The 2015 general elections was an interesting outing for the people of Akwa Ibom State. It was a year in which a taste of popularity was easily perceived among the electorates. If not for what was witnessed as a wide spread form practical irregularities, one would say that certain people deserve to be respected, if not for their doggedness, then for their willingness to make their marks in the political space of the state.
Then, Obong Nsima Ekere and 21 others were clearly denied access to fair play and a common ground of operation. There were conscious efforts to get them out of space. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was standing firm, ready to through its dice on the ground. But very decisive steps were taken to make sure that superior interest within the party was protected.
Nsima Ekere has been one of the loudest voices in the politics of this state. After he resigned his position as the deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State, he went about in his business, not seeking troubles from anyone and giving none to none.
But the electioneering of that year 2015 really proved to everyone that though Ekere was silent all through the years, he was, perhaps painstakingly working towards taking over the governance of the state through an act of election. This could be seen in the capacity he demonstrated with the vast followership he won to himself. His campaign ground at Edet Akpan Avenue, Uyo also attests to this.
But very unfortunately, no effort by anyone who was not ‘anointed’ in PDP saw the light of the day. What was called impunity assumed an accelerated crescendo. The ‘rejected’ regrouped into what was called G22 and made a head way to Abuja. They stayed in the wildernesses of Abuja for a symbolic duration of 40 days and 40 nights. But our then President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was said to have been too busy to at least, listen to them. They returned in fury and the area became very bubbling, as the “never again Massada” became a popular mantra.
Most of them may have joined forces with the then governorship flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Obong Umana Umana. But the scenario was like an acid that can’t be reduced from concentration. PDP “won” the (s)election in the state; but, Jonathan was sent packing from the Aso Rock. He left like an orphan and that reminded me of a spiritually charged piece of article which I read in 2013, entitled, “More than Just Goodluck”. That story captured what was viewed as ineptitude by the Jonathan administration and his inability to take certain decisions. It opined that the then president who was hitherto seen as practically being naturally blessed by ‘good luck’, especially in his political life, would require “more than just good luck” to win election as Nigeria’s President in 2015. Of course, that prophetic proclamation came to pass, but that’s not our point today.
After the institution of the national leadership led by the presently ailing President Muhammadu Buhari, Nsima Ekere, Obong Umana Umana, Senator Ita Enang and the rest slipped into national politics. At the end, all these men gained relevance and were recognized by the President for sensitively juicy appointments. Today, Ekere prides himself as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
This is just less than a two year mission. Nsima Ekere will be expected to leave positive imprints in the commission’s book of records, as someone whose zeal, experience and vast pool of intellectual resource should clearly distinguish from others. Here on this saddle, issues of blackmail, especially from the ruling party in his home state, has really unsettled him. But he is focused and deeply passionate about executing his primary responsibilities. That’s why he continues to harp on the issue of governance whenever people seem to flutter him with the temptation of making a pronouncement, as touching his interest in the fast approaching 2019 general elections.
For his achievements so far in life, his people have gathered to receive him. This has been accompanied by a Thanksgiving service in which the Church also prays and blesses the gentleman and his family.
In his remarks at the reception ground in Ikot Abasi last Saturday, Mr. Nsima Ekere pleaded with indigenes of Niger Delta States to be hospitable with contractors handling projects in their locality and by extension, Akwa Ibom State, so as to help in even development of the areas.
While pledging the readiness of the commission to take up and complete all abandoned projects in the Niger Delta, he promised that the bridge at Akpan Ikpe in his home local government which was abandoned over a decade would soon be constructed with an up-to-date design. He equally announced that Edemeya will be entitled to three additional roads and urged the natives to be hospitable and friendly with contractors.
Meanwhile, the Chairman Edemeya Clan Council of Chiefs, Eteidung Eniema Eshiet, in consent with the entirety of village heads of the clan, bestowed the chieftaincy title of Obong Unwana Edemeya (Lord of Light to Edemaya people) on the Managing Director of NDDC, while the Managing Director of Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA), Obong Umana Okon Umana was honoured with Obong Ufan Edemeya by the clan council.
