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Zoning crisis: Political gladiators tear Akwa Ibom LGAs apart

Zoning crisis: Political gladiators tear Akwa Ibom LGAs apart

As Local Government election draws nearer, the political turf across the 31 local government areas of the State is furnished for the clash of the titans. Tension is very high. The reason for heightened tension is not unconnected to the fact that in various Local Government Areas, political gladiators especially within the Peoples Democratic Party want to use the Local Government elections to show who has the highest and strongest political structures and clout in each Local government area. It is gathered that scores are desirous to use the Local Government election to straighten the path of their future political ambition. With zoning as the weapon, the dust of controversies is bubbling and gradually snowballing into cold war. These subtle war waged between various camps within the PDP is gradually tearing apart the fabrics of these Local Government Areas. TheMail Newspaper brings to you insight on how controversies and power play reign supreme in  each of these Local Government Areas.


Rt. Hon. Udo Kierian is supporting the second term ambition of Ubong Idiong. The incumbent Council boss is the elder brother of the First Lady of the State, Mrs. Martha Emmanuel. Meanwhile, the council boss’ younger brother, Samson Idiong is in a different political camp alongside the Chairman of Akwa Ibom State Environmental Protection and Waste Management Agency, Prince Ikim and the PDP Chapter Chairman, Engr. Nsikan Titus Peter. The camp led by Samson Idiong is said to be pushing for a certain Kingsley Frank. But in an alleged move to discredit Frank, the Udo Kierian’s camp is said to be pushing the narrative that the aspirant is a cultist. Fillers from Samson Idiong’s camp suggest that the former Labour Leader is collating signatures for a communique to be issued that Frank is a cultist and should not be entrusted with the leadership of the LGA. Credible sources told our reporter over the weekend that Kierian’s camp is paying N20,000 for the signatures. Lending credence to what one of our sources said, Prince Akpan Ikim wrote on his timeline page: “Signatures at 20 in Oruk Anam”. Few days later he made another update which corroborates the information at TheMail’s disposal. “I support ‘Say No To Cultism in Oruk Anam LGA’. Don’t be a member or sponsor. I feel like breaking this table”, he wrote on his Facebook timeline.

The First Lady’s elder brother, Ubong Idiong has spent 5 years on the saddle as Transition Chairman who was later elected into same office in 2017. It is learnt that no Council Chairman has done more than one term in Oruk Anam (particularly since the return of Democracy 21 years ago). According to those who are well versed in Oruk Anam politics, zoning does not favour the incumbent while his opponent, Kingsley Frank is from the zone which has not produced Chairman for the past 27 years.


In ONNA, the outgoing Commissioner for Works, Akparawa Ephraim Inyang and the Governor’s Protocol chief, Edmond Uffang have continued their political rivalry as the race to produce the PDP Chairmanship candidate gets more intense. Ephraim who is now the Chief of Staff to the Governor has brought out Ubong Uquang while Edmond’s candidate is Akparawa IniAbasi Ekanem. Ephraim and Edmond have not been on the same page (politically and otherwise) almost since the start of the Governor Emmanuel’s administration. Sources from Ephraim’s camp say the Chief of Staff has more stakeholders on his side coupled with his deep pockets which could also help in buying  over more stakeholders. The sources told TheMail that Permanent Secretary of SUBEB, Ezekiel Umoh, current member representing ONNA State Constituency in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Nse Essien, Account General of the State, Pastor Uwem Andrew-Essien and other stakeholders are in the camp of Ephraim Inyang. “Edmond Uffang cannot stand alone to produce the next Chairman. He is alone on this voyage and he would fail woefully. Indo scuttled zoning arrangement by going for second term. So the Chairmanship seat must remain in Nung Ndem. Even if the seat is to go to Oniong, it must go to Oniong East where there are no political office holders. All the political office holders from Oniong are from West. Indo, Ephraim, Dr Ignatius Akpabio (Governor’s personal physician) are all from Oniong West. Political offices must be shared across all the clans”, said one of our sources.

But a senior party stakeholder from ONNA told our correspondent on Monday that Edmond is doing the governor’s bidding with his support of IniAbasi.

