Whether or not some opposition political parties in Akwa Ibom State overtly or covertly withdrew from the just concluded Local Government Election primaries, it is to the credit of Governor Udom Emanuel that the primaries were held after all, with resounding success in an atmosphere of peace.
Among other things, irrespective of wishes and dreams which may not have materialized which is an intrinsic element of politics and democracy, the ease, concessions and outcomes that characterized the exercise, which accounted for the peaceful consensuses in certain quarters, is a pointer to how His Excellency keeps deepening the roots of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the State, without much ado, such that any doubts, threats or endangerment to the party’s continued existence in the State has become unthinkable – and even impossible.
It therefore can be argued that the yellow label party or parties who on their own have chosen to withdraw from participating in the forthcoming local government did so for a number of reasons. One, they may have foreseen the writings on the wall and therefore had no better and safer option than to have surrendered with honour to the superior logic and political sagacity of stakeholders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), under the mercurial steerage of Governor Udom Emmanuel- The progenitor and Apostle of the Only God Mantra in the State.
Two, their permutations and prognoses may have revealed to them the growing indifference of the electorate at every level to any party other than the PDP, which they have lived with and unconditionally have chosen to lean on as it has been in the last two decades of uninterrupted democracy and perpetually into the unforeseeable future. Because there is no basis for comparison, it is no matter for debate to state that no party in the State has a stronger base, structure and followership like the PDP.
As such, taking everything into consideration, one can easily say that the eleventh hour decision by the opposition not to participate in the election was predicated on incapacity to withstand the firepower and buffeting tides, lack of dependable and loyal followership, and fears of ultimate failure that is as certain as sunrise and sunset.
We can only imagine, at the moment, what burden of loss they would have had to bear from the outcome of the main election in days to come.
Given the manner and way as well as the conclusive huge success that the change of baton between the immediate past and present State Exco of the PDP was done, Governor Udom Emmanuel may have given strong signals that there was indeed no space for any other political party in Akwa Ibom State. At least, not now that he is still in charge in the State!
That the handing-over was conducted without rancour in an electrifying atmosphere of unwavering solidarity, trust, comradeship, shared dreams and warm embraces pointed to the unity of purpose and amity Governor Emmanuel has sustained in the PDP. Mr. Udo Ekpenyong was enthroned as the new PDP helmsman, while Obong Pual Ekpo dropped a crown he had won for 8 impactful years as PDP’s State Chairman, the first in history to have successfully conducted two governorship elections with landmark victories.
That the inauguration of the 38-member new exco of the PDP came approximately two months to the local government primaries was no coincidence. It was a proof of ratiocination, circumspection and proactiveness that mark a good leader who knows his onions and is a reference point when it comes to planning and management of affairs.
It was a beauty to behold the 3, 845 delegates conduct themselves in the way they did. Needless to emphasize that some states in the federation are still grappling with challenges of transiting from executive to another.
We cannot forget in a hurry Governor Emmanuel’s admonition that although the party has been basking and bathing in consistent achievements since 1999, there was need to do more in connection with good governance and spread of dividends of democracy.
According to the Governor who unarguably is the leader of the party in the state and a critical stakeholder in its existence nationally, “God has always given the PDP direction and victory at elections” and the party has remained a model of party politics and political democracy in the country.
However, beyond the primaries, those who emerged candidates at veracious platforms must, as a matter of gratitude, prove practically to the party and especially to the governor that they truly appreciated the resources he committed to the success of the exercise and the level playing ground he created, such that where there was anything like disagreement, it was quite decimal and manageable in a way it did not affect the unity of the party.
Put the other way, what are some possible ways that those who emerged candidates from the just concluded primaries can show gratitude to the party and Governor Udom Emmanuel? Whereas the governor must not be seen as some sort of a god, and a member’s loyalty is to party than individual, it is necessary that these candidates continue to abide by the rules of the game in terms of not trying to cut corners but consulting with the party leadership as they patiently await the D-day.
Another way is to avoid breaking agreements and alliances which could lead to bad blood among members, especially those who saw reason to concede to zoning and power rotation principles. This is the moment to continue to build stronger bridges and create bonds that will further deepen internal democracy both in the party and the State.
Commentators are of the unanimous conclusion that considerable percentage of reason for the peace that pervades Akwa Ibom State can be traced to the amity that characterises PDP, the ruling party in the State, and Governor Udom Emmanuel’s reticence and accommodation of variety of views from constituents.
Again, there could be temptations for some candidates to choose to indulge in needless and annoying boasts and acts of arrogance that can undermine the camaraderie that binds membership together. This too must be avoided. The proper attitude should be that of “no victor, no vanquish”, an auspicious dispositions that make for greater and stronger affinities in the pursuit of collective dreams in a political circle.
Moreover, as 2023 hovers in the clouds like unpredictable clouds, it is certain that Governor Udom Emmanuel shall in return hang onto the leadership and followership of the PDP to leave office as a satisfied leader who has piloted the affairs of the State for eight years. One begging question now is: With what value of coin shall he be paid by those he held the ladder for to climb to their present status? Will there be a culture of reciprocity or that of paying back with a bad coin? Answers to these questions are in the womb of time. But it were better that the appreciation we show to Governor Udom Emmanuel now for privileges granted or enjoyed and the shared dreams for the PDP in the years to come be safeguarded from the desperation that usually drives personal ambitions in moment of tests.
The summary is that, now that candidates have emerged both for the chairmanship and councillorship positions in all the local government areas of the State, let nobody in the PDP fold try to sow weed amongst the wheat as the indefatigable train of common purpose piloted by Governor Udom Emmanuel cruises on for more victories and testimonies in Akwa Ibom State. All must endeavour to drink the governor’s antidote for political thuggery and gangsterism.
Edet Okpo is an Uyo-based Journalist and Public Affairs Analyst.