IN THE NEWS: Chris Ekpenyong Dares Akpabio: Against the run of play?
……….First, let me credit the stellar former Spokesman of Late President Umaru Yar’adua, Segun Adeniyi with the patent of that familiar title, Against the run of play.
It was his account of the unlikely ouster of President Goodluck Jonathan via the ballot box in 2015. That, however, isn’t my dial now. I mean to interrogate the shock emergence of erstwhile Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State, exceptional businessman and successful entrepreneur, His Excellency, Engr. Dr. Chris Ekpenyong as the major contender to square up against former Senate Minority Leader, Chief Dr Godswill Akpabio CON, for the Akwa Ibom North West (Ikot Ekpene) Senatorial District come 2019.
Settled. Dr Ekpeyong will be the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the race. He was unanimously adopted by stakeholders of ISD for the contest. That show of confidence, itself, tells a story. These rested politicians know that, the man, popularly known as, ‘Ukarakpa'(Anaconda), is the one trump card that can constrict to death, the presumed invincibility of Senator Akpabio.
Ironically, until he left the PDP, Akpabio was certain to run unopposed, at least on PDP platform. Having crossed to the All Progressives Congress, APC, he supplanted several aspirants, who wouldn’t be smiling at him as we speak. He proclaimed himself the Leader of the APC in the State. No other cock will crow there. That’s his first minus. A certain bad blood within his ranks.
Some people have dismissed Dr Ekpenyong as a no match of Akpabio. Contrasting the manifest, yet passive strengths of both candidates, Akpabio’s loud personality and charisma that helps him easily connect with the people, outweighs Ekpenyong’s moderated and mature rendering of his style. Nevertheless, Ukarakpa has a real impact and formidable base that is more fastidious and real, than the characteristically, social infatuation of the public with the seductions of Akpabio.
Advantage is, His Excellency, Ekpenyong resurrected an ambition he mummified for Akpabio based on the hype of his party in endorsements for Akpabio and Udom Emmanuel respectively. Akpabio jumped ship and handed him his chance. He will go all out for it, believe me. Let’s answer a few questions on this match-up.
1)Why not Abak 5?
Some people feel, a PDP candidate from Abak 5 bloc of ISD could have sealed it against a rampant Akpabio, since they are the vote basket of the zone. Fact is, Senator Aloysius Etok from Ikono/Ini Federal Constituency axis had changed the power rotation dynamics in the District. He served two terms. With the Senate seat now on Ikot Ekpene Federal Constituency, they are expected by the PDP unwritten understanding to complete two terms, before it shifts to Abak 5.
Secondly, people were looking at a Barrister Emmanuel Enoidem, who is a formidable grassroots politician to fill that slot. No! No! No! Enoidem is the National Legal Adviser of the PDP. Come 2019 and the expected barrage of post elections litigations up to the Supreme Court, he is on track to become a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, if he makes 20 appearances in the Supreme Court. That is alluring enough to stave off this distraction.
2)Akpabio vs Ekpenyong
Ekpenyong is lucky to have the ‘Underdog’ tag in this face-off with Akpabio. A David versus Goliath script always excites the populace. That is the crux of this matter. But, juxtaposed against each other, Ekpenyong has considerable presence to match Akpabio.
He holds a Higher National Diploma in Electrical/Electronics Engineering from the Polytechnic Calabar, earned an MBA (Marketing) from Kensington University Glendale, California USA, capping it up with a Ph.D in Public Administration. Akpabio holds a Law Degree from the University of Calabar.
Akpabio has both Executive and legislative experience, having served as governor of Akwa Ibom State and his current stint in the Senate. Ekpenyong boasts same pedigree. He was a Member of former Cross River State House of Assembly and served as second civilian Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State.
He ran for governor also but did not make it.
Who will the people vote for among the two? Time will tell. But, this will not be a stroll in the park for Senator Akpabio who is meeting a very experienced and time tested politician with contacts across the Senatorial District. Besides, stakeholders from Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District have a morbid fear for Akpabio’s ‘genocidal’ political maneuver.
If Akpabio succeeds to truncate the current situation and gets another person other than Governor Udom Emmanuel to win the Akwa Ibom State Government House in 2019, then, Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District will have to wait 24 years to produce another Governor in the state. This will amount to class political suicide for this generation of gladiators in that Senatorial District. Besides, the power sharing arrangement may thereby as a consequence, totally collapse, because of the distrust that will be implanted in the System.
These ISD stakeholders therefore have a point to prove to Akpabio, that, his personal interest and manipulative schemes to serve same, should not usurp and retire, that of a whole clan.
I fear Senator Akpabio’s role may end up being the parabolic ‘Udo Idung Ima’.
We are told, Udo Idung ima was the darling of his village. So famous and cherished that, he took the village for granted and defied her by climbing and plucking fruits from the forbidden pear tree. This defiance was met with stiff sanction and Udo Idung Ima, realized belatedly, that, he was not after all, a god of the people.
Senator Akpabio can learn from this and like he read from the script of the Second World War to tell us about ‘Warsaw’, let me remind him of the cautionary counsel of the mum of one of the legendary warriors the world has ever known, Alexander the Great. His mother warned him, saying, ‘The best horse may stumble someday’. Can Ekpenyong upstage Akpabio against the run of play? We are watching.