2023: WHO WINS AKWA IBOM NORTH EAST SENATORIAL DISTRICT?
By Osondu Ahirika
The Uyo Senatorial District race for 2023 will be interesting. All three Federal Constituencies comprising 9 Local Governments that make up the Senatorial District boasts possible aspirants who are likely to test their strength in the race.
Here’s a roll call:
UYO FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY
From Uyo Federal Constituency, the Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey may opt for the Senate , although some pundits say he may run for the Federal House of Representatives.
Others like, the former Member of House of Representatives, Hon. Emmanuel Obot, incumbent member representing Ibesikpo Asutan in the AKHA, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Uko, Chairman of Akwa Ibom Road Maintenance Agency AKROIMA, Prince Dr Godwin Ntukude and former member representing Uruan State Constituency, Rt. Hon. Usenobong Akpabio are believed to be warming up for the contest. A one time Chairman of Uruan Local Government Area, Rt. Hon. Tony Akan may also bounce back to the Senate contest.
A former AKHA Member, who representated Uruan, Hon. Kufre Etuk is also set to run, albeit, on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC. There is an outside chance that the two term member representing Nsit Atai in the AKHA, Rt. Hon. Mark Esset may also join the race.
Another former Member of House of Assembly, who represented Uyo State Constituency, Hon. Ekere Afia may also run.
Some pundits also advocate that, the Executive Chairman of Uyo Capital City Development Authority, Otuekong Prince Enobong Uwah, popularly known as the Champion of Uyo Politics should be in contention and the former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Obong Paul Ekpo is believed to be primed for the slot by powers that be. The member representing Uyo Federal Constituency, Hon. Engr. Mike Enyong may spring a surprise and join the fray too.
Some of these politicians are also said to be keen on running for the Governorship and have the Senate seat as Plan as the incumbent Senator representing Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District, Obong Bassey Albert did successfully in 2015, when he withdrew from the Governorship race and picked up the Senate ticket.
ETINAN FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY
From Etinan Federal Constituency, the former Speaker of the AKHA and former representative of the Federal Constituency, Rt. Hon. Sam Ikon, his former Speaker colleague, Rt. Hon Anietie Etuk and former Representative of the Federal Constituency, Hon. Dan Akpan are touted, can throw their hat into the ring.
ITU/IBIONO FEDERAL CONSTITUENCY OUT
For Itu/Ibiono Ibom Federal Constituency, there’s no joy for the Senate race. Of course, they have qualified persons, but, Senator Albert is serving a sSecond Term after taking over from his fellow Ibiono man, Senator Ita Enang in 2015.
Consequently, Itu/Ibiono Ibom Federal Constituency would have done an unprecedented 12 years back to back by 2023. Other blocs will not give them that luxury again.
Tnis leaves the contest between Atai Uyo and Etinan Federal Constituency.
THE CHALLENGE OF EQUITY
Having ruled out the third leg of the Senatorial District, there’s still a contention for micro zoning the Senate Seat between the remaining two Political blocs.
Etinan Federal Constituency has again done 2 terms in the Senate through Senator Effiong Bob who served from 2003-2011. Leaving Uyo Federal Constituency with only a term which was served by Senator John Udoedehe between 1999-2003. Zoning advocates argue that, fjr equity, Uyo Federal Constituency should take the shot.
Forner State Chairman of the PDP and erstwhile Commissioner, Prince Uwem Ita Etuk, who vehemently resisted Senator Albert’s Second Term quest, having described it as a third term for Itu/Ibiono, is at the forefront of this campaign.
He is believed to be pushing for someone from Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area, preferably, his political godson Rt. Hon. Aniekan Uko to get the PDP Senate ticket and ultimately get elected.
Those from Uyo Local Government Area eyeing the Senate seat, have to contend with the fact that, their Son, Dr Udoedehe had served and it is argued they should steer clear from the race. However, the argument that Ibiono Ibom did three terms and Nsit Ubium did two terms have been cited as precedents which in effect doesn’t disqualify Uyo aspirants.
THE PECUILIARITY OF URUAN’S CASE
Uruan Local Government, of the four that make up Atai Uyo, plead being the most marginalized as far as the claim to the Senate seat is discussed.
They insist on having never tested either the Federal House of Representatives nor the Senate since the return of democracy in 1999, as their strongest bargaining point. They are therefore assertive, it should be given them for equity and fairness.
Little wonder, Uruan parades the highest number of aspirants who have been mentioned as gunning for the Senate seat.
Speaker Aniekan Bassey as the number 3 Citizen stands a good chance to grab the ticket. That is, if he leverages on his position.
Top on the list of Uruan born contenders however, is Dr Godwin Ntukude. The AKROIMA Boss is a fearless, articulate and very vocal personality, whose forcefulness, political audacity and pragmatism stands him out for the race.
Pundits reason that, the man whose vision transformed Mboho Mkparawa Ibibio to formidable Apex sociocultural Organization and made it an International brand, built the Mboho Unity School at Idu Uruan and the Sir Udo Udoma Secretariat of the body is a sure hand , that has the grit to succeed in the tricky Senate. Ntukude has been at the forefront of turning Uruan around from an opposition hot bed to a mainstream player.
Even as Transport Commissioner, he left a mark in what was a difficult terrain. Ntukude, who holds a Doctorate Degree in Political Science is also a one time Special Adviser on Political and Legislative Affairs to former Governor Godswill Akpabio. He is vastly experienced.
Rt . Hon. Usenobong Akpabio also boasts stellar record as he pairs with Senator Ita Enang and Rt. Hon. Onofiok Luke as one of the best Lawmakers to ever serve in the AKHA.
For Hon. Kufre Etuk, he will be lucky if his party, APC hands him the ticket and then he looks to defeat whoever emerges as the PDP candidate. This is a herculean task but not impossible.
In all these permutations, the absence of Rt. Hon. Onofiok Luke who is fixated on the Governorship race sounds like a welcome relief for those interested in the Akwa Ibom North East Senate seat. If by any stroke of fate, he changes his mind and joins the race, the calculations will be totally altered. He is an amazingly sagacious fighter.