“The Governor is not happy with the current Chairman, Imoh Attat. The governor has told some stakeholders that the incumbent chair has come short of the expectation he had of him. He is equally too aloof from the governor which is not supposed to be so. The chairman of the governor’s LGA should be very close to the governor and equally influential in the scheme of things. I can tell you authoritatively that Edmond would not have supported any chairmanship aspirant without properly reading the body language of the governor or even obtaining express directive from him. Truth is, Ephraim wants to contest for senate, so he does not want the Chairmanship seat to reside in Oniong where he is from so that he would be favoured in 2023”, the party official told TheMail.


Former Member of House of Representatives, Prof. Ini Udoka has warned the political leader of INI LGA, Chief Bassey Inuaeyen that if he declares support for the incumbent Council Boss, Hon. Israel Idaisin, zoning would automatically be dead in the area.

Prof Udoka who is an APC Chieftain made his position known via a short address to Chief Inaueyen.

“Good morning Chief. Please I would like to know if you have endorsed Israel Idaisin to go for a second term as Chairman of INI LGA and by so doing deprive Ukwok of her turn to produce the Chairman of the LGA. If you have not endorsed him, what effort have you made to inform your party of the zoning agreement in INI LGA?

“Remember Chief that the zoning of the Chairmanship position for the LGA was formalized in your residence in Ewet Housing Estate. That meeting in your house stated clearly why the chairmanship should remain in Odoro Ikono that year. It was not a case for second term.

“That agreement is what gave Late Boniface Okon Essien the chairmanship after Odoro Ikono. I am not interested in the political party that produces the chairman of the LGA. But I believe the age long tradition of zoning should be maintained in the LGA for peace to prevail. Let it be known that should Idaisin be endorsed by your party for a second term, zoning for all political positions is dead in INI and by extension, Ikono LGA. Today it favors some people, tomorrow may favour other people. Thank you. My name is Elder (Prof) INI Udoka. I was mandated to write the zoning agreement in your house and was signed by representatives of all the Clans and zones in the LGA”, the Professor said in his address to Inuaeyen.

Also weighing in on the situation, Dr. Udeme Nnana, former media chief to Obong Victor Attah said the controversial second term ambition of Israel Idaisin would lead to crisis in the area and should be aborted.

“INI LGA has been stable and peaceful these past years and the selfish ambition of one person, the present Council Chairman who wants to occupy the seat forever should not truncate the peace enjoyed so far in that LGA. Incidentally, I am from the same political zone as Mr. Idaisin, we are also members of the same church but I will always stand for fair play and justice.

” It is the turn of Ukwok to produce the Chairman of INI LGA. Any attempt to impose Mr. Idaisin would instigate violence in INI because Ukwok people won’t accept that marginalization. Nobody from Ukwok has served as Chairman since 1999.

Meanwhile, TheMail has learnt on good authority that the Member Representing INI State Constituency in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Bassey Ekpenyong and the Commissioner for Agriculture and Women Affairs, Dr. Glory Edet have thrown their weight behind the aspiration of Idaisin. According to sources, Iraq wants the LG Council Chair to return because he has reached an agreement with him to support him (Iraq) for his House of Representatives bid come 2023.


In Ikono, the Member Representing Ikono/Ini in the Federal House of Representatives, Hon. Emmanuel Ukpong-udo a.k.a Macaire is pushing for the candidature of perennial aspirant, Mike Ene. Macaire has been at loggerheads with the present Chairman, Itoro Columba and was not favourably disposed to a second term in office for the incumbent. But TheMail gathered authoritatively that the governor had allegedly told a Jurist from the Local Government Area who is dear to his heart that he would grant any demand he makes. The Jurist who is from Ikono has purportedly presented Nyakno Okoibu to the governor as his preferred Chairmanship candidate. The Governor in turn has reportedly adopted Okoibu and presented him to stakeholders for support. The stakeholders said to be queuing behind Okoibu are Senator Aloysius Etok, Barr. Moses Akpan who is the immediate past Chapter Chairman of PDP in Ikono (he may likely be elected as a senior state officer of the party this week), Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Petroleum Matters, Sir Victor Etefia, former Council Boss, Lovina Umoeffa, current Chapter Chairman of PDP, Barr. Ekemini Uba, amongst others. According to pundits, Hon. Columba who is the spokesman of ALGON has done creditably well and deserves a second term in office. He has embarked on projects which have been completed, with some being commissioned by the Governor’s wife but the governor has handed over Okoibu to him to support as chairman. He is said to have taken the governor’s decision in good faith and pledged to do his bidding. The current Secretary of Council, Mrs. Ofonmbuk Michael has also bought PDP nomination form and has told people that the governor’s wife told her to contest. 


