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Elder Aniekan Akpan, Chairman of PDP
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By Inemesit Ina

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Zoning appears settled in 15 State Constituencies ahead of May 7, 2022, House of Assembly PDP primary in Akwa Ibom State but there is contention in 11 others which may be settled in the field  the party or the Governor intervenes

For most people in Akwa Ibom State, especially non-politicians, interest in the electoral process starts and ends with the governorship contest. They do not bother about the other positions up for grabs. But the governorship race is not and has never been a stand-alone contest. It is inextricably linked to all other contests – House of Assembly, House of Representatives, Senate and presidential.

For the faithful of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), the ruling party in the state, the House of Assembly primary is critical. Scheduled for May 7, 2022, it is the first in a series of primaries that ends with the nomination of the presidential candidate on May 29, 2022.

Being the first, the Assembly primary is sure to be a dry run for every other primary in the state as it would effectively signpost the voting pattern of delegates in other primaries.

Interestingly, zoning is a settled issue in 15 of the 26 State Constituencies. There is, however, contention in 11 others.

The Party’s Position

The State Executive Committee of the PDP has zoned the three Senate and 10 House of Representatives seats in the state. It started with the Senate zoning on Thursday, April 14, 2022. That of the House of Representatives was announced in a statement on Friday, April 22, 2022.

The zoning of the governorship seat to Akwa Ibom North-East Senatorial District had long been settled by stakeholders and the party reaffirmed so in the two statements zoning the federal legislative seats.

But, so far, the PDP leadership has been silent on the zoning of House of Assembly seats.

The Settled State Constituencies

If and when the PDP leadership decides to zone state legislative seats it may not encounter difficulty in 15 State Constituencies where zoning is already settled.

These constituencies are Uyo, Ibesikpo Asutan, Uruan, Etinan, Nsit Ubium, Nsit Ibom, Ibiono Ibom, Eket, Ikot Abasi/Eastern Obolo, Urue Offong/Oruko, Okobo, Etim Ekpo/Ika, Oruk Anam, Ikot Ekpene/Obot Akara and Ini.

Uyo

Political offices are zoned in Uyo Local Government Area/State Constituency on the basis of four clans – Offot, Oku, Etoi and Ikono Ibom. Offot, the biggest of all, hosts the Local Government (LG) Headquarters and boasts of four of the 11 wards of Uyo. In addition, Offot shares one ward almost equally with Oku. Ikono Ibom, Etoi and Oku have two exclusive wards each.

There is nothing like a second term for either the House of Assembly seat or the LG chairmanship seat in Uyo. It is one, one water as Oro fishermen would say.

Zoning, on a one-term basis, is so strictly enforced in the state capital that the second term bid of the immediate past Member representing Uyo State Constituency in the House of Assembly, Mr Monday Eyo Okon (Murray), from Oku, was stopped by the powers-that-be in Uyo politics in the 2018 PDP primary despite his popularity among the delegates.

The incumbent, Mr Anietie Eka, from Etoi, who got the party’s ticket on the basis of zoning, was rumoured in the last few months to be interested in re-election like his predecessor was. But the fact that he has not bought the PDP nomination form has put paid to the rumour. If he ever nursed such ambition, he must have dropped it.

Past Assembly Members for Uyo State Constituency were Obong (later Barr.) Aniedi Ndem, from Oku (1999-2003), Elder Archibong Inyang from Etoi (2003-2007), Mr. (now Dr.) Ekere Afia from Ikono (2007-2011) and Mr Edwin Joseph from Offot (2011-2015).

In this second round of zoning, the Assembly seat is rotating to Ikono from where 13 aspirants, the highest number in the state, are set to do battle on May 7.

Ibesikpo Asutan

Ibesikpo Asutan, as her name suggests, consists of two clans with fairly equal sizes – Ibesikpo and Asutan Ekpe. Each clan has five wards created over two decades ago by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Ibesikpo hosts the LG Headquarters at Nung Udoe.

The Member for Ibesikpo Asutan State Constituency and former Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Elder Aniekan Uko, is seeking promotion to the House of Representatives seat of Uyo/Ibesikpo Asutan/Nsit Atai/Uruan Federal Constituency at the end of two terms in the House of Assembly (2015-2023).

He is from Ibesikpo and the seat is naturally rotating to Asutan Ekpe.

Past Members of the Assembly for the state constituency were late Barr. Umoh Udonwa from