After withdrawing from the Senate race for Uyo Senatorial District at the prompting of Governor Udom Emmanuel, Obong Paul Ekpo has been asked by the “system” to run for House of Representatives.
TheMail Newspaper learnt on good authority that Obong Ekpo has been given the right of first refusal for the Etinan/Nsit Ubium/Nsit Ibom Reps seat.
Ekpo, whose tenure as State Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party elapsed in 2020 after two terms in office was gunning for the Red Chamber instead of Green Chamber of the National Assembly as he considered the upper legislative house as more befitting for his status.
Last week, he bought Senate nomination forms in Abuja. Upon his return to Uyo, he took the forms to show Governor Udom Emmanuel at Government House.
The governor reportedly told Ekpo that when he promised him the senate ticket, he never envisaged that his preferred successor will hail from the same Federal Constituency as him. The governor also told the former PDP state helmsman that the people of Uyo Federal Constituency have been making a valid agitation for the senate seat to be zoned to them, hence making it more difficult for Ekpo’s quest to be actualized.
Government House sources told our reporter that Paul Ekpo’s Reps ticket is almost a done deal.
“The governor sees the need to reward Paul Ekpo for his stewardship to the party. It wouldn’t speak well of the party and its reward system if the former state chairman is not properly settled. He is a level headed person who is loyal to the governor as the leader of the party in the state. If not, he would not have taken the forms to show the governor. Even when Governor asked him to withdraw from the senate election and he obliged, some politicians would have disobeyed and still go ahead to contest. His Reps ticket is a done deal. The decision of the governor will be communicated to other aspirants soon”, said our source.
Meanwhile, the stakeholders of Nsit Ibom Local Government are laying claim to House of Representatives seat, saying it is the turn of the LGA to produce the next Rep.
Since the return of Democracy in the 1999, each of the three LGAs in the Federal Constituency have taken two terms each in the Green Chamber.
Emah Bassey from Nsit Ibom went for two terms, Aniedi King and Sam Ikon took the turn of Etinan while Dan Akpan and Onofiok were favoured with Nsit Ubium’s slot.
While some stakeholders in Etinan believe that the the seat have been rotated at equal rounds to all the 3 LGAs, hence any LGA can restart a fresh rotation, others in Nsit Ibom say it would be unfair to make Nsit Ibom wait further longer having last taken its turn about 16 years ago.
Because of the expectations that it was their turn to produce the next Rep, most of the PDP aspirants are from Nsit Ibom. Former Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Anietie Etuk, erstwhile Member of the State House of Assembly, Mfon Ekong, ex-Special Assistant to Governor, David Etuk, amongst others are some of the notable names contesting for the seat. Nsit Ubium reportedly have no aspirants while Etinan didn’t have aspirants too except for the tide-changing entrance of Ekpo into the race.
Proponents of Anietie Etuk’s aspiration believe the former speaker should equally be rewarded for his loyalty to the party. Most of the Speakers of the state assembly since 1999 have been rewarded with seats in House of Representatives and Senate.
Former Speakers of the assembly, Peter Linus Umoh, Nelson Effiong, Sam Ikon, Onofiok Luke have been elected into the National Assembly either as members of the Red or Green Chambers. With the recent withdrawal of Paul Ekpo, current Speaker, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey’s chances of clinching the Uyo senate seat has brightened.
Meanwhile, former Speaker of the House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Anietie Etuk has made a case for his loyalty to the party to be rewarded.
In an interview published on TheMail on Tuesday, Etuk said after being asked to withdraw for Sam Ikon in 2015, the “system” will not ask him to withdraw again before the party primary.
“I’m taking a step of faith in the sense that for the past six years or more, I have been outside the government and then; you know what it means to talk about elections these days: it’s very costly, but when you know your worth and you know what you can do, there is no need to worry.
“And again, remember that in 2015, I aspired to this same position. A week to nomination, I was asked to withdraw. I have friends all the federal constituency. So, I believe that it is the friendship I cultivated over the years that will give me the winning; not necessarily because I have the money. Obviously the friendship I cultivated over the years will certainly give me the winning. That’s why I’m taking this step of faith. And I will win.
“Do I have the strength to fight the system? I don’t have the strength to fight the system, neither the resources, but the same system that asked me to withdraw in 2015 and I did, I believe that they will not do that to me again”, Anietie Etuk said.