The Member Representing Esit Eket/Ibeno State Constituency, Rt. Hon. Usoro Akpanusoh is not reneging on his political fight against the political leader of Esit Eket, Elder Benji Udobia. Benji is solidly supporting the second term aspiration of Hon. Iniobong Robson popularly known as Etebe. Usoro is insisting that Elder Benji and his political allies should respect zoning and allow Zone B to take a shot at the chairmanship seat. Also in Benji’s camp are Barr. Bassey Dan-Abia Jr, who is a former House of Representatives, current chapter chairman of PDP, Elder Eddy Etangnkanga, amongst others.


The Acting Vice Chancellor of Akwa Ibom State University, Prof. Eno James Ibanga is said to be the new Lord of the Manor in Mkpat Enin. Reports emerged last weekend that the new commissioner-designate has propped up a man who is well over 60 years as a replacement for the incumbent Chairman, Ekanem Brown. He is said to have boasted that he would retire the likes of Ekong Sampson and Jerry Akpan from politics. He is reportedly boasting that he would install a new chairman and councilors in all the wards in the LGA. Ibanga has formed an alliance with the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Power, Engr Meyen Etukudo and they are seen as the new force in the LGA while the likes of Ekong Sampson who is the current Commissioner for Environment, Jerry Akpan, Mfon Nkanteen and others are said to have been relegated to the background in the scheme of things.


In the race for the PDP ticket for Chairmanship seat of the LGA, Member of House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Nsikak Ekong is in a lone fight against the likes of Ntufam Elijah Iyak a.k.a Udoeka, Senator Emmanuel Ibokessien, Engr. Etido Inyang, Prof. Nse Essien and some other top political stakeholders. Nsikak Ekong is banking on his relationship with the Governor’s wife to bring out a candidate for the seat against the second term bid of incumbent council chair, Unyime Etim. The Council Boss has the support of Udoeka who has the ears of the governor. The Ntufam is one of the kitchen cabinet members of the governor who is influential in the government. Information at the disposal of TheMail is that the governor has given nod to Unyime’s candidature having seen roll call of the stakeholders backing him.

A source who is in the know of the political dynamics of Ikot Ekpene told our reporter on Monday that Unyime Etim’s candidature is a done deal.

“The governor has accepted Unyime. That is the true state of things. Udoeka was able to convince the governor on why Unyime should return. Unyime made a lot of sacrifices during the 2019 election. Even the state government had written off Ikot Ekpene as one of the LGAs that APC would take. Unyime was made mouth-watering offer by Akpabio to join APC. In fact, they were too sure that Unyime would join APC because he is seen as Don Etim’s boy. Don almost singlehandedly gave him the PDP ticket in 2017. But he rebuffed the huge offers and stayed put to support the PDP in 2019. Giving him the ticket is a reward for loyalty”, said our source.

Others who are keen on clinching the PDP ticket are Akan-Mary Udoh, Esq and Samuel Ukutt, a relative of the First Lady of the state.

Our source added “If it were when Sir Emem Akpabio were in charge of politics of Akwa Ibom, it would have been a smooth victory for Barr. Udoh. Also, Samuel does not enjoy support from his home front. He is not in terms with Otuekong Ukutt. In fact Otuekong Ukutt is not much interested on playing a major part on who becomes the Chairman. He wants to nominate the Vice Chairman. Nsikak Ekong is supporting another candidate other than “Sammy”. 

“Sam is banking his aspiration on the support of the First Lady. He would have simply waited till 2023 when the House of Assembly Seat might come to Amayam. Amayam has never produced House of Assembly member. So he would have made a strong case for himself if he waited till then.”

