Thursday, 21 May 2015

Akwa Ibom elections: APC’s illogic

Akwa Ibom elections: APC’s illogic


The gubernatorial election overwhelmingly won by PDP on  April 11, 2015 has continued to generate altercation and bad blood from APC which lost that contest owing to realistic fundamentals that could not have been otherwise. It would b recalled that APC fought that battle against zoning; against justice and equity. Even though the party sponsored a good candidate, PDP sponsored a better and superior candidate. And while the APC candidate had scores of political feuds with a broad spectrum of politicians and even civil servants who nursed misgivings about him to settle, PDP brought a candidate that was as clean as a whistle and as fit as a fiddle. It was therefore natural that the party had to win that election. 

APC predicated its faith in that election on very unrealistic premises. The first faulty step was that it invested its fate in the vaunting ambition of one man and not the collective interest of true party faithful. It is believed that some of the members who felt that the party had been hijacked by the highest bidder worked against the party from within. And such scenario is made effective if the party is not entrenched within the spectrum of popular will complemented with a charismatic leader that earns the respect and admiration of the followers. With the lack of such leadership, the party stood no chance in the election.
 A school of thought believes that the party was misled into the illusion that money can do all things. In their thinking, since they had a money bag with very deep pocket, others without such pockets could be relegated. Impelled by such hollow thinking, the likes of Senator John James AkpanUdoedeghe were not only manipulated out of the reach of the APC ticket for which they sustained the party for years in the belief that they would get, they were out-rightly alienated and made irrelevant. They failed to realize that someone like Senator AkpanUdoedeghe may not have a deep pocket or act very liberally with funds but he could be very effective in playing spoilsports. And that given his chequered background, he has the reach and capacity for such sport. When the party ignored him in preference for a man who was ready to do cash spree in the desperation to get the ticket, it fell to know that it was digging its waterloo. Well the ticket he got but that was the farthest he could go in terms of the process as he could not cross the hurdle in the real election. 

The candidate and his stalwarts had also believed that they could skew the course of justice and equity using the bigoted doctrine of ethnicity. Armed with the reality of Ibibio as the majority ethnic group, they had whipped the virulent ethnic sentiments of “Ibibio can not be out of power for sixteen years”, literally referring to Uyo Senatorial District. It was one of the most arrogant and parochial mantra to canvass. An intimate appraisal of the Ibibios and their tendencies prove eloquently that such divisive position can not come from them. And that it was concocted by desperate politicians to hoodwink the people into parochialism and make them view the governorship as an entitlement they must fight for and which must not elude them. But Ibibio which is the only ethnic group that has presence in all the three senatorial districts of the State refused to fall for the parochial bait. The repudiated the specious submission and allowed their sense of Statehood, sense of brotherhood and their conscience which equally welled-up their sense of justice and equity to dictate their voting pattern for that election. Ethnic sentiments were relegated while the noble values of justice, equity and fair-play were enthroned and made to dictate the direction to go. 

Those who promoted the parochial enterprise had believed that APC would win the election. But the party lost the election and has headed to the tribunal. The prayer of the leadership of the party in the State led by its candidate is that the entire election be cancelled and repeated. Their plea reminds one of the landmark case King Solomon had to do when the ownership of a certain child was the crux of dispute between two women each claiming to be the mother. King Solomon, a renowned king of Israel in the Bible who was endowed with prodigious wisdom that is yet to have a parallel and a concomitant keen sense of judgment proposed that the child be shared between the two disputing women. But the real mother would not let her child be divided since that was going to lead to predictable death for the child. She rather pleaded that the child be handed over to the other woman who had readily accepted the proposition that the child be shared. The inference here is that love took precedent over unbridled desire to possess. 

