The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is now being administered by a man whose nickname is Loyalty. His leadership of the party begun a few weeks back, after a large party congress which validated his long days of appointment as the anointed one. Amidst pomp and jubilation, Hon. Udo Ekpenyong left his place as the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and resumed duty as the Akwa Ibom State Chairman of the PDP. Many believe that the party has entered into another phase of life as Mr Loyalty is himself the Chief Pilot. This is why they view the party as having been faced with the tall mandate of living up to its expectations.
In deed, Mr Loyalty has ignited the Party’s engine. Full evidence have begun coming to the fore to show what template Mr Loyalty would be adopting in his leadership style. While many are quick to assert that Mr Udo Ekpenyong is not a type who will compromise the interest of Governor Udom Emmanuel who is the leader of the party in the state, some persons have observed that initial developments in the party, with regards to the local government elections, do not portray the chairman as setting in for anything good. The subject of discourse is the buildup to the local government elections in the state. The List of Chairmanship and Councillorship aspirants said to have been cleared by the party, give room for worries. The way and manner viable, credible and solid contenders are screened out of the approved list gives room for questions.
Across the 31 local government areas of Akwa Ibom State, issues of excluded aspirants from list of cleared ones dominate discussion on the media space. That of Eastern Obolo LGA which comes with open protest is a case of its own. While many are wondering what criteria the party had used to screen their aspirants, others are perplexed at the level of impunity perpetrated by the party. In Oron Federal Constituency for instance, all credible and energetic contenders have been severed out of the list.
Many of these are said to have been influenced by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem. The same Ekuwem had severally been called out for attempting to impose unpopular aspirants on stakeholders of the party in some LGAs. In Mbo LGA for instance, it was only the sitting Chairman, Hon. Asukwo Eyo that was cleared. The development has left more questions on the integrity of Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem.
A number of factors are supposed to have informed the direction of the party in taking certain steps towards achieving a peaceful conduct of its primaries. These factors are zoning, the purported disapproval against cultism, the disapproval against oath taking, and perhaps the direction on female candidacy. First, while some aspirants who purchased the Chairmanship forms were not favoured by zoning, a few of them were actually energized by zoning to join the race. These persons were Barr (Mrs) Mmakim Antai, Hon. Mfon Bassey, Mr Emmanuel Inyang and Mr Ita Okon. On whether the SSG could actually have been ‘compelled’ by circumstances to garner support for an aspirant with plausible inclinations to cultism is a topic for another day. Also, whether Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem could have been pressurized by insurmountable and very uncomfortable circumstances to support aspirants who have administered oath to party men, is not of interest to this piece. And, whether it is possible for the learned elite to have shifted his principles just to reach common grounds with nonperforming council chairman, cannot also be given prominence here.
While others may not be bold enough to question the party’s clearing criteria, Barr Mmakim Antai who is the only female contender has approached the Appeal Panel in accordance to the required steps toward correcting possible mishaps. She has presented herself before the committee, showing evidence of her painstaking adherence to all required guidelines. Indeed, while the party is certain that it cannot wage war against itself by indulging in perplexed standpoints that could discredit its overall screening process, more questions are still on the libs of many as to why some sitting chairmen were cleared but others not.
Before commenting on the loyalty of Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem, one would dare to inquire what the actual direction is, as far as female candidacy in Oron Federal Constituency is concerned. This writer has it in good authority that Governor Udom Emmanuel, having largely been briefed that Okobo, Urue Offong Oruko and Udung Uko had produced female council chairmen, each lasting not less than three years in approximation, did say that he wanted a female council chairperson in either of Oron or Mbo LGAs. The meeting had the presence of the SSG, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem, the distinguished Senator, Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District, Dr Akon Eyakenyi, the Commissioner for Transportation and Solid Minerals, Mr Uno Etim Uno, among others.
Sources revealed that Senator Eyakenyi had immediately told the Governor that there was no female aspirant in Oron LGA and that she had already nominated an aspirant for the position. Unfortunately, the revered Secretary to the Government was said to have remained taciturn. Accordingly, none would be so benighted to flush the logic behind the silence. There shouldn’t be any ambiguity in the clear understanding of Dr Ekuwem’s silence. Obviously, such silence would amount to a complete acceptance and possible conclusion on that position.
In all these however, the major question begging for answer is whether Emmanuel Ekuwem’s loyalty is anything to be trusted. Loyalty, they say is the deciding factor on whether a person is a true party man. Hence, should we believe there exist an interest beyond common knowledge which the SSG protects? If the hand writing on the wall is clear as it were, why should a loyal party man attempt to shift grounds? If Mbo has the nod of Governor Udom Emmanuel to produce a female chairperson, why is Dr Ekuwem leading unknown forces to impose rejected chairpersons on the Oron people? Are there unknown pressures sternly mounting on our respected statesman that seem to unsettle his rationale?
Worried by these stunning revelations, one becomes inexcusably convinced that whatever had the potent powers to influence the SSG to attempt distorting a clear handwriting must be more than ordinary. Fully aware that Dr Ekuwem is supposed to be loyal to the directives of the party’s leadership, one is dumbstruck that strange interests may have swallowed him. But to be sure, what could this strange interest be? On this note, while plenty of persons still believe in the principled character of Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem, it is indeed pertinent to remember that with the emergence of Mr Loyalty as the Chairman of the party, all members, especially the leaders should be more circumspect in leading exemplary life. Hence, one is compelled to ask whether Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem is of questionable loyalty to the leadership of the party.
Joseph Atainyang is a journalist and public affairs commentator. GSM: 07036964637