As the 2023 governorship election draws near, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel has gone brutal on perceived supporters of Senator Bassey Albert Akpan. Udom’s non-support for OBA to succeed him as governor has become a known fact in government circles, political camps and even amongst the populace.
The governor’s resolve to clamp down on OBA’s ambition took a brutal form on Tuesday when Councilors in Oruk Anam LGA signed an impeachment notice against the Vice Chairman of the council, Abasiama Etukakpan.
The impeachment notice was signed by 14 of the 16 councilors in the Legislative Council. TheMail learnt that the two absentee councilors were ready and willing to append their signature to the impeachment notice but were indisposed before the notice was given to the press for announcement.
The Councilors accused Etukakpan of submitting “certificates with highly questionable and fraudulent dates…in the course of his quest to become Vice Chairman of the Local Government Area.
“In his Certificate of Birth for instance, Abasiama Etukakpan claims that he was born on 17th October, 1992, whereas in his West African Examinations Council Certificate, the same Abasiama is said to have been born on 1st March, 1998.
“By the provisions of section 36 and 43 sub 2 of the Akwa Ibom State Local Government Administration Law, 2017, it has been clearly stated that a person shall not be qualified to hold the office of Vice Chairman if he has not attained the age of 30.
“If Abasiama was born in 1992 as claimed in his Birth Certificate, the implication is that he was 28 years as at 2020 when he presented himself for the election.
“If Abasiama was born in 1998 as claimed in his WAEC Certificate, the implication is that he was only 22 years old as at 2020 when he presented himself for the election, 8 years short of the mandatory 30 years required by law.
“It has also been discovered that Abasiama Etukakpan submitted forged Tax Clearance to qualify for election as Vice Chairman. The above are acts of gross misconduct against a public officer. In view of the above, Hon. Abasiama Etukakpan is hereby impeached and accordingly removed from office as Vice Chairman of Oruk Anam Local Government Area with immediate effect”, the impeachment notice reads.
But TheMail Newspaper learnt on good authority that Etukakpan’s impeachment is a clear case of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it as he has been an unapologetic supporter OBA who is now an endangered specie.
TheMail understands that Etukakpan has been wooing and mobilizing PDP delegates in the Local Government Area for OBA ahead of next year’s party primary. This, we understand is one of the reasons the governor is angered.
In the process of wooing some councilors for OBA, Etukakpan was recorded while having conversation with a councilor where he pointedly said OBA will become the next governor. These audio recordings were played to the listening of the governor. In one of the audio recordings exclusively obtained by TheMail Newspaper, Etukakpan while having a private chat with a Councilor made an uncomplimentary remark against the governor and government. This, we learnt irked the governor so much that he ordered his immediate removal.
In the audio obtained by TheMail, Etukakpan said: “I know of a man that has capacity. That man is Bassey Albert. He is contesting for governorship in 2023. So I need to work with Councilors that I know and trust. They say Udom wants to bring out someone, is this kind of hand that they use in producing successor? We are going to have a meeting with him (Bassey Albert) this weekend in Akwa Ibom so that we can sit down and talk. Some of your colleagues are in. I will not tell everybody because it is not all of them that I’m sure of. Loyalty is not blindness, we have to use our hands and change our destinies. Because if we allow this kind of thing to happen in Akwa Ibom again it will be a complete disaster for another 8 years.
“OBA is next governor of Akwa Ibom…We are meeting as a group this month. I have to submit the list to ‘obongowo’. So that he can give little transport. State government is not treating us fine. Last month, N7m was given to the council…”, the impeached Vice Chairman said in the 29 minutes long audio obtained by TheMail.
Flippancy and lack of tact by the impeached Vice Chair may have provided loophole for the Government and the councilors to use in his impeachment. While discussing with the Councilor who said the Chapter Chairman and a certain Itoro had a hand in his election as Councilor, Etukakpan told the Councilor why he used SSCE instead of Bachelor of Arts certificate when he filled his nomination and AKISIEC forms. He told the councilor that he is yet to collect his NYSC discharge certificate, though he is about to pursue his Masters Degree.
This information he gave out in the audio was used against him as his credentials were dug out and the loopholes found were capitalized and used as excuse for his axe.
TheMail understands that when governor listened to the audio, he was livid. Igwat Umoren, a senior aide of the governor who nominated Etukakpan for the position was immediately summoned. Our sources say Igwat rushed to the airport to meet the governor who was on his way out of the state.
When Igwat met with the governor at the airport, the governor is said to have scolded him and asked him “is that not your boy”.
Igwat is angling to be favoured by the Governor as replacement for the late Udo Ekpenyong as State PDP Chairman. TheMail learnt that in a bid to please the governor and the system and to dissociate himself from Abasiama’s actions and everything that has to do with OBA-governorship, Igwat was surprisingly one of those pushing for Abasiama’s removal as Vice Chairman.
This paper also understands that while the process of axing Etukakpan was in full gear, the governor’s CSO invited Etukakpan where he was quizzed about his NYSC certificate, amongst other issues.
We also understand that when it dawned on Etukakpan what might befall him, he ran to some influential politicians in the state to salvage him. In a bid to pacify the system, he also visited some radio stations recently where he spoke glowingly of the governor, state government and Oruk Anam LG leadership. Sources told our reporter that Etukakpan was given the option of resigning in order to save his budding political career.
Some of the governor’s supporters and appointees are said to be tilting towards an OBA governorship. Etukakpan had in the audio named a high ranking government official as a member of OBA’s camp. Governor has been telling some of his supporters that he is aware of the night meetings they attend with the embattled governorship aspirant, ordering them to desist as he has not sanctioned such meetings.
The governor had on Tuesday during an event at Uyo LG Council Secretariat said he is the only one that knows who will succeed him, cautioning that there are too many fake prophecies on who will become the next governor in 2023.