2023: THE GIANT ODDS OF INYANG-EYEN’S SENATORIAL AMBITION

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By Gospel Johnson

Children in the elementary schools are familiar with a lot of simple things in life. These simple things form parts of their daily class activities. While it appears they aren’t learning anything useful, they keep counting one to ten, using twigs and bottle crowns. They keep spelling one, two, three, and the rest in words. In doing so, they surely learn the little things in life.

At this tender age, their lessons are structured. Their basic subjects are English Language, Mathematics, Basic Science, Physical Education, Handwriting, and the rest. It is in the elementary Mathematics that pupils start sorting things out, a very strategic learning skill requiring tact. In sorting a group of numbers, they collate liked terms and separate others that share no semblance with the rest. For objects not similar to others in the set, they refer to them as odd items. These are where they get familiar and much attached to ‘odd’ items.

In this article therefore, this writer considers issues that share no uniformity with favourable conditions of Mr Inyang-Eyen’s high hopes. Ephraim Inyang-Eyen is the Chief of Staff to Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State. He is the immediate past commissioner for works in the state. He is from the governor’s local government area, ONNA.

Recently, Mr Ephraim Inyang-Eyen has indicated interest in running for a Senate position in 2023. He is said to have told journalists that he could contest the Senatorial seat. He noted that he will only do so “if it turns out to be the will of God”. Inyang-Eyen is said to have interacted with members of the Conference of Online Publishers Akwa Ibom State (COOPA), on the 3rd edition of their annual Democracy Day Social Media Convo on Thursday, May 27, 2021.

“I am happy with the democracy we’re practicing, but I think we can do better. Democracy at anytime is better than the command system. When you take decisions without consulting the people, there are bound to be ‘mix ups’.

“If it is the will of God that I contest election in 2023, I will contest. If it is the will of God, He will put it in the minds of my people. It is God’s plans that will work in Akwa Ibom State. Men will plan, but God will overrule”, the Chief of Staff was quoted to have said.

First, recall that the current democratic dispensation started in 1999. It is also true that Mr Inyang-Eyen is hovering his thoughts around the Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District. There are 12 local government areas in the Senatorial District and there are three Federal Constituencies in it. Truth is, 22 years on since 1999, the Senatorial District has had the most orderly rotation pattern. The reason for this is simple. The position has to go round fairly to all component parts of the district.

For a better appreciation, the three federal constituencies in the district are: Ikot Abasi Federal Constituency, Eket Federal Constituency and Oron Federal Constituency. Ikot Abasi Federal Constituency is made up of Ikot Abasi, Mkpat Enin and Eastern Obolo local government areas. Also, Eket Federal Constituency is made up of four LGAs. These are: ONNA, Eket, Esit Eket and Ibeno LGAs. In the same vein, the Oron Federal Constituency consists of five LGAs. They are: Oron, Udung Uko, Mbo, Urue Offong Oruko and Okobo LGAs.

For instance, in 1999, the first person to have clinched the ticket was Senator Udoma Udo Udoma. He was from Ikot Abasi/Eastern Obolo State Constituency of Ikot Abasi Federal Constituency. He occupied the seat for eight years between 1999 and 2007. Again in 2007, Senator Eme Ufot Ekaette from Onna State Constituency of Eket Federal Constituency clinched the ticket. She ran a single tenure ending in 2011. Another woman, Senator Helen Esuene of Eket State Constituency in Eket Federal Constituency took the ticket, running from 2011 to 2015. The batton was passed to Senator Nelson Effiong from Oron Federal Constituency whose single tenure transited in 2019 into the current one held by Senator Akon Eyakenyi still from Oron Federal Constituency.

By 2023, the current zoning circle would be completed and the next one would begin. Truth is, the seat would now move to Ikot Abasi Federal Constituency from where it started. *Specifically, it is the turn of Mkpat Enin State Constituency of that Federal Constituency to produce the next Senator for the Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District in 2023. It would not skip the people of Ikot Abasi Federal Constituency who shall have waited for 16 years and Mkpat Enin State Constituency that never enjoyed the Senatorial seat from inception, only to be favoured by those who last occupied the seat eight years back*.

Interestingly, Mr Ephraim Inyang-Eyen in the quoted speech, admitted that he is a proponent of democracy. According to him, “When you take decisions without consulting the people, there are bound to be mix ups”. This statement showcases Mr Inyang-Eyen as a passionate lover of democracy. It reveals that there would certainly be “mix ups”, if decisions are taken without the inputs of the people. Question is, would the people of the Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District accept the delay of having a person from Mkpat Enin State Constituency in Ikot Abasi Federal Constituency from emerging the next senator? Would Mr Inyang-Eyen allow the will of the people prevail according to his belief that taking actions against the people would result in a ‘mix up’?

Similarly, Mr Inyang-Eyen also made another useful statement from the cited context. He sounded like a ‘practical christian’ who would submit himself to the dictates of divine direction. According to him, “If it is the will of God that I contest election in 2023, I will contest.” By this statement, Mr Inyang-Eyen is determined to accord reference to the Creator who is all-knowing. He is possibly saying that he can only contest the Senatorial seat by God’s directives or revelation.

Meanwhile, it is common that politicians would always cover up their ambitions under God’s canopy. A person would desire to occupy a political office and would blasphem God as having revealed Himself to them. While God has no human character to have come down to smite those who slander against Him, persons would not be circumspect and would keep lying against God. They will talk about their dreams and their vision but use the name of the Lord in vain.

Obviously, God is not the author of confusion. He will not raise a man to take another’s place at this age. God will not merely choose Mr Inyang-Eyen to become a Senator of Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District. There is nothing spectacular about him that another person from Mkpat Enin State Constituency of Ikot Abasi Federal Constituency can’t achieve. If Mr Inyang-Eyen should possess the magic wand to do things differently positively, that would have surfaced when he was commissioner for works in the current government.

A works commissioner whose projects were roundly questioned by members of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Inyang-Eyen can neither have the reputation of a perfectionist nor that of a messiah. It would be a case of political gluttony to have a person from Eket Federal Constituency coming out to contest for the Senate seat in 2023.

Unfortunately though, Nigeria and indeed Africa harbours a very familiar political practice. The current governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel hails from Mr Inyang-Eyen’s LGA. He is perhaps the only person whose sense of immunity could ‘unfairly’ grant the privilege of emerging the Senator. But to his credit, Mr Udom Emmamuel knows the proper direction and has rightly taken his mind off it. The governor should be commended for getting himself out of this entanglement.

In the final analysis, judging from the quality of roads constructed by him as commissioner for works, Ephraim Inyang-Eyen represents nothing close to perfection. He cannot develop unknown traits to assume the status of a saviour. At best, his confessed belief in the tenets of democracy should completely detach him from ‘dreaming’ of that office. It is certain that the people would not accept such a defective arrangements. It cannot also be the will of God for him to become a Senator at the detriment of others. These are the giant odds that should rightly impair the contemplation that Inyang-Eyen should emerge a senator for Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District in 2023.

_Gospel Johnson is an Uyo-based political affairs analyst_

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