Seven 2023 governorship seekers in Akwa Ibom State have filed out to battle for the All Progressive Congress (APC) ticket in readiness for a fight to finish with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that has been dominating the affairs of the state since 1999.
With the tempo of activities backstage in APC, PDP might not find it very easy as usual to clinch victory at the polls this time around. Besides the fact that some lesser political parties in the state are warming up to make a major political statement, APC appears to be ready for war with PDP.
Some of the aggrieved PDP players who are at home with the ‘tricks’ of the party have defected to APC in a bid to take the battle to PDP. Before now, the drawback of the party has been its inability to produce a broadly acceptable governorship candidate.
Now, seven political potentates who know the terrain like the back of their palms are offering themselves for recruitment as APC’s gubernatorial battle-axe in 2023 against the PDP.
Before this time, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), one of the coalition parties that formed APC has been struggling since 2011 to upstage Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a dominant political party in the state.
Political watchers say its failure was largely due to recruiting ‘unacceptable’ governorship candidates for elections in the state. There is also the lack of political gladiators with national influence and deep pockets.
The implication of this misfortune has been APC’s blatant alienation from tasting the goodies and juicy appointments in the state renowned with wealthy oil resources. Poverty and misery were identified with APC members in a typical ‘winners take it all’ politics in Akwa Ibom State.
In most cases the bitterness of the disenfranchised followers develop voters apathy where some defect to the ruling PDP where they are either compelled to ‘join the queue’ before savoring the crumbs or used perpetually to sabotage APC in subsequent elections.
As the 2023 gubernatorial race hots-up, APC in Akwa Ibom is beginning to have a huge following, known aspirants of national influencers with cash. Unfortunately, the party is still retaining the ill habit of deep rooted hatred, division and need a generally acceptable ‘bridge builder’ candidate to succeed come the 2023 governorship election.
So far, seven gladiators have purchased the form and jostle to be crowned the party standard-bearer. But who among them possesses the needed character to intimidate the ruling PDP and grab the stool to enjoy Akwa Ibom commonwealth’s as bona fides?
Behold the governorship aspirants and their perceived weaknesses and strong points:
He is a late entrant into the race on the platform of APC. He just recently defected from the PDP. A greenhorn in Akwa Ibom political space, but a good money bag to support the party’s cause. However, his rumoured imposition can further deepen the division and weaken voting strength of APC in Akwa Ibom in 2023.
Moreover, some party members claim the constitution of the party forbids a defector who is less than a year to qualify as a suitable governorship standard-bearer.
PROF. CHRIS EKONG
This economist and an ace budget expert is an Uyo son. He has experienced power as an executive council member under Obong Victor Attah. He is favoured as Uyo clamour for the seat at ‘Barracks Road End’. However, his dent in politically and security scandal may split APC votes or attract litigation if given the ticket.
JOHN JAMES UDOEDEHE
So far, he is the highest political office holder in the governorship race under APC. John has served as Minister, APC National Secretary and a Senator.
His interest in the race sparked controversy about his over-ambitious and selfish character. He was loved by many and disliked by a multitude. His ticket many fear would mean another sellout to PDP.
He joined the race as a bold gladiator with over 16 years of experience and national popularity. However, his development or empowerment capacity is a huge threat to his ticket.
The Calabar-Itu highway and Ikot Ekpene-Aba road delays have been blamed for his bad lobbying capacity.
His family’s philanthropic and developmental antecedent overwhelmed his character. A big employer of labour in the Local Government Service Board.
He is a broker of repute expected to attract investment if he becomes the governor of the state.
He is media shy but an achiever and a reformer who enjoys the backstage. His ticket will reunite APC and attract a larger chunk of PDP votes in Uyo, Ikot Ekpene and Eket senatorial district.
Austin is a natural bridge-builder, and transformer. His Uyo ancestry sentiment will be added advantage to his APC ticket.
The third Uyo son in the race for government house indicates Uyo strong desire to take power as most deserving of the senatorial rotation.
Udoh has many contests yet without a successful political career. Also his age and network of friends have not given him the needed character to lead APC against highly sponsored, adopted and supported opposition candidates. He is also seen as a greenhorn in the race.
He is said to be a brilliant politician and gentleman from Oron ethnic nationality. Many in APC are of the view that his partnership with Austin Utuk, as a running mate could easily bring a landslide victory to APC in 202