N/B: As the paper was about to go to bed, TheMail gathered last night that all the aspirants in the race have stepped down for Unyime Etim. In a meeting held on Monday at the Ikot Ekpene residence of Senator Emmanuel Ibokessien, the incumbent chairman was adopted as the consensus candidate.

In his reaction, Akan-Mary Udo thanked his supporters for the support, stating that the decision by the stakeholders to make sure Unyime Etim returns is awkward.

“Thanks guys for everything, we proved our mettle. We are beset with a systematic paradigm paralysis. Just out of a meeting with the stakeholders, they insist the incumbent returns, I find this rather awkward and politically inexpedient given the fact he comes from a village laden with 6 current political office holders. I wish them well. #WeMove”, he wrote on his Facebook timeline.


The Political Leader of Nsit Ibom L.G.A, Otuekong Idongesit Nkanga have moved against the second term ambition of Hon. Eric Akpan. Eric Akpan was amongst the stakeholders who recently passed a vote of confidence on Nkanga for nominating his blood brother, Amanam Nkanga to the governor to be appointed as Special Adviser in the state exco. Even though it was morally and politically inconvenient to openly endorse an obvious nepotism, according to sources close to the Council boss, with a second term in sight, he did that to save his political future. This is as Nkanga Snr has allegedly backed a female youth leader, Lady Edna Edwin Daniel to replace Eric as Council boss. But Nkanga has reportedly denied being the brain behind the aspiration of Edna, saying it is his wife who is supporting her. We learnt that the likes of former ALGON Chair, Victor Umondak took Edna to his friend, Billionaire businessman, Akan Udofia to get his endorsement. Akan Udofia in turn had reportedly discussed with the governor on the idea of Edna being given the PDP ticket but the governor has reportedly said Eric should be given a second term ticket. With the level of name-dropping going on in the heat of serious politicking, the purported endorsement of Eric by the governor has not been independently confirmed by TheMail Newspaper. Former Speaker, Rt. Hon. Anietie Etuk is also said to be against Eric Akpan’s ambition. 


Former State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Uwem Ita Etuk and his political son, Aniekan Uko are battling Commissioner For Finance, Linus Nkan, former influential figure in Obong Attah’s Government, Emman Obot (a.k.a Amity), former House of Assembly Member in the old Cross River State, T.O. Akpan, former House of Assembly Member, Eyakeno Etukudo over where the chairmanship seat should be zoned to.

Linus Nkan alongside current LG Chairman of Council, Sylvester George, state officer of the party, Etetim Ubom are all from the same ward 3. Last week, some stakeholders met and voted that the chairmanship seat should be retained in Ward 3 where the incumbent chairman comes from. Apart from T. O Akpan, Emman Obot, Linus Nkan, Eyakeno Etukudo, others who attended the meeting where the decision was taken are Pastor Uwem Etim, PDP Chapter Chairman, Hon. Iniobong Ekpenyong, former Council boss, Hon. Ofonmbuk Ukim, Board Member, Hon. Ettetim Ubom, PDP State Officer, Hon. Ita Okon Ekpo, Former LG Transition Chairman, Hon. John Job, Board Member, Hon. Envoy Johsua Ekpo – former LG Transition Chairman, Hon. Mfon Eka, Board Member, Elder Emmanuel Bassey Ukim, Former PDP Chapter Chairman, Hon. Anthony Okon Akpan, Former Councilor, Dr. Sabastian Ibanga, and Hon Stephen Ben, former Councilor.

But in his response (which is believed to have the backing of Uwem Ita Etuk), Aniekan Uko who is a former Speaker of the House of Assembly said that the LGA Executive Committee has not met to take a position on zoning.

“The Local Government Area Executive Committee which is empowered by the Party’s constitution in “Part IV Section 2 (a) to identify and resolve political, social and economic issues of concern to the Local Government Area” have not met to discuss the zoning of Chairmanship for the forthcoming Local Government Elections.

“The members that constitute the Local Government Executive Area Caucus of the Party have not also met as empowered in Part IV Section 17 (sub) 2 of the Party’s Constitution to ratify any decision in regards to zoning of the Chairmanship position to Asutan Ward 3.

