Governor Udom Emmanuel has read out a riot act to the stakeholders in Mkpat Enin over the lingering political leadership crisis in the area. The governor issued a last warning to top political gladiators in the area that have been battling for the soul of Mkpat Enin in the past few months.
In a meeting with PDP Congress Committee members last Saturday at Government House, the governor openly told those instigating and fuelling the crisis in the area that if he hears any further report that there is crisis in Mkpat Enin, he would be forced to ground all of them (the political gladiators) and choose new people he would work with.
The governor emphatically said that it is annoying that top politicians in the area are fighting over a ‘petty’ issue such as political leadership, saying that was the last time he would ever discuss the matter.
It could be recalled that the governor had earlier called a stakeholders meeting of local government areas where there are political leadership crisis, with Mkpat Enin topping the list where he told former Deputy Governor, Noble Lady Valerie Ebe to step aside and allow other stakeholders to bring out a political leader in order to put a stop to the lingering political crisis in the area.
The governor had mandated Rt. Hon. (Chief) Nduese Essien to send two observers to the meeting where a supposed new political leader was to emerge, only for the meeting to end in fiasco.
TheMail understands that the governor was utterly dismayed with the report he got from the observers, hence his last warning to the political gladiators.
According to our source, those who were meeting with the governor on Saturday night were Barrister Jerry Akpan – Chairman of the Congress Committee, Hon. Otobong Ndem and Rt. Hon Ekong Sampson who are members of the committee.
TheMail learnt exclusively from a source that after the governor gave the last warning to them, the trio decided to immediately hold a peace meeting to resolve their differences, an idea which was accepted by all.
It is understood that Jerry Akpan said that for the meeting to hold, the Transition Committee Chairman, Hon. Ephraim Akpan has to be there while Ekong Sampson and Otobong Ndem (both in the same camp) argued that the immediate past Deputy Governor, Barr. Valerie Ebe must equally be part of the meeting. This was however agreed and the duo was contacted to join the peace meeting.
At the said meeting, TheMail understands that Hon. Sampson was the first to fire a salvo. Ekong, currently serving in the present state administration as Commissioner for Rural Development reportedly asked Jerry Akpan what he wants. Jerry Akpan is said to have also asked Ekong the same question.
In response to Akpan’s poser, Ekong is said to have told him that there was no reason why they are fighting themselves. The former House of Assembly told Akpan that since he (Akpan) wants to become political leader, they have accepted it in order for peace to reign.
He is reported to have told Jerry that there was no point for him to be fighting a fellow Mkpat Enin man, a situation which he said is favouring their House of Representatives member, Hon. Charles Uduyork.
Barrister Jerry Akpan is said to have saw reasons with Ekong Sampson and agreed to receive the olive branch extended to him and strike a deal.
In turn, the current Transition Chairman, Hon. Ephraim said that he will not rescind his decision to run for the House of Assembly seat in 2019, and that the current House Member, Otobong Ndem should not contemplate of returning to the assembly if peace is to reign in the area.
In his reply, the incumbent Assembly man told the Transition Committee boss that if that is what it would cost him for peace to return to the political sphere in the area, he would not mind sacrificing his second term for peace to reign. Mr. Ndem said that as far as he is concerned, his clan Ikpa Ibom has taken their turn and that it is the turn of Ibiaku clan (where Ephraim hails from) to produce the next house member.
A peace accord was struck and the issue of political leadership was settled and other interests were settled.
Then came the issue of the forthcoming ward and chapter congresses of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Ekong Sampson, who had been a journalist and solicitor of the Supreme Court said that in order to pacify everybody in the meeting, each of them will be allowed to take charge and produce those who will constitute the ward exco and members of the ward congress committees, a deal which was seen by all as being fair enough.
After the 5 politicians had taken charge of their respective wards, Ekong Sampson’s camp took charge of the remaining 9 wards, nominating not less than 3 persons each into each and every one of the remaining 9 wards. For example, in Ukpum Minya Ward 3, they allowed Ubong Ekefre and Chief Richard Umoren from the opposing camp to be in the committee while nominating the remaining 3 members of the
committee. This was a political masterstroke for the Ekong Sampson’s camp as their superstructure emerged victorious and the biggest winner in the deal.
But after the whole horse-trading, it was the dethroned political leader, Chief Richard Umoren who was the biggest loser. It was a humiliation of the highest order for Chief Umoren popularly known as Tractor as he was not considered relevant enough to be invited for such an important peace meeting nor was he briefed thereafter.
Chief Umoren who was the first Executive Chairman of the Local Government Area and tentative political leader of the area since 2004 was totally sidelined in the process.
To worsen the humiliation, TheMail has gathered on good authority that Chief Umoren has not been given control of his ward as evidenced in the composition of the ward congress committee. After nominating Umoren as the leader of the 5-man committee in his ward, a certain Engr Meyen Etukudoh who is said to be the governor’s Special Assistant on Power was mandated to be the de-facto leader of the ward congress committee.
Sources have told TheMail that when Richard Umoren called Barrister Jerry Akpan to find out how the forthcoming ward congress would be done in his ward, Jerry Akpan reportedly told Chief Umoren on phone to work with Meyen Etukudoh and dropped the call on the elderly man.
This is said to have infuriated Chief Umoren who questioned why he would be so humiliated, stating that as the immediate past leader of the LGA, a simple honour of allowing him to be the head of the ward congress committee for his ward could not be done him.
Political pundits who spoke to TheMail said it is the height of political insult and humiliation on Chief Umoren and urged the governor to call Barr. Akpan to order for the umpteenth time.
The pundits said the likes of Senator Anietie Okon (Itu), Chief Afangideh (Essien Udim), Otu Robert (Ini) who are Chief Umoren’s peers would not be so humiliated in their respective LGAs not to talk of their respective wards.
Speaking independently with TheMail, the political pundits said that for Chief Umoren who many politicians in the area have rode on his back to political stardom and height to be so unfairly treated smacks highest level of disrespect and ungratefulness.
Meanwhile, some politicians who supported Barrister Jerry Akpan’s course have lambasted him for betraying them for his selfish interest. Some of them who spoke with TheMail on condition of anonymity told the newspaper that they have regretted joining hands with Jerry Akpan to fight the Ekong Sampson camp, saying it is a big betrayal that Akpan did not carry them along in the deal that was struck at the meeting.
Attached below is the list of Mkpat Enin ward congress committee members which is yet to be made public but exclusively obtained by TheMail.