The battle for those to emerge Chairmanship Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in each of the 31 Local Government Areas of the State is far from being settled. Incumbent Council Chairmen are those facing the hottest heat. Although some have the backing of stakeholders in their area, some aspirants are emerging with a sweeping tide to send over 50 percent of the Council Chairmen packing.
Some of the Chairmanship aspirants with strong prospect of emerging as flag bearers have the backing of some political bigwigs in their area including past and serving Commissioners, lawmakers among other political Juggernauts. Some of these stakeholders have come up with cards including aptitude tests and factional communiqués to send fears down the spine of the aspirants that do not have their blessings. Scores among the aspirants have godfathers who have the ears of the Governor and they will stop at nothing to explore the leverage they have to their advantage.
There are a few dark horses who await last minute compromise and surprises. TheMail Newspaper brings to you the details of the characters and machinations in this power play.
NYAKNO OKOIBU – IKONO
Nyakno Uwemedimo Okoibu is said to be the governor’s anointed in Ikono LGA. Information at our disposal has it that a senior judicial officer from the area nominated Okoibu to the governor as his choice for the PDP ticket. The governor is said to have privately told the jurist that he would honour any demand he makes. The jurist’s demand from the governor is to make Okoibu the next chairman of Ikono. This has left the incumbent chairman trying his luck as many pundits had touted him as one of the chairmen that would get a second term owing to his performance. He is said to also be in the good books of the governor and his wife. But unfortunately for him, the governor’s hands are tied as he cannot turn down the senior law officer’s request. The governor is said to have told the chairman, Hon. Itoro Columba to withdraw from the race and work for the realization of the chairmanship ambition of Nyakno Okoibu. Columba in turn is said to have told the governor that he remains loyal to him and would do his bidding to the latter. Other political stakeholders in Ikono have also been told to work towards a successful election of Okoibu as the next Chairman of the LGA.
JOSHUA AFFIA – IKOT ABASI
Joshua Affia is the choice of the powers that be in Ikot Abasi. Engr. Uwem Okoko, CEO of Hensek Integrated Services, Rt. Hon. Uduak Odudoh, Member Representing Ikot Abasi/Eastern Obolo in the House of Assembly, former Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. Uduak Charles Udoinyang, Chief Atako Ukporo, a party elder are some of the political gladiators said to have endorsed his candidature. Just like in Eastern Obolo, zoning is said to be sacrosanct which is why the incumbent chairman of the Local Government Council is not contesting for second term. Affia is from Ikot Etefia in Ikpa Nnung Asang Clan where the chairmanship seat has been zoned to.
INIOBONG EKPENYONG – URUAN
Political leaders of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Uruan LGA have presented Surveyor Iniobong Domingo Effiong Ekpenyong as the party’s consensus candidate for the chairmanship seat in the forthcoming Local Government Election.
In a meeting held last week Wednesday at Luton Park, Uyo, the surveyor was presented by the Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey on behalf of stakeholders of the area.
Political leaders and stakeholders who attended the meeting are Engr. J. B. Effiong, Obong Offiong Akpabio, Obong Ekpe Atakpo, Chairman of AKIRS Board – Mr. Okon Okon, LG Council Chairman – Pastor Henry Udofia, PDP Chapter chairman – Sabastine Nkanga, former LG chairman – Tony Akan, former lawmaker – Rt. Hon. Usenobong Akpabio, Obong Augustine Effiong, among others.
We learnt that the stakeholders had earlier decided that the chairmanship aspirants must undergo a test, both written and oral in order to pick the best amongst them. Sources in Uruan told TheMail Newspaper that stakeholders of the area have been severally embarrassed by the incumbent council chairman’s inability to properly communicate in English.
It is understood that Surveyor Iniobong Ekpenyong came out tops in the test and is favoured by zoning.
Iniobong Ekpenyong is a son of Nung Ikono Ufok, Southern Uruan Ward IV.
He is a registered/Licensed Surveyor. Few months ago, he was recognized by the Surveyors Council of Nigeria (SURCON) as the best graduating candidate for the 2019 professional examination.
He is a one-time President, National Association of Uruan Students, University of Uyo Chapter.