The same scenario seems to be playing out in Akwa Ibom today in the dispute that has sequel the election of April 11, 2015. This scenario just like other sports presents for us a platform to evaluate ourselves and our contributions vis-à-vis the interest of the State. The State is our primary constituency. Without the State, there is no Akwa Ibom and there is no politics. Our first love therefore should be for the State and this should take precedent over and above all other considerations. The idea of creating needless dispute and inviting negative attention to the State can only serve as an action which suggests that the purveyors have very little interest for the progress and growth of the State. What I, however, know of the leadership of APC as often exhibited and wide proclaimed by its candidate is that he loves the State. The State has also shown him love in many respects. It is not only in the capacity of governor of the State in 2015 that he can serve the State. He had served the State meritoriously and the State has also served him sacrificially. 

It is from this basis of his famed love for the State that we urge him to keenly review the events of that election which are in some ways empirical and accept the truth that it was difficult for him to win it. If we take basic indices that led to that election, the possibility for failure was high. For instance, campaigns as conducted by APC were grossly inadequate owing to the time of entry. And campaign issues which ought to have been on the front burner were relegated for propaganda. PDP took its campaign very seriously with the candidate delivering the blue print of his plans for the people from local government to local government. 

Perhaps one of the formidable factors that boosted the electoral fortunes of PDP was Unoma Akpabio’s mobilizing capacity. With the wife of the gubernatorial candidate of the party in toe, the campaigner-in-chief as she was fondly referred to toured all the federal constituencies in the State to mobilize the women. She also met with the various women groups to galvanize them to support PDP. Whether it is her well known interventions in social causes or her soapbox prowess, Unoma Akpabio like the husband has morphed into a personality that engenders mass appeal. Every time she steps out into a crowd, she electrifies the audience. The generous outpouring of affection towards her denotes a woman who is genuinely loved by many. It is this sense of entitlement that people have towards her that she invested to woo the electorate for PDP.

The PDP candidate’s wife, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel was an added boost to that election. Appearing to be a good student under Mrs. Akpabio, she was quick to internalize the soapbox elements and put them into effective use. In songs, dances and speeches, she had turned herself into a delight to watch. With child-like innocence, she told her various audiences of her faith in her husband and her conviction that he would take Akwa Ibom to the next level. She never failed to acknowledge and embellish her trainer, Her Excellency, Ekaette Unoma Akpabio whom she always humbly referred to as her mother and the husband, His Excellency, Chief Godswill Akpabio for their uncommon accomplishments in the State. Suffice it to say that APC did not have such a strong women wing and never undertook such mobilization of women who constitute majority of the voting strength outside youths. 

Another segment of the society APC ignored was the youth. Yet they constitute the majority. The PDP courted the youths early as an integral part of its government. Governor Akpabio was quoted many times to have told the youths that the future belongs to them. Such comments are very stirring and engendering with attendant sense of entitlement. The youths saw Udom as one of their own and their right. They were therefore determined to produce him as their governor especially as he seems to belong to their age bracket. APC faultily depended on elders whose capacity for mobilization had already waned largely owing to a past that is bereft of goodwill. With such scenario, there was not much APC could do in the circumstance. And so a more pragmatic, a more result driven and a more better positioned PDP had to carry the day to the chagrin of APC in that election which held as prescribed by law. 

The continuous hullabaloo that there was no election is against the grain of logic. If there was no election, how come that materials were distributed? If there was no election, how come that an APC candidate won in Urue-Offong Oruko? If there was no election, how come that APC candidate scored over 89,000 votes? If there was no election, how come that an APC chieftain was caught with election materials in his house with youth corpers in his custody? The desperation to have the election cancelled with specious arguments that election did not hold can be equated to the case in the scripture which King Solomon had to give judgment. There is not much difference between the number of accredited voters that were recorded during the presidential election and the number recorded during the governorship election. But those calling for the cancellation have not talked about the presidential election because they were favoured at the centre. They want the election in the State cancelled because it did not favour them. Their request is hypocritical as flies logic in the face.

Joe Iniodu is a public affairs analyst.

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