite the political history of Akwa Ibom State through crude revisionism.
The interest of most progressive Akwa Ibom people is not where the next
Governor will come from but what he would be bringing to the table. There
is no doubt that Governor Godswill Akpabio has greatly transformed the
state from a largely pedestrian civil service state to a destination of
choice in Nigeria through the provision of world class infrastructural
facilities. The people desire a Governor who would take the state to the
Let me concede that it is the democratic right of people of Eket
Senatorial District to vie for the Governorship of the state, just as it is the
right of any other Akwa Ibomite, as guaranteed in the constitution. In the
process, they have to put their best materials forward, and there are
many of them. The campaign on who will govern Akwa Ibom State in 2015
should be hinged on the agenda of the aspirants and not their ethnicity.
Any aspirant who is sure of what he has to offer would not be afraid to
compete with others. Rather than dissipate their energy on zoning and
attempting to rewrite our recent political history, those agitating for the so-
called zoning should channel such energy towards producing a
marketable candidate that can hold his own. Seeking to close the
democratic space even before the election could only foist a mediocre on
a State with many intelligent people.
Many people desire a Governor in the mould of Chief Akpabio who will
approach governance with a liberal disposition in appointments and
execution of projects, a Governor whose constituency would be Akwa
Ibom State and not his Senatorial District alone. The campaign by Eket
Senatorial District Forum is suspicious and has the potential in alienating
a large segment of Akwa Ibom people. It gives the unfortunate impression
that whoever should emerge from such an undemocratic process of
shutting the democratic space would come with a baggage and an ethnic
agenda to execute.
Mr Mboho, a Public Affairs Analyst writes from Uyo.
By Ini-Abasi Mboho.