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“There was no Chapter Officer neither was there any Ward Chairman in that meeting.

“The attendees of that meeting were only from Asutan Clan which does not represent the interest of the Local Government Area.

“It will be unfair for that “Faction” to zone the Chairmanship position in the Local Government Area the second time to Asutan Ward 3 where the current Commissioner For Finance, Mr. Nsikan Linus Nkan hails from.

“As the Member representing the entire people of Ibesikpo Asutan State Constituency, I disassociate myself from such injustice as a loyal party man that is working for the interest of the party.

“I uphold the Supremacy of the Party Constitution which motto and slogan is “Justice, Unity and Progress” vis-à-vis “Power To The People”

“It is sad to see a certain cabal because of their selfish interests trying to play on the collective interest of Ibesikpo Asutan people”, Aniekan Uko stated via a rejoinder  posted on his Facebook timeline.


Nsit Ubium political gladiators are locking horns in a battle over where to zone the chairmanship seat to. TheMail gathered that Captain Iniobong Ekong (retd) wants the Chairmanship seat zoned to Nsit where he is from. The incumbent Chairman, Udeme Sylvanus is from Nsit. The argument of those who are with  ‘Ikwa Afang’ on this matter is that Ubium part of Nsit Ubium is already holding the State House of Assembly seat through Senator Effiong Bob’s son, Otobong. According to sources, Ekong popularly known as ‘Ikwa Afang’ wants to impose his sister’s husband as the next chairman. Stakeholders of Ubium South are saying that those who agree with Ikwa Afang are hypocritical because Onofiok Luke was House of Assembly member (2011-2019) while Udeme Sylvanus was Council boss from 2017-2020. They argued that Onofiok and Udeme who are both from Nsit held elected offices simultaneously while Ubium was without any office. They said it is not out of place for them to equally hold both Chairmanship and House of Assembly seats simultaneously, as what is good for the goose is good for the gander. The people of Ubium South say they have thrown their weight behind the aspiration of Owoidighe Ibiok, who is believed to have the backing of governorship hopeful, Udom Inoyo. Onofiok Luke is said to have washed his hands off the internal politics of Ubium, but he is reported to have said that if Ikwa Afang insists that the seat must be retained in Nsit, then the current occupant of the seat, Udeme Sylvanus must equally be retained.


The Chairmanship tussle in Essien Udim might put Governor Udom Emmanuel on dilemma on which of the camps he needs to support. The LGA is the home of the governor’s former political godfather, Senator Godswill Akpabio and plenty stakeholders made sacrifices by staying put in PDP to support the governor for a second term. The likes of Prince Ukpong Akpabio, who is the Senator’s cousin, Ese Umoh, Aluko, Chief Michael Afangideh (OON), Elder Raphael Isobara, amongst others. But the forthcoming Chairmanship election has sharply divided Essien Udim along interest lines. Commissioner for Commerce, Trade and Investment, Prince Ukpong Akpabio and House of Assembly member, Hon. Esse Umoh have thrown their weight behind a member of their cabal, Aluko. The likes of Afangideh and Itai Afe Annang, Okuku (Dr) Pius Effiong Esideh III alongside other senior elders in the LGA have pitched tent with the incumbent council boss, Elder Raphael Isobara. Many school of thoughts are of the opinion that it would be hard for the governor to turn down the request of Esideh and Afangideh to make Isobara return for a second term. Those who are advancing this argument are of the opinion that the governor has massive respect for the duo and would support their candidate. On the other hand, Prince Akpabio controls bulk of the structure, especially the youths hence the governor would be in a dilemma on which of the camps to yield to their demands. Although the Elders of the Local Government Area are not favourably disposed to Aluko’s chairmanship aspiration, a credible source has hinted TheMail that the Governor has a soft spot for Aluko especially owing to the role he played in Essien Udim election. It is reported that the Governor had on one occasion held Aluko in the presence of some stakeholders and handed him to Chief Afangideh to be treated as his son.


