The state primaries for the election of the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may have come and gone but the elections conducted in Esit Eket Local Government Council of Akwa-Ibom is still generating ripples what with the disenfranchisement of qualified members of the party from standing in the elections for positions of their choice.
The decision of the PDP leader Elder Benjamin Udobia, his godson the Executive Chairman of Esit Eket Iniobong Robson and a former member of the House of Representatives Bar. Ime Okon Dan alias Bar Bassey Dan Abia Jnr to disenfranchise qualified aspirants to various elective offices in the area by not allowing them to purchase, fill and return nomination forms and participate in the congresses for various offices in the local government as guaranteed in the party’s constitution is behind.
The action of these people prompted some of the aggrieved aspirants, Usen Eyo Etteudo, Uyotta Friday Assam-Eyo, Ime Robson,Glen Obionwa, pastor Godwin Ediyang, Imoh Edet Jonah, Isangededighi Etim Immosan,Albert Obinwa and 186 others to head to the Federal High Court Uyo Division to challenge whether by virtue of the 2017 Constitution of the PDP (as amended) and Article 1.3(111)(1V)(V) Article 4(a) Article 8.1(b)(c) &(d) Article 8.2 and Article 10.0a-h particularly d of the guidelines the 1st and 2nd defendants (PDP and its Akwa-Ibom State Chairman Paul Ekpo) and its wards congresses coordinating committees, local government coordinating committees and state coordinating committees can validly hold its wards and local government congresses Esit Eket local government area and State congresses in Akwa-Ibom in general contravention of the mandatory provisions of the guidelines made pursuant to Section 49(3) of the Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) (as amended) thereby excluding the claimants from the exercising their rights to contest for offices of their choice.
The insinuation that the crisis presently rocking the PDP Esit Eket local government area is tied to the third term ambitions of the member representing Esit Eket Ibeano State Constituency of Akwa State Rt. Hon Usoro Akpanusoh is far from the truth and not only a distortion of facts but a blatant falsehood as the major issue that is fueling the crisis in the area is the total refusal by the aforementioned trio, Elder Benjamin Udobia the Local Government Chairman Iniobong Robson and Ime Dan Abia junior to respect the zoning formula that has been in place in the area since 1999.
The sponsored write-ups against Akpanusoh aimed at painting him as desperately looking for a selfish third agenda while the opposite is the case being the inordinate ambition of Iniobong Robson to perpetuate himself in office as the local government chairman beyond 2020 is at the root of the crisis.
It is instructive to note that all the brouhaha is geared towards the perpetuation of Robson as the local government chairman in defiance to the age long rotation of the Chairmanship position in Esit Eket local government area. The chairmanship position rotates amongst the three geographical zones and Robson having served from 2015, 2017(6years) and until date ought to vacate the seat for another zone to take a shot at the chairmanship slot.
But owing to the highhandedness of the self-acclaimed political leader of the zone Benjamin Udobia who has in the last twenty years held sway as the de facto leader who determines who gets what appointment or contract in total disregard of the agreement reached by leaders of Esit Eket local government area. He is accused of diverting the 12.7 kilometer road project awarded by His Excellency Governor Udom Emmanuel to his village while totally neglecting other villages that make up the area. This development has made the people from Esit Eket area to accuse the governor of neglecting the area irrespective of the fact that Udobia has been cornering the dividends of democracy meant for the area alone.
Udobia’s selfish attitude it is said to have prompted the former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission [NDDC] Sir Bassey Dan Abia [KJW] Chief BAssey Essien former Speaker of the Akwa-Ibom State House of Assembly, Engr Imabong Inyang former State representative NDDC, late Ibang Bassey Itang former Executive Director Finance and Administration (EDFA) NDDC, Bar Mike Mike Eyo former Permanent Secretary Government House among other prominent leaders of the area to decamp to the opposition All Progressives Congress [APC].
It is on record that the first Chairmanship zoning to Edo in zone A was done at the behest of Udobia, as this was to favour his younger brother Late Hon. Imo Udobia who emerged chairman when major more qualified contenders like Dr Inyang Dan Abia and Hon Emem Udoho were in the race under the PDP. The late Hon Victor BAssey Isangedighe and late Hon Ibanga Etang were later to emerge as chairmen subsequently, thus bringing to a close the first cycle of the zoning arrangement.
Rather than face the facts the continued false accusations against Hon. Akpanusoh of romancing with the APC Udobia and his cohorts should first of all purge themselves of the deceit of foisting Hon Dan Abia as the Secretary of the PDP congresses committee in Esit Eket.
How would the party faithfuls feel when Dan Abia who decamped to the APC and abandoned Governor Udom during the campaigns only to return Nicodemously back to the PDP on the eve of the elections having noticed that his new party the APC was not going to win the polls.
He who comes to equity must come with clean hands, it is on record that the original results monitored by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) during the ward congresses were doctored and falsified with names of their stooges and cronies while the real winners of the ward congresses were left in the cold.
According to one the aggrieved party members who are in court Usen Eyo Etteudo “we are in court to seek redress and to save our party in Esit Eket from collapse. We wish to state emphatically that we cannot allow a troika to decide the fate of the PDP in Esit Eket. How can one man disregard other stakeholders of the party and think that he can impose the state officers, chapter chairman, ward chairmen and other party officers on all of us. This is in total disregard of Senator Etang Edet Umoyo and Rt Hon Usoro Akpanusoh who have no imput whatsoever in 17-man Exco.
“It is very laughable and ridiculous accusing Hon Akpanusoh of sponsoring and instituting a court case using proxies, who are these proxies? We have a former Secretary of Esit Eket local government area, former PDP chapter chairman, among many others so they should chasing shadows and address the issues” he added.
He maintained that for true peace to return to Esit Eket PDP, zone B should produce the chairman of the local government in 2020 and that the original winners of the wards and local government congresses in Esit Eket should be acknowledged and Hon Imo Jonah recognized as the authentic chapter chairman of the PDP in Esit Eket, and that the PDP political leader should shun nepotism and clannish sentiments and that the 14.7 kilometer road project should be made to touch every community in the area.
Reacting to the development a former Council Sectretay in Esit Eket Local Government Area Isangedighe Imossan stated that “as we count down to the December 2020 local government election in Akwa Ibom state, there is a grim possibility that the political crisis which has which has rocked Esit Eket local government area for sometime now would not only linger but propitiously escalate, given the current developments in the area. Rather than seek a convergence of ideas towards a forging a lasting solution to the persistent political imbroglio in the area, the elders and political leadership in Esit Eket are digging deep, stoking the fire of discord, all to further their selfish interests. Just recently, they went a step further in their devious scheming by deploying non- indigenous mercenary writers to throw mud and disparage dissenting voices of reason in the area.
“Their main target, as usual, is the honorable member representing Esit Eket/Ibeno in the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt.Hon Usoro Akpanusoh and other indigenes of Esit Eket who dare to challenge the status quo by insisting on fairness, justice and equity in the sharing and distribution of political appointments, projects and amenities approved for the area by Governor Udom Emmanuel” he said.
He noted that “this should not come as a surprise as Hon. Akpanusoh recently exposed the PDP political leader of Esit Eket, Elder Ben Udobia as the arrowhead of the divisive politics in the area. The Assembly man had pointedly accused Elder Udobia of undisguised nepotism in the distribution and sharing of political appointments and projects allocated to the area by His Excellency the Governor.
“Hon. Akpanusoh cited instances where the political leader had recommended only his brothers and children for state appointments, even as he, Elder Udobia, unilaterally diverted 12.7 kilometers of the 14.7kilometer road for the area, to his village. Using blackmail as a tool, Elder Udobia is said to be solely responsible for the exodus of prominent PDP members in Esit Eket to the opposition APC. And what was their crime? Attempting to challenge Elder Udobia’s vice grip on the politics of Esit Eket.
He pointed out that “among the casualties of Elder Udobia’s ruthless blackmail machine are a former speaker of the state house of assembly, Barrister Bassey Essien, Elder Bassey Dan Abia Snr, Chief Ibanga Etang of blessed memory, and Senator Etang Umoyo. Others include, but not limited to Chief O. J. Asubob, Engr. Imaobong Inyang and Barrister Mike Eyo. Now, with the agitation by Akpanusoh and other well meaning people of Esit Eket that the chairmanship position of the local government be zoned to another area in keeping with the existing arrangement, the political leader has revved up his blackmail machine to do battle with the ‘dissidents’.
“The current narrative in the camp of the political leader is that Honorable member is hobnobbing with the opposition APC, with the ultimate aim of defecting. But such insinuation is not only naive and infantile because Hon Akpanusoh as a ranking member of the House of Assembly and a stakeholder in the PDP is fully aware of the consequences of any such move, and has nothing to gain from it. It is worth having it on record that, on account of Elder Udobia’s divide-and- rule leadership, Esit Eket is the only local government area that is yet to officially meet with Governor Udom Emmanuel as a collective since the coming of the Governor five years ago. Elder Ben Udobia uses his connection in high places to effectively block any such attempt, as he prefers to be lone voice that must be heard on Esit Eket issues.
Recall also that Esit Eket was in the news for the wrong reasons when, courtesy of the political leader, a serving two-time member of the state house of Assembly and stakeholder in PDP, the ruling party in the state, Usoro Akpanusoh was audaciously schemed out of the last local government congress of the party. As presently constituted, the Assemblyman has no representation in the 17-member chapter executive of the party in Esit Eket.
Agreed, there were some disagreements and clash of interest during the congress, as also witnessed in other local government areas; but in those other places, their political leaders rose to the occasion and got the issues in contention amicably resolved. But not in Esit Eket where the political leader brazenly took sides and further complicated the problem which eventually led to litigation by aggrieved party faithful. There is a consensus among the good people of Esit Eket that the time has come for His Excellency the Governor, as the leader of the PDP in the state, as well as the party hierarchy at the state and national levels to intervene to save the PDP in Esit Eket and the entire people of the area from further political and socio-economic setbacks.
Going forward it could be discerned that the crisis rocking the PDP in Esit Eket is founded on greed, selfishness and breach of age long zoning arrangement and that the fragile peace would return to the area once justice and equity is brought to bear in the conduct of the last PDP congresses in the area. A stitch in time saves nine!
We have been shielding the atrocity/ evil of elder Udobia in Esit Eket in the last 20 years and we can no longer hide our feelings hence voicing it out. Our Governor have to recuse him out of Esit Eket PDP.
Isangedighe Imossan, Former PDP chapter/ Council Secretary Esit Eket L.G.A Writes From Uyo