It is obvious that dubious elements have joined the race, parading themselves as chairmanship aspirants in the forthcoming local government elections in the state. The struggle is being contested by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against itself. It seems the only elections in recent times where the ruling party is also the opposition party. This happens as the state’s main opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) officially declares its non participation in the exercise. While it should become simpler for the PDP to fill consensus candidates in all the 31 LGAs, the exact opposite appears to be the case.
Greedy elements have decided to pollute the atmosphere with their aspirations. All of them have gone ahead and purchased the nomination forms. They are ready to stand elections, certainly not because they are sure of winning the tickets. While some are in the race to impair the rational sense of choice of prospective party delegates, some are there to ask for negotiations. While some are certainly sponsored by other politicians, some are only in the race to frustrate the chances of preferred aspirants from emerging.
In Urue Offong Oruko local government area for instance, eight people have purchased the nomination form. Among these are the incumbent Chairman, Hon. Umana Efombruh, Surv John Isangedighi, Mr. Chris Ante, Mr Eno Abia-Bassey and Col. Edet Sampson rtd. Others are Mrs Precious Selong, Mr. Edet Isong Ukpong and Mr Tony Nduonyi. Some of them have enunciated their blue prints and have told the people what their visions are. Most particularly, these aspirants have shown stiff reliance on their support base and are confident that they would come out victorious. The assurance has continued to energize them and given them hope for a possible actualization of their dreams.
Obviously, stakeholders in the LGA have done a lot in making sure the issue of contention is handled with maturity. In a recent stakeholders’ meeting convened by the Chapter Chairman of the party, Mr. Okpo Edeke, the issue of alleged fetish oath reportedly administered by a sitting House of Assembly Member, Rt. Hon. Asukwo Archibong was on the table. The story was told of how he allegedly administered fetish oath to six ward chairmen in the area. Although the subject was said to have been waved, after some attempts of denial, stakeholders stressed that oath taking should never be heard of in the entire process.
The meeting which ended with a call for a screening committee to interface with aspirants and come up with possible suggestions, forbade all forms of fetish practices among the contenders. The report published after the stakeholders’ meeting stated that only aspirants favoured by zoning should go ahead to secure the nomination form. It also mentioned that a screening committee made up of Prof. Emmanuel Onwioduokit as Chairman, Prof. Peter Esuh, Engr Effiong Essang and others as members, should interface with the aspirants and report back. Accordingly, the development was supposed to make it easier for stakeholders and delegates to freely choose a party candidate for the chairmanship election.
Unfortunately, the Screening Committee’s report was not presented at the next stakeholders’ meeting. Reports have it that the House Member, Rt. Hon. Asukwo Archibong had threatened to tear the report in the hands of Prof. Emmanuel Onwioduokit. The stakeholders meeting held in Venus Hotels, Shelter Afrique on Tuesday, August 11, 2020, was attended by all stakeholders in the area. But a motion duly support by five of the seven aspirants in attendance, to the effect that the report be read during the meeting, could not be achieved. The sad development occurred because Asukwo Archibong vehemently opposed the report of the committee, saying he had no confidence in a committee which had duly been constituted by the former Deputy Governor, His Excellency, Amb Etim Okpoyo.
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that the report of the screening committee is before Amb Etim Okpoyo for further action. The revelation is that apart Mrs Precious Selong and Mr Edet Isong Ukpong, all other aspirants who purchased their forms had appeared before the committee. But how does one deal with a situation where the house member campaigns for an aspirant, but in turn does everything within his reach to oppose genuine activies of the stakeholders?
Already, the rumour that Governor Udom Emmanuel and his wife had anointed Mrs Precious Selong for the post is dying off. The flagrant display of impunity and insolence where the state house member was said to have insulted the former Deputy Governor, has added salt to the injury. The resistance by stakeholders amplifies their resolute decision to do the right thing. Of course, it is no more news that the attempt by the Secretary to the Government of Akwa Ibom State, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem to impose Precious Selong on the LGA has been dismissed.
The outcome of the midnight meeting in which stakeholders were deceived that the governor was going to be present, has punctured their projections. Amb Okpoyo and other stakeholders were said to have bluntly told the SSG that Barr Mmakim Essang of his Mbo LGA has a better political background and personal discipline to represent Oron Federal Constituency as a female chairperson. It was indeed a huge frustration.
Apparently, one can admit that the chairmanship post has been fiercely contested in Urue Offong Oruko LGA. The male contenders are a feature of men of impeccable character. One believes that it may come to a time when the report of the screening committee could be implemented. In this situation, Precious Selong being the only female in the race, and having been rejected by the stakeholders, would easily be fizzled out. Her misfortune could even be aggravated by her refusal to appear before the screening committee. This clearly shows that only the male candidates would remain on the line. On this note, one would be safe to suggest that now that the coast is clear, and in the face of further complexity in the nomination process, the stakeholders, who are tested men of proven integrity, should adopt the report of the screening committee and perhaps the Uruan LGA selection template.
Joseph Atainyang is a journalist and public affairs commentator. GSM: 07036964637