Random Musings On A’Ibom 2023

By Kenneth Jude


The battle for the Akwa Ibom State Government House is still three years away, but political hustings and undercurrents appear to have taken a life of their own – even if subtle.

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Already, many have taken their stand over where their loyalty will lie when hostilities get underway. Others are cautious, calculative, even undecided over which candidate they’ll throw their weight behind.

Senator Bassey Albert

The governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, has demonstrated some level of reservedness, not to say remarkable comportment over his successor. It all appears the man does not want to mingle the 2023 succession battle with governance, at least for now, given that he is barely a year into his second term in office.

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But whispers in some quarters indicate that the governor may be interested over who takes after him. Though no name has been dropped as his most preferred successor, news from the grapevine however indicates that Mr. Udom Inoyo, the Vice Chairman of ExxonMobil, may be the governor’s choice given his rich credentials from the private sector and his relationship with the governor.

Mr Udom Inoyo

As was the case when the current governor burst onto the political scene before he was made Secretary to the State Government by his now estranged godfather, Senator Godswill Akpabio, those sympathetic to the unhidden aspiration of the Nsit Ubium man have since hit town with long canticles and deodorized articles all tailored towards reeling out the fine qualities of the imposing oil chief.

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While some of the pieces have, in a way, made many to sit up and pay attention to the man, some others have inadvertently tended to ridicule, not to say make caricature of the man’s aspiration, thereby raising a firestorm of criticisms from the ever perceptive public.

Consider the recent picture of the man Inoyo shown standing with some student leaders with a demeaning and utterly laughable write-up implying that Mr. Inoyo loves youths so much that he does not only interact with them, but is only magnanimous enough to give out his mobile phone number.

Straightaway, the post, accompanied by a picture of Inoyo garbed in an all-white fitting native attire, went thus: “Barr Udom Uko Inoyo giving out his contact to youths”. Expectedly, a rash of comments followed with majority asking questions that bordered on whether the number will even connect when dialled, others, appearing more pessimistic, said outright, that the giver of the contact will not take calls even when it rings. Some comments, one could deduce, came from similar experiences they have had with public officials who many accuse have a great affinity with not taking calls.

But away from the searing reactions that trailed that post that reeked with infantility, promoters of Udom Inoyo should be more circumspect, trade even guarded as they make spirited efforts to market their product as in order yo bring him to public consciousness.

Truth be told, the 2023 race will not be a stroll in the park for any politician. It matters little if one is the sitting governor’s choice. It’ll be more of a test of popularity, connection with the people overtime than brandishing a litany of academic accomplishments whether from Harvard or any other top rate institution.

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Mr Akan Okon

How Governor Udom Emmanuel ends his tenure will, to a reasonable extent, determine if someone from the private sector will have the keys to the Government House firmly in his kitty take over from him. Take it or not, having spent almost five years in office, keen observers know if Emmanuel has done enough to warrant them support a candidate he’ll bring forth or look the other way. As governor, there’s no doubt that he has loyalists – some of whom will stand by and with him to push for a successor; but they’ll surely be other competing interests – those that will choose to, against the governor’s directive, support another candidate. Politics, after all, is a game of deep-rooted interest.

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It’ll be an interesting contest given that it is an election that will present fresh aspirants with nobody having the advantage of running as an incumbent. So, it’ll be more of hoisting one’s antecedents before the electorate than telling tales that sound both strange and pedestrian to an ever curious public.

Having turned foes with the man on whose coat tails he rode to power, Governor Udom Emmanuel may likely toe the path of caution than coercion when he eventually makes his choice of a successor public. This is more so considering the ugly fate that has befallen past governors and the successors they, to a degree, imposed on the people.

The one in Edo State between Godwin Obaseki and the diminutive but hyperactive Adams Oshiomhole where both men are now at daggers drawn is a case in point. That of Udom and Akpabio is no news. We also saw it between Orji Uzor Kalu and Theodore Orji, Ganduje and Kwankwaso had a fair share of their squabbles, Ortom of Benue and Akume are still feuding, it’s not also rosy between the soft-spoken Peter Obi and Willie Obiano, the list goes on.

With the pattern Nigeria’s politics is assuming, it appears that the politics of godfather and godson is fast fading away if not totally becoming unfashionable. This in part is attributable to how politically aware people have become, the rise in knowledge and the pressure that often confronts a godson who is condemned to massage the ego of his benefactor, while combining it with the need of providing quality governance to majority of the people.

Fully aware of how tortuous his road to the Hilltop Mansion was, Governor Emmanuel will likely grapple with some dilemma over the way and manner he’ll go about his successor. He’ll be faced inevitably with loyalists driven purely by selfish motives and those who can’t imagine life away from the wealthy walls of power and a horde of others who stood with him in 2019 but who will definitely have their minds elsewhere, hence advise the governor to step aside and allow the popular man to take the trophy. The governor will have his hands full to tipping point.

How he manages the interests, his choice of successor and his quest to leave enduring legacies behind when he bids farewell to the top chair, will either elevate him or render otiose and ineffectual the story of his eight-year sojourn as governor of oil rich Akwa Ibom State.

To also win the hearts of a good number of people, the governor must sit up and strive to make his remaining years in power better than what he has brought to bear so far. In building infrastructure, industries and all, Gov. Emmanuel should also be mindful of those who worked to ensure his success in 2019. Are they smiling or frowning? Do they harbour any regrets for sticking out their necks for him? What genuine efforts have been made to keep that winning structure intact? Or has it become the government of some people, for few people and for select people?

From whichever prism it is viewed from, what is certain is that the successor of Governor Emmanuel will, to a large extent, be determined by the people. It’ll not be one person forcing anybody on all. The level of awareness now is high such that imposition has increasingly become an impossible task to accomplish without devastating repercussions. Udom is right to be interested in who succeeds him, but he can only present such a one hoping the people will align with him, but he’ll shoot himself in the foot by attempting to force his way through.

Though three years is still far away from today, but in politics, time is of the essence in all things hence one isn’t surprised that people are already making subtle moves to pave their path and smoothen it ahead of 2023.

But of utmost importance at this material time is for all hands to be on deck, support Governor Udom Emmanuel to finish on a high by completing ongoing projects, especially roads and other infrastructure that will form part of markers upon which his eight-year tenure as governor will be analysed, scrutinized and evaluated.

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