* Senator Albert
Now that spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom State, Comrade Ini Ememobong, has cleared the air on the issue of zoning preparatory to the 2019 elections, one of the questions I will have to ponder on in the days ahead is whether Obong Bassey Albert (a.k.a OBA), the senator representing Uyo in the National Assembly, can scatter the Uyo senatorial succession, or even push his way to win a second term as he and his cronies are currently negotiating to get.
Comrade Ememobong, during an interview on Inspiration Radio, on Saturday, said, inter alia, that: “Zoning is entrenched in the constitution of the PDP”, and that it was subscribed to “during the (December, 2017) local government elections” in the state. Ememobong said that the party “will do it again in coming elections”, as “it is purely a constitutional issue”.
If the people of Uyo Senatorial District are to hold the PDP by this submission, then the party should look for a way, or plan how to “settle” Obong Albert with another political office (if they love him so much) just like former Governor Godswill Akpabio did when he (Akpabio) “rewarded” him with the senate seat after he accepted to step down for Mr Udom Emmanuel, the former Secretary to Akwa Ibom State Government, who is now governor.
Last week, stakeholders of the PDP in Uyo Federal Constituency, one of the three federal constituencies in Uyo senatorial district, took a stand on the 2019 Uyo senatorial seat — they vowed that they will not concede the seat to any other federal constituency in the district in next year’s election. At a meeting convened by Uwem Ita Etuk, political leader and former commissioner, the stakeholders mandated Sir Val Attah and few others to take the message of their resolution to the the leadership of PDP and Governor Udom Emmanuel, who are at the moment, rumoured to be strongly behind OBA’s second term ambition. (Click here to read story: http://propellerng.com/uyo-leaders-to-udom-well-not-concede-senate-seat-to-any-federal-constituency-in-2019/)
What the Uyo stakeholders simply did was to remind Governor Udom that OBA, from Itu/Ibiono Ibom federal constituency, is currently completing the second term tenure Senator Ita Enang (also from OBA’s constituency) failed to get in 2015. Senator Enang, who is now Presidential Adviser on National Assembly Matters-Senate, started the Itu/Ibiono Ibom ticket in 2011.
Before then, John James Akpanudoedehe, from Uyo federal constituency, had served as Senator between 1999 and 2003. Akpanudoedehe was succeeded by Effiong Bob, from Etinan Federal Constituency. Bob served as Senator for the district between 2003 and 2011 (Eight years) before Senator Enang came on board. If we critically consider the short analysis above, then the Uyo leaders and stakeholders were right when they charged Sir Attah and Co to go inform the governor that going by extant zoning of the seat among the three federal constituencies in the district, 2019 will be the turn of Uyo federal constituency to produce the next senator.
We should be spared of the political sweet nothings of OBA being a pragmatic or erudite senator that should be returned for a second term – they are just superlatives, and nothing more. If Senator Albert were that pragmatic, then he would have been worried or taken action on the abandoned Nung Udoe-Afaha Offiong-Etinan-Ekom Iman Road, the contract awarded to Mother Cat company many years ago; and other federal projects now cast aside in Uyo senatorial district. In fact, he would have been the first to shout that all was not well in Uyo senatorial district even before Senate Minority Leader Akpabio mentioned projects rotting away in Ikot Ekpene.
But why would OBA speak out when he was handpicked to become Senator? Apart from very few political office holders who won election by popular votes, majority were programmed to win, and they won. Even Governor Udom Emmanuel, the number one beneficiary of zoning in the state, did not win nomination from his party because he paraded the highest credentials at the time. There were the likes of Umana Okon Umana, Ekpenyong Ntekim, Senator Helen Esuene, Nsima Ekere, about 22 of them in all. But Udom won the primary because the ground had been prepared for him to emerge winner. Whether or not critics agree, that was it.
Uyo federal constituency, therefore, is ready to produce a replacement to OBA in 2019. Stakeholders of the ruling PDP from Uyo have said so. There are fine aspirants in the constituency too. Truth be told, it is not anomalous for OBA to seek a second term, barring the two terms or more as prescribed by the constitution for lawmakers; the Uyo Senator has the right to re-contest just as aspirants from Uyo federal constituency have the right to ask him to step down for them to take their turn. I will say here that where there is a right, there is always a remedy. That remedy is what leaders of Uyo federal constituency have voiced.
I can give it to the Akwa Ibom PDP when it comes to the issue of zoning, be it straitjacketed or targeted. OBA should therefore listen to the voice of reason and prepare to vacate the stage for a peaceful succession of that seat. As my pastor would say, obedience may be costly, but the end result is priceless. This is my message to Senator (Obong) Bassey Albert Akpan.
* Itoro Bassey writes from Nung-Udoe Ibesikpo, Ibesikpo/Asutan LGA, Akwa Ibom State