In his goodwill message, MD, OGFZA, Obong Umana Umana applauded the Managing Director of NDDC, Mr. Nsima Ekere for the strides he has made in the commission within few months in office and portrayed him as a national icon who has made his marks and paid his dues.
He stressed that Mr. Ekere has led the commission in accordance with the core mandates of the commission emphasizing that within three months in office, road constructions were seen everywhere in Akwa Ibom State. Umana noted that, judging from the tract records of the NDDC MD, he was optimistic that Ekere will make a difference.
Others who spoke at the event included Prof Etok Ekanem, a representative of ONE for CHANGE, Rt. Hon. Ekperikpe Ekpo, Professor Chris Ekong, Dr. Ndehe Esitikot while symbolic presentations were made to the MD of NDDC by sociopolitical groups, Village head of Utu Ikot Ekpenyong in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area among others.
Consequently, it is no more news that as it was in the days of the last general elections, defection chants are ringing both by the right and by the left. People are said to be transferring their membership from one party to the other. All these could be understood as being connected to the interest that they have attached to their new party.
But let me observe that while people seem to be moving into new parties, the Nsima Ekere and his APC should be vigilant of two things. First, it seems to me that some of these new intakes are coming as spies. Secondly, it overwhelmingly strikes me that some people who appear to be finding romance with the APC in Akwa Ibom State are simply defecting into NDDC. This is because of the juicy contracts that are spread over Ekere’s table.
Having said that, I recall that on the 10th of this month, July, the Ibibio Nation gathered at Assan Ibibio for a grand reception of the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel and his wife, Martha. They were there to honour the Governor who has achieved so much, both as an accomplished banker and as a Governor. One would not forget that by May, he was said to lead the first 10 Governors of the country in terms of performance. Joseph Atainyang was not part of the assessment. But what can be reported is that the Governor was so adjudge. So, his people should not be disant from that recognition.
One thing that was conspicuous in the reception was the fact that Obong Victor Attah was not in Assan Ibibio. A genuine presentation, in all right thinking should have been performed by former Governor Attah whom Ibibio people in the same venue in 2014 made the leader of Ibibio Nation. But no, he was not there. One could then infere, perhaps, that the event did not get Attah’s approval. But those who were there moved motions and endorsed Governor Udom Emmanuel for a second term. That political undertone would not be tolerated by Victor Attah, had he attended the ceremony.
Similarly, the former Governor, Attah was clearly seen in Ekere’s event. What his presence means, this writer may not wish to presume. But very importantly, Ekere was not endorsed for 2019 governorship. It is however this writer’s opinion that if such was done, it would have deflated the reasonable grounds for its arrangement.
Again, “One for Change” was a well recognized sociopolitical group which made a presentation during Ekere’s reception. It did so through Prof. Etok Ekanem who is recently allegedly described in some quarters as a schema, instead of the founder of the group, Hon. Samuel Efanga. Let me point out that this is the only group that had received Nsima Ekere after his appointment as the NDDC’s MD. The event held at Samuel Efanga’s residence in Uyo.
Succinctly, one would decide to think of what could have so quickly disrupted the relationship between Efanga and Ekere. Is it that he was blackmailed before the latter? Is that what politics should be all about? What has been paraded in the media is that Nsima Ekere has sacked Samuel Efanga. The question then is, is it so simple to disintegrate people? Has Ekere tried to sort it out with Efanga before sacking him as reported? What then should politics be all about? Should it be all about blackmail and sabotage?
While it is still unclear that Nsima Ekere will contest elections in 2019 into the office of the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, one believes that politicians must always be smart enough not to allow gluttons to spoil things for them. Our politicians are learned. So, there should be better ways of playing politics.
Joseph Atainyang is a journalist and public affairs commentator, writes from Ubodung in Urue Offong/Oruko LGA of Akwa Ibom State. Gsm: 07036964637
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