Crisis may erupt in the volatile LG of Ukanafun as the incoming State Chairman of PDP, Udo Ekpenyong is allegedly bent on installing his Personal Assistant, Godwin Inyieng as the Party’s chairmanship candidate for the forthcoming Local Government elections in the State. Inyieng who is a journalist is the current political leader of Northern Afaha 1, Ward 6. Udo Ekpenyong’s bid allegedly enjoys the support of former House of Assembly member, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Akpan. Akpan, a former Education Commissioner is said to be supporting Inyieng because they come from the same village. Former Transition Chairman, Nsikanabasi Umoekpo who is currently an aide to the governor has also queued behind Udo’s choice. Close allies of the Member Representing Ukanafun/Oruk Anam Federal Constituency, Hon. Unyime Idem has verbally supported Udo’s candidate but his support may not be 100 percent as he is said to be uncomfortable with the choice of Inyieng.  

Those who are against Udo’s choice are political leaders such as former House of Reps Member, Rt. Hon. Eno Akpan and State Party Officer, Saturday Akpan. The duo, amongst others are said to support Uduak Essien. The incumbent, Prince Uko Idiong has purportedly withdrawn from the race as the seat has been zoned to Northern Afaha which favours Uduak Essien and Godwin Inyieng. Ukanafun people are known to be very religious when it comes to zoning.


The plot to emasculate Senator Bassey Albert Akpan ahead of 2023 might have begun in earnest as his key loyalist, Ekomabasi Akpan has been zoned out of the chairmanship race. Ekom was installed by Obong Bassey Albert a.k.a OBA in 2017 and is vying for a second term. Ekom is from Northern Ibiono. But stakeholders in their numbers, over the weekend zoned the chairmanship seat to Southern Ibiono. Speaking on behalf of the stakeholders, House of Assembly Member Representing Ibiono Ibom State Constituency, Hon Godwin Ekpo said “That as progressives politicians in Ibiono Ibom, we stand for justice and equity. In order to achieve this, we hereby reaffirm a single term of three (3) years tenure for the five geopolitical zones on the Council Chairmanship in the Local Government”, he read out the communique on behalf of the stakeholders. Ostensibly referring to OBA, Inyangmme and others in his camp, The Commissioner for Science and Technology, Dr. Iniobong Essien who served as the Chairman of the five-man committee on zoning frowned at how some persons try to ridicule the sensibility and purpose of the committee which is a misrepresentation of Ibom Ibom people as those who honour and make their words their bond. Others who attended the stakeholders meeting include Rt. Hon. Ime Okon (immediate past Member, AKHA) who is the Secretary of the committee on zoning.

Meanwhile, the political leader of the area, Ntieyong Inyangmme who was installed through the instrumentality of OBA has said that it was agreed that status quo should be maintained on where the chairmanship seat should reside.

“The (elders/stakeholders) meeting resolved that since the sharing and occupation of the two key political offices in the Local Government Area: Chairman of Council and Ibiono Ibom State Constituency seats are based on zoning, the occupation of the two political positions should be for a period of two consecutive terms per political zone. Consequently, that Ibiono Ibom Northern political zone should take her second term for the Local Government Chairmanship position in the forthcoming 2020 Local Government elections following which the position should rotate to Ibiono Ibom Southern political zone for two terms consecutively after which will move to another political zone”, Inyangmme stated via a communique he signed which he stated was only issued following a meeting of Ibiono Ibom LGA elders/stakeholders held on Thursday, 23rd July, 2020.


Emem Ibanga, the incumbent Chairman Nsit Atai LG Council would have to battle for her political survival once again, just few weeks after being suspended and reinstated as council boss. Her political arch-enemy, Mark Esset would be hoping he would be lucky this time in his bid to emasculate her politically. Mark Esset who has the support of the incumbent Commissioner from the area, Otuekong Raphael Bassey, some councilors and other stakeholders, while Ibanga on her part, would be hoping that she would be one of the beneficiaries of the governor’s wife 35% slot. She is said to also enjoy the support of some of her councilors. She will be slugging it out with Barr. Cosmos Okon, former Chapter Chairman – Chrysancthus Okon and incumbent Vice Chairman, Idorenyin Inyang who are from Mark Esset’s camp. 

To be continued…

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