EDNA EDWIN DANIEL – NSIT IBOM
Lady Edna Edwin Daniel is said to be the preferred candidate of some major political stakeholders in Nsit Ibom. Edna who is the leader of Akwa Ibom State Female Youths Association was the Supervisory Councilor for Agriculture and Mineral Resources in Nsit Ibom Legislative Council before her appointment by the governor as his Special Assistant. There are reports that her nomination form was bought by a front line 2023 governorship aspirant. Hon. Eric Akpan is fighting hard to win the confidence of the stakeholders in order to get their nod for a second term. Last week, he presented his scorecard before political leaders and stakeholders of the area. Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga, the political leader has not openly told Eric that he is not supporting him for a second term, but sources close to the former DG of successive successful governorship campaign organizations say the former Military Administrator, MILAD is not favourably disposed to Eric’s ambition. Others who are not in support of his second term ambition include former ALGON Chairman, Victor Umondak, former Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Anietie Etuk. The Nkanga brothers, Samuel Nkanga who is Vice Chairman of Council and Elder Amanam Nkanga, new Special Adviser in the Governor’s cabinet would most likely take instructions from their elder brother, Idongesit Nkanga on who to support. The current House of Assembly Member, Ifiok OS Udoh a.k.a Bengun is said to be in support of Eric Akpan’s ambition. Though some sources in the area say the governor is fully in support of Eric’s return as the Chairman, the governor is said to have huge respect for his campaign DG, hence may allow him to converse with other stakeholders and make their choice.
Meanwhile, people of Nsit Ibom LGA last Friday protested at the Ewet Housing residence of Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga over the second term ambition of Eric Akpan. The protesters rejected Eric from returning as Council Chairman for a second term in office.
But those who are in the know told our correspondent that the protest was sponsored by Eric’s opponents and some senior stakeholders in the LGA.
MALACHY UKPEH – IKA
Malachy Malachy Ukpeh is the choice of the strong and influential stakeholders of Ika LGA. Malachy who is from Urban Ward 2 in Ito Clan holds HND in Mechanical Engineering. The stakeholders in a letter dated 28th July, 2020 sent to the governor, the stakeholders announced Malachy as the consensus candidate for the chairmanship seat.
“Your Excellency, the elders, leaders and stakeholders of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ika Local Government Area after a very intensive deliberations, occasioned by thorough screening of aspirants on the choice of the next Chairman of Ika Local Government among the aspirants from Ito Clan in line with the zoning arrangement”, the stakeholders said in the letter.
Those who signed the letter include Uwem Nwoko, Esq, Attorney General/Commissioner for Justice, Chief Saviour Enyiekere, former Chairman of Ika who is currently serving as SSA to Governor on Boundary Matters, Rt. Hon Biatus Udofia, Chairman, Ika Elders Forum, Barr. Utibe Nwoko, SA to Governor on Legal Documentation, Hon. Otuekong Inyang, Chairman, Ito Elders Forum, Prince Ernest Essien, State Officer of PDP and Hon. Iboro Nelson Udoh, Chapter Chairman of PDP in Ika.
Other stakeholders are also pushing for Rt. Hon. Anthony Udousung to be given second term but most of them don’t have the ears of the governor nor do they have direct access to him. Udousung is from Odoro Clan while the stakeholders who signed the letter to the governor want it zoned to Malachy from Ito Clan.
Udousung has been having a running battle with some of the aforementioned political gladiators in the area.
GODWIN INYIENG – UKANAFUN
Godwin Inyieng is a personal Aide of the newly sworn in State Chairman of PDP, Hon. Udo Ekpenyong. He is a journalist who practiced in Lagos before returning to the state. There are some stakeholders who are said to be uncomfortable with Inyieng’s candidature but it would be hard to dislodge him. Udo is said to always be firm in his choices and convictions. The incumbent chairman, Uko Idiong and few other persons are said to be interested in running but political pundits in the area say such ambition is herculean to realize based on the vantage position Udo is occupying in the party.
OWOIDIGHE IBIOK – NSIT UBIUM
Former Zenith Bank man, Owoidighe Ibiok is said to be the prime candidate for the job but he has many hurdles to cross. The incumbent chairman, Udemeobong Sylvanus is interested in retaining his seat while governor’s aide, Captain Iniobong Ekong (retd) is also flying a candidate said to be his sister’s husband. Ibiok is said to be backed by former ExxonMobil Vice Chairman, Udom Inoyo. Captain Ekong otherwise known as ‘Ikwa Afang’ is pushing for the chairmanship to be retained in his clan, Nsit while those in Inoyo’s camp who are projecting Ibiok want the position to be zoned to the Southern part of Ubium. Pundits say if Inoyo is really serious about his governorship ambition, he has to start from his LGA to show his political sagacity. His political grit would hugely tasted during the LG elections. Meanwhile, we learnt that Onofiok Luke and Senator Effiong Bob have aligned their interests and are poised to produce a candidate. With this development, there are three camps in the bid to produce a PDP candidate: The Inoyo camp, the Ikwa Afang camp and the Bob/Onofiok camp.
