Ahead of the Local Government Congress of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), it is not yet Uhuru for the 15 aspirants who emerged sole candidates in their respective LGAs as more aspirants are likely to be cleared to take part in this weekend’s party primary.
Aspirants contesting under PDP were last weekend screened by the different screening panels of the party with the names of those cleared published on Monday night.
15 chairmanship aspirants emerged as sole candidates in their respective LGAs. They are High Chief William Mkpa of Ibeno, Eyo Asuquo Effiong of Mbo, Odion Abraham Mathias of Eastern Obolo, Paul Joshua Affia from Ikot Abasi, Anieokpon Eno Ekpo of Mkpat Enin, Afia Imeh Paul from Etim Ekpo, Mrs. Agnes Cosmas Udoenwenwen from Obot Akara, and the incumbent chairman of Ikot Ekpene – Unyime Okon Etim.
Others are Okoibu Uwemedimoh Nyakno from Ikono, Malachy Malachy Ukpeh from Ika, Uruan LGA’s Sur. Iniobong Effiong Ekpenyong, incumbent chairperson of Nsit Atai – Emem Emmanuel Ibanga, serving chairman of Itu – Hon. (Barr.) Etetim Onuk and Arc. Iniobong Aloysius Orok from Nsit Ubium, Johnnie Ndukeobong from Uyo.
The decision to screen out some aspirants has elicited more crisis. The stakeholders backing the disqualified aspirants have made several moves to get their candidates cleared.
The two appeal panels sat on Tuesday to entertain petitions from those affected by the decision of the screening committees.
TheMail learnt on good authority that the likes of Senator Anietie Okon who is the political leader of Itu, Member Representing Nsit Atai State Constituency – Rt. Hon. Mark Esset, amongst others have made frantic efforts to get their preferred aspirants cleared to contest the PDP primary.
TheMail understands that Senator Anietie Okon went to Government House on Tuesday morning to see the governor over the decision to screen out Chris Daniel, the preferred aspirant of his camp.
The incumbent Chairman of Council, Barr. Etetim Onuk is the only aspirant cleared to stand election in Itu. But he is not in the good books of Anietie Okon and Commissioner for Economic Development and Ibom Deep seaport, Akan Okon.
Onuk is being supported by the House of Assembly member, Hon. KufreAbasi Edidem and his House of Representatives counterpart, Rt. Hon. Henry Archibong, alongside other stakeholders.
The Okons were the major sponsors of Onuk in the 2017 election where he emerged against the preferred candidate of the then House of Assembly member, Hon. Idongesit Ituen who is now an APC chieftain.
Onuk fell out with the Okons over allegations that he later turned to a supporter of OBA who is largely seen as a political arch-enemy of the family, amongst other issues.
Same happened with Henry Archibong whom the Okons supported for his first term as House of Representatives member in 2015 against the candidate of Senator Bassey Albert. Henry Archibong was to later align with OBA much to the chagrin of the Okons.
With the political situation in Itu, the House of Reps Member, House of Assembly Member and Council Chairman are not in the political camp of the Okons, hence they see the LG election as an opportunity to “reward” Onuk for his alleged treachery by stopping him from returning for a second term.
Sources in the Okons’ camp told TheMail on Tuesday night that the decision of the screening panel will be overturned and their preferred candidate, Chris Daniel will be allowed to contest at the primary.
“Senator (Anietie Okon) is so furious over the decision to screen out Chris. He went to the meet the governor over the issue. The governor has called Udo Ekpenyong (PDP State chairman) and has told him that all the aspirants who bought form in Itu should be allowed to stand for election. It is too humiliating to screen out the preferred aspirant of Senator and Akan (Okon). The right thing will be done and our man (Chris) will defeat Onuk at the party primary)”, said our source.
Meanwhile, Mark Esset is pulling strings to get his favoured aspirant(s) cleared. Though he is rooting for the incumbent Vice Chairman, Idorenyin Inyang, two other aspirants from his camp bought nomination form. They are Chrysancthus Okon and Barr. Cosmos Okon.
Mark’s political opponent, Lady Emem Ibanga emerged as the sole candidate of the party in Nsit Atai. With the situation on ground, the House of Assembly man is making frantic efforts at getting at least one (if not all the 3 aspirants in his camp) cleared to contest the primary against the incumbent chairman, Emem.
He is banking on his vantage position as member in one of the two appeal panels to get his men cleared for the party primary.
“It is a temporary setback for us (referring to the disqualification of their camp’s men). We are fighting back and we will succeed at the field. Emem Ibanga used the Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Felicia Bassey to screen out our people. The Deputy Speaker was a key member of the Chairmanship screening committee for Uyo Senatorial District. You remember that Felicia was one of the persons Emem used to initially stop her suspension by the House of Assembly before she was finally suspended the following day. She was her go-between then and in this case, she is still the go-between. But we have had green light from the appeal committee that our people would be given clean bill of health ahead of the party primary”, said a stakeholder who is in Mark’s camp.
In Ibesikpo, the Uwem Ita Etuk camp has regrouped and has moved to scuttle the plot by Commissioner for Finance, Linus Nkan, Emman Obot, and others to install Mrs Akon Michael Asuquo as the party’s sole candidate.
News reports had it last week Monday that Mrs Akon Michael Asuquo emerged as the consensus candidate of the stakeholders. A week later, the party released the names of three aspirants as those cleared to contest the party’s primary. They are Barr. Edidiong Ekpo, Sylvester George and Mrs Akon Michael Asuquo.
However, the camp of the former state chairman of the party met on Tuesday, dispelling the report of a purported consensus candidate as a ruse.
We understand that majority of stakeholders in the camp are tinkering with the idea of supporting Barr. Edidiong Ekpo or the incumbent chairman, Sylvester George.
The decision of the screening committees may be upturned in some other LGAs across the 3 senatorial districts as stakeholders are mounting pressure on the governor, his close allies and the party leadership to clear their candidates.
We learnt on good authority that some councillorship aspirants who emerged as sole candidates may have opponents in Thursday’s Ward Congress if efforts of the stakeholders yield fruits.
The paper understands that if fresh aspirants are cleared, a new list may not be published by the party reflecting the final names of those given go ahead to contest at the party primary.
“If additional names are cleared, they may just be told to go ahead and contest at the primary. We may not need to release another list of cleared aspirants as that may not be good for the image of the party. What the party may do would be to publish the names of those who are successful at the ward and Local government congresses”, our source hinted.