Hon. Akan Eyo was a former member of the House of Representatives and a Senatorial aspirant for the 2023 General election. He speaks on the issues surrounding the next chairmanship of Etim Ekpo Local Government Area, where he hails from, among other salient matters.
By December, there will be a transition to a new government in the 31 Local Government Areas in Akwa I on State. In Etim Ekpo Local Government Area, there are five clans rotating power. Which clan is the next in line?
I thank God we have democracy and then I hope we follow the constitution properly. I am one person that believes that the sitting chairmen should be on seat while an election is conducted for another set of administrators. That gap called transition is unconstitutional and I pray that the outgoing Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel should leave that as a legacy for the incoming Governor. I am from Uruk Clan in Etim Ekpo and fortunately, this is their turn to produce a council chairman. In Uruk, we have lots of villages and between three to four wards. From any of them, we will pick a qualified man or woman to represent us as chairman. It is our turn to produce the next chairman of Etim Ekpo.
Why do you insist that it is the turn of Uruk Clan, do you have facts to back up your claim?
I am not insisting, I am saying it authoritatively. Out of the five clans, the number five is not yet gazetted, it is a political clan, and all four clans have gone twice on the elected chairmanship. The present chairman is from Utut Annang, his name is Mr Ime Afia. Hon. Engr. Akanimo Edet a former elected chairman is from Utut Annang before him, Obong Clan which produced Mr Udeme Eduo as chairman had earlier produced Barr. Chris Okorie as chairman. Before then, Uruk Clan produced Mfon Idung as chairman and nobody doubled it for the clan, Mfon Idung’s emergence was through the parliamentary system, a situation where he contested for the councillorship position first and later emerged as Head of the Council. It was not through the presidential system and I think in reality Uruk is yet to produce a Chairman chosen by Etim Ekpo people via the presidential system as currently practised.
We have had a chairman from Ikono Clan by the name of Udot Jack and was doubled with Obong J. B. Afia from the same Clan. In all I have said, the only Clan that has a semi-chairman yet to be doubled is Uruk Clan. Thus in the interest of peace, justice, fairness and equity, it is the turn of Uruk Clan. Utu Clan have had their turn, Barr. Ekpo Udoka was Chairman and doubled by Barr. Emmanuel Moses Enoidem and that completed the circle. The one that remains is Uruk Clan and we are not begging but appealing that justice be done. It’s the turn of the Uruk Clan.
I am prompted to grant this interview after reading the historic facts written by some youths in this regard that it is the time of the Uruk Clan.
Some people believe that the Uruk Clan is already overloaded with a member of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and other government officials. What is your opinion on this?
This is not the first time we are having an issue of that nature, let me cite one example for you. When Barr. Ekpo Udoka from Utu Clan was the Chairman, the late Barr. Iniobong Ekanem was a member of the House of Assembly from the same Utu Clan. In Uruk Clan what we have had was a semi chairman not even a full executive chairman. It is noteworthy to inform you that our House of Assembly seat belongs to two different local government areas and doesn’t count in determining the zoning of the chairmanship slots within the clans in Etim Ekpo. There was a time Uruk had nothing in Etim Ekpo but Ikono Clan had everything. There was also a time Utu Clan had everything and we all stayed peacefully. When the chairman finally comes to Uruk, I will advise them to go to other areas as my area is already loaded. There are other villages with qualified young men and women in other parts of the Uruk Clan.
Have you as a stakeholder in the politics of Etim Ekpo zeroed your mind on any person for the office?
We are just starting this advocacy and the issue of a particular candidate does not come in yet but with time it will be considered. We have young men and women in Wards 5 and 6 even from my ward. What I will assure you is that when the time is ripe, we will pick a very credible and reliable fellow for the position. A candidate with a good and respectable background. We will do thorough background checks before presenting the person to the people of Etim Ekpo for election. She/he must be a credible person but for now, we are on advocacy for fairness and equity.
We have it from reliable sources that a big politician in your area is already interested in producing the next council chairman. Who is the politician? Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem?
Let me say that it is in the realm of speculation. Let me tell you what I like about Mr Enoidem, he is a man that likes superior argument. One example was when we were to pick a caretaker chairman for Etim Ekpo, Enoidem wanted an Utu man but we sat in a caucus meeting and he saw that it was time for Uruk and he gave me the slot and I nominated the man that served in that capacity. Enoidem is a man who loves superior argument and I don’t know what will make him change, if he does I will be very surprised. He hasn’t told me that and I know he will not look at me and tell me that it is not the turn of Uruk Clan. The Enoidem I know will not say that, because facts are sacred. It is that caucus meeting in which he saw reasons with me that threw up Barr. Mbetong Okpongette as chairman.
Some people believe there will be no credible election at the third tier of government if the state electoral commission continues conducting elections for local councils. Your thoughts?
It is the suspicion of Nigerians. It is just like state police which people believe Governors will use to their advantage if established; my brother once the system and institutions are strong, there is nothing to worry about. The last election saw massive participation of the youths who desired change and a functional country. Buhari after voting made a statement that the 2023 election has taught him that voters are becoming more sophisticated and that politicians should be careful.
Politicians should be very careful, in all we do whether the election is handled by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) or Akwa Ibom State Independent Electoral Commission (AKISIEC), the important thing is to do the right thing. In the coming local government election, we must get it right and ensure that the will of the people prevails. What we need is trust building and the people will not want to be toyed with again.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) used to control the Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District but suffered a humiliating defeat in the last election. What is the cause in your opinion?
You have stayed here for a long time, what do you think caused it? (Long laughter) I have said we must get it right by doing the right thing. We should stop blackmail, coercion, and lies and being too systemic. When you leave your voters behind, consequences will come. PDP is not hated but there were mistakes. As a party elder, I will not point them out here but I will advise that we start doing the right things because the electorates are becoming sophisticated.
Do you think it is still necessary to have local council administration when all they do is pay salaries with no tangible projects?
My take is that the constitution is faulty in allowing local government areas with elected councillors to still be attached to the apron of State Houses of Assembly. Their problem starts with their losing their independence to the State Assemblies. The third tier which is the most important arm of government and nearer to the people has no independence, secondly, the elected chairman with the current system is more answerable to their godfathers than the people. People should demand accountability from their council chairmen. The third tier is extremely important and should not be abolished but rather reformed. Sadly, today we have councillors that cannot remove erring council chairmen who are only at the mercy of the State Assemblies. The question today is why do we have the councillors in the first place? It is unfortunate.
What is your message to the people of Etim Ekpo? As the next council election approaches?
Well, I thank God for His mercies because I was a former member of the House of Representatives. With all modesty and humility, I am the highest office holder from here. I advise our people to calm down as there will be justice and equity in choosing the Council chairman. The chairmanship will be going to Uruk Clan and they will come up with the best candidate for the people of Etim Ekpo. Whomever we send will constantly be admonished to remember why he was elected, which is to serve the people. This is my first statement on the issue of zoning and I challenge any other leader to come up with his position. Etim Ekpo will come out stronger. What we are advocating is about justice, equity and fairness.