IDORENYIN RAPHAEL – IBIONO IBOM
The current Special Assistant to the Governor on Trade and Market Matters, Idorenyin Raphael is favoured to get the party’s ticket ahead of the incumbent chairman, EkomAbasi Akpan. Majority of the stakeholders in Ibiono Ibom have zoned the chairmanship seat to Southern Ibiono Ibom where Idorenyin Raphael hails from. And in Southern Ibiono, his village is said to be in the ward that is favoured the most to produce the next chairman. The stakeholders who took part in the zoning of the seat to Ibiono South are immediate past House of Assembly Member, Barr. Ime Okon, incumbent member of the House of Assembly, Obong Godwin Ekpo, the Commissioner who just exited state exco on Monday, Dr. Iniobong Essien, amongst others. The political leader of Ibiono Ibom, Obong Ntienyong Inyangmme who is in the camp of Obong Bassey Albert is said to have earlier voted to retain the chairmanship seat in Northern Ibiono Ibom. The incumbent chairman, Ekom Akpan is from Northern Ibiono and OBA among others in his camp want him to return for a second term. We learnt on good authority that it was Inyangmme who first took a decision on zoning before Ekpo and co countered it the following day. Information on our disposal also has it that the meeting for the zoning to Northern Ibiono Ibom took place on July 23 at Inyangmme’s house. It is understood that Godwin Ekpo, Ime Okon, Iniobong Essien were all part of the meeting. We also learnt further that the handlers of the communique arising from the meeting at Inyangmme’s house were not smart enough to make the communique ready on time to be released to the media. Ekpo and co quickly organized a counter zoning meeting the following day with the news hitting the airwaves as the meeting was ongoing. Insiders say this was a smart move as it made whatever was agreed at Inyangmme’s place to look reactionary.
IDORENYIN INYANG – NSIT ATAI
The incumbent Vice Chairman of Council, Idorenyin Inyang is said to be favoured by zoning. He is one of those in Mark Esset’s camp who is vying for the chairmanship seat. Others in Mark’s camp are Chrysancthus Okon and Cosmos Okon. But information at our disposal has it that Mark is propping up Idorenyin Inyang for the party ticket. The incumbent Commissioner in the state executive council from Nsit Atai, Otuekong Raphael Bassey, the deputy state chairman of the party, Lawrence Udosen among others are with Mark which makes the camp thick. Incumbent chairman, Lady Emem Ibanga will have to brace for the battle to save her political career. Recently, the lady chairman has undergone many troubles which part of it she just overcame. She was suspended and reinstated by the House of Assembly but more battles are coming her way ahead of the jostling for the party ticket. She would have banked on her closeness with the Governor’s wife and the First Lady’s desire to see many more women being elected as Local Government chairpersons. But the scandals that has rocked her recently is said to have made the First Lady have a rethink about giving her support. That notwithstanding, political pundits say Emem has tough skin and has the desired political sagacity to pull through and win the party’s chairmanship ticket.
SAMMY ESSIEN – ITU
There is much political tension in Itu LGA ahead of the party primary to produce candidates for the forthcoming Local Government elections in the state. We learnt on good authority that the serving House of Assembly member, Kufre-Abasi Edidem is pushing for the return of incumbent LG Council Chair, Barr. Etetim Onuk. Onuk was brought to the seat with the help of Commissioner Akan Okon and members of his camp, including the political leader, Anietie Okon. But Onuk fell out of favour from the Okons and he is seeking a second term without their support. Akan Okon who has most of the political structure in Itu is backing the current Secretary of Council, Sammy Essien for the chairmanship seat. Both camps have agreed that the chairmanship seat should be retained in East Itam. They want East Itam to take two terms in the Chairmanship position but both camps have failed in reaching a compromise who should complete the term. Those in Kufre Edidem’s camp including the Member Representing Itu/Ibiono Ibom Federal Constituency in the House of Reps, Dr. Henry Archibong want Onuk from Ward 6 while Akan Okon and his camp are supporting Sammy Essien from Ward 7. Insiders told our reporter on Monday that crisis is brewing on the chairmanship of the election Coordinating Committee in Itu. Credible sources told us that Godwin Awah who is the Chairman of the committee is loyal to Kufre Edidem while the secretary was nominated by Henry Archibong. Henry Archibong is said to have also nominated few other members of the committee. Former Member of the House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. (Dr) Ekaette Ebong Okon is indifferent as she is trying to be neutral in the politics of Itu. But ahead of 2023 governorship election, she is said to be in OBA’s camp which does not resonate well with Akan Okon and his camp. We learnt that the only member of the committee which is loyal to Akan is Godwin Ndon. Reports have it that the political leader of the area, Anietie Okon is pushing for the list to be substituted and reconstituted in order to favour his camp. It could be recalled that similar political fracas ensued during the last LG congress of the PDP in Itu but Akan Okon emerged victorious by installing most of the wards and Chapter officers, especially the chairmen. If the stakeholders of the area fail to come up with a consensus candidate, then the flag bearer of the party would be decided via party primary. We understand that Akan Okon is in control of statutory delegates in at least 7 wards in the LGA who will vote his preferred candidate. The statutory delegates that are expected to vote for Onuk are from the wards where he (Onuk), Henry Archibong and KufreAbasi Edidem hail from.
“Those supporting Onuk know they can’t win via delegate election, that is why they hijacked the list of the election coordinating committee to see if they can use it to their advantage”, a source hinted.
Meanwhile, Hon. Chris Daniels is the dark horse for the race and if both camps fail to produce a candidate, Chris might be given the ticket as a neutral aspirant. But his albatross is his relationship with former House of Assembly member, Hon. Idongesit Ituen. Those in Akan Okon’s camp do not trust him and believe he might still be loyal to an enemy of the camp who is now in APC.
ABRAHAM ODION – EASTERN OBOLO
The current Councilor representing Ward 6 in the Eastern Obolo Legislative Council, Hon. Abraham Odion is the choice of Francis Uduyok, Member House of Representatives. Other stakeholders in the area have equally agreed with the choice of Odion. Last weekend, the Political Leaders, Elders, Stakeholders gathered and zoned the chairmanship to Okwaan Obolo where Odion comes from. The current occupant of the chairmanship seat, Victoria Tallick is from Iko zone. We learnt that in the LGA, zoning is sacrosanct and is always adhered to.
Those who attended the meeting include
Rt. Hon. Francis Charles Uduyok, Hon. Sir. Adasi Ubulom, Rt. Hon. Charles Mbong, Hon. Gamaliel Harry, Sir Maxwell Ojoko, Sir Adasi Ubulom, Sir Levi Uzono, amongst others.
Odion who is the favourite to replace Tallick is a former students’ leader who served as Worldwide President of Eastern Obolo Students Association some years ago.
REV OBOT EKANEM – MKPAT ENIN
The political terrain in Mkpat Enin is boiling over the planned imposition of Rev. Obot Ekanem by the new commissioner from Mkpat Enin, Prof. Eno Ibanga. The immediate past AKSU VC is believed to be the one fronting the elderly reverend gentleman to take over from Ekanem Brown who is equally taking a shot at second term in office as Chairman of Council. The political old war horses in the area such as Rt. Hon. Ekong Sampson, Barr. Jerry Akpan, Mfon Nkanteen, Rt. Hon. Bernard Udoh may have to unite in a marriage of strange bed fellows in order to wrestle power with Eno Ibanga who is said to be “apple of the governor’s eyes in Mkpat Enin”. Eno Ibanga has been sent to the juicy Ministry of Works and Fireservice as Commissioner, he is expected to have deep pockets and wield more powers politically in the LGA. Ibanga is accused of running a two-man show in Mkpat Enin, alongside Meyen Etukudo who is the SSA to Governor on Power. There is a stalemate on who should fly the party’s flag as chairmanship candidate for the forthcoming LG election. If the stakeholders fail to agree on a consensus candidate which looks impossible at the moment, the governor might wade in or allow all the aspirants to test their popularity at the party primary. Zoning, they say, does not favour the incumbent, Ekanem Brown who is from Ukpum Minya. Stakeholders of the party say it is the turn of Ikpa Ikono Clan to produce the next chairman. The likes of Nkereuwem James, Ubon Stanislaus Usen and Michael Ekpo (Aniekpon), among others have indicated interest in getting the PDP ticket. But Rev Obot Ekanem is the most favoured because of the backing he gets from the ‘New Lord of the Manor’, Eno Ibanga.
HON. IME AFFIA – ETIM EKPO
Hon. Ime Affia is the choice of the elders and political stakeholders of Etim Ekpo. He is said to be have been chosen by the National Legal Adviser of the PDP, Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem who is the ‘kingmaker’ in the area. Hon. Affia who is currently the Councilor Representing Ward 10 in the Etim Ekpo Legislative Council is from Utut Annang Clan which is favoured by zoning. The incumbent chairman, Udeme Eduo is from Obong Clan. The chairmanship seat is expected to be zoned to Uruk clan in 2023.
AGNES UDOENWENWEN – OBOT AKARA
Agnes Udoenwenwen is the choice of the stakeholders of Obot Akara. She has been endorsed by the stakeholders, elders, women and youths of Obot Akara. The PDP – Obot Akara Chapter has also fully thrown its weight behind the aspirant of the lady. We learnt that the First Lady, Martha Emmanuel has endorsed her candidacy and has told her to go ahead and purchase nomination form. The governor’s wife wants more women to head the third tier of government and with Victoria Tallick of Eastern Obolo not returning for second term, Agnes is the one taking one of the slots given to the governor’s wife to produce a female chairperson. Stakeholders of Obot Akara such as Senator Chris Ekpenyong, Sir Monday Ebong Uko, Prince Idongesit Ntekpere, Anietie Akpaettor, Professor Maria Ikorok, Blessing Ebong Uko and others are said to have started working towards the success of Udoenwenwen at the polls.