…No vacancy for cultist in Hilltop Mansion – Effiong Bob, Nkanga insist
By Ekemini Simon
Political bigwigs and key players in the politics of Akwa Ibom State have expressed divergent views on how zoning should be implemented in the 2023 gubernatorial election in the State.
Some of political stakeholders have said that the zoning cycle in the State would end when Governor Udom Emmanuel finishes his tenure while others have insisted that it will continue with Uyo Senatorial district having their shot after Governor Udom Emmanuel exit office.
The stakeholders made their stance known in a recent conversation tagged “Democracy Day Social Media Convo” with Conference of Online Publishers in Akwa Ibom (COOPA).
During the conversation, the former House of Representatives Member and Chairman, Cross River Basin Development Authority, Hon Eseme Eyiboh raised the issue of zoning, insisting that at the end of Udom Emmanuel’s administration in 2023, the State would have completed the zoning cycle, hence, there is need to start afresh.
He said “The cycle of zoning in Akwa Ibom has ended. So, what will happen now is, everybody, including somebody from Governor Udom’s local government has the right now to contest in 2023.
“Somebody from Godswill Akpabio’s senatorial district has the right to contest. Somebody from Uyo has the right to contest.”
Eyiboh who is also the former Spokesman of the House of Representative noted that whoever will emerge the governor, the cycle will start from his Senatorial district.
He said in 2023, if the zoning is scheduled to automatically start from Uyo Senatorial district, that will mean that Eket people are perpetually going to be on standby in every cycle of 16 years.
The CRBDA boss suggested that if an Eket man emerges governor in 2023, then again, Ikot Ekpene and Uyo will struggle for who emerges. He insisted that the State should share the waiting period.
Eyiboh added: “Social Justice and equity should be the components of whatever we are doing because of the future generations, not just because of the next general elections.”
Also expressing his stance, the Gubernatorial Candidate of the Young Democratic Party in the 2019 elections and proponent of Social Governance Ideology, Arc Ezekiel Nya-Etok agreed with the thoughts of Hon Eseme Eyiboh.
While making reference to how Oro people were denied Governorship in 2019, he said zoning has failed in Akwa Ibom State, thus the need to sit back and re- strategize how zoning should be implemented come 2023.
Nya-Etok noted: “Zoning was well thought out. But unfortunately, as things played out, I think zoning has failed Akwa Ibom State. We should sit back and talk about it. We can’t say now that it must go to here or there if we really want to have the desired result.”
The 2019 gubernatorial candidate complained that the zoning arrangement went amiss in 2015 when Governor Godswill Akpabio implemented zoning on the basis of Senatorial district instead of the tribal formula as passed down by Obong Victor Attah.
Nya-Etok who hails from Ikot Ekpene Senatorial district predicted that if the proper zoning arrangement is not discussed and agreed upon, the people of his Senatorial district will be more affected anytime governorship returns to Ikot Ekpene Senatorial district.
He stated: “When this issue of zoning on Senatorial District basis came to the fore, I advised my Annang brothers where I hail from that the Annangs need to be careful how they change zoning from tribe basis to senatorial district.
“The reason is that if Governorship comes back to Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, it means that someone from INI and Ikono has equal right with someone from Abak and Ikot Ekpene.
“When that time comes, since politics is game of numbers and the Ibibios want to play smart, the Annangs will remain for years and not taste governorship position. No matter what you do, overnight the majority sentiments may come to play. When that time comes, Ikot Ekpene people should not cry foul at all.”
Nya-Etok stated that he believes many have learnt lessons in the political zoning experiment of the State hence he thinks it is time Akwa Ibom people start asking necessary questions over 2023 gubernatorial election.
On his part, the Former Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party in the State, Arc Otu Ita Toyo affirmed that the zoning cycle in the State has been completed.
He said that gubernatorial zoning arrangement in the State was not to be permanent as such there is the need to sit back and design how the next phase of zoning should be.
Arc Toyo said: “Our forebears designed zoning for equity in the State. It wasn’t to be permanent. It was to go to the three major tribes of the State and after that, it would be assessed and we see what to do so that everyone would be carried along.”
The former PDP boss expressed displeasure over the fact that Obong Godswill Akpabio misdirected the zoning pendulum leaving Oro people shortchanged.
Arc. Toyo insisted that Akwa Ibom State can never progress without the inclusiveness of tribe in power arrangement.
Also reacting to the position so far expressed on Zoning in the State, the Chairman of Akwa Ibom State Waste Management and Environmental Agency, Prince Akpan Ikim noted that it is not tenable that the zoning cycle in the State has been completed.
While insisting that it would be the turn of Uyo Senatorial district come 2023, he added “Let us not deceive ourselves. Eseme Eyiboh knows that there is no way we can rotate the zoning system from Eket Senatorial District. Uyo Senatorial District must restart the zoning system in 2023.”
Also lending voice, International Award Winning Investigative Journalist, Ibanga Isine noted that it was disheartening for some political stakeholders in the State to push for a change in the zoning narrative when they were all quiet when zoning derailed to the wrong lane.
He wondered why those who now complain of Oro nation being cheated were quiet when it mattered most.
While insisting that Uyo Senatorial district will continue the gubernatorial zoning cycle, Isine added “If you want people to be involved across the state, let zoning be upheld. Uyo Senatorial District should take its turn.”
On his part, one of the Political leaders in Uyo Senatorial district, Senator Effiong Bob noted that the claim that gubernatorial zoning cycle has ended in the State is rather laughable and miscalculated.
He noted however that all those saying that zoning cycle has ended in Akwa Ibom State are talking about the stance of their party and not PDP which he belongs.
Senator Bob stated that in PDP, he knows that zoning for governorship will continue and it is coming to Uyo Senatorial district after the tenure of Governor Udom Emmanuel.
Commenting on the issue of Micro Zoning within the Senatorial district, the Senator noted “There is no micro zoning in Uyo Senatorial District. However, as far as I am concerned the only Federal constituency I know will not have a bite again for the Governorship is Uyo Federal Constituency because they produced a Governor in Obong Attah.
“We are talking about democracy from 1999. You can’t talk about what happened during Military era by saying that Idongesit Nkanga had served. If you talk about Akpan Isemin, did he complete eight years? If we want to exclude Etinan Federal constituency, what about Navy Captain Achibong? He was a Governor from Itu.”
He warned that among those who aspire to succeed Governor Udom Emmanuel come 2023, Cultists should steer clear so that the peace enjoyed in the State would be sustained.
Senator Bob said “I agree with the position expressed by Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga that a cultist must not be allowed to succeed Governor Udom Emmanuel. I don’t know about Cultist for Christ.
“Let Christians decide whether such persons are cultists in the day or night. Neither a cultist nor someone who said he was a cultist must be allowed to serve the State as Governor. What about the initiation he passed through? My position is that if you are a cultist, don’t go for election in Akwa Ibom State. The Governor had banned it and it must be sustained “.
It could be recalled that the Director General of Divine Mandate Organization and Former Military Governor of the State, Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga had said that no Cultist will succeed Governor Udom Emmanuel come 2023.
He is quoted to have said “You cannot be a cultist and want to take over a Christian dominated State. I am looking at someone in the mold of Governor Udom Emmanuel. Someone who will not throw away what we hold dear to say let us go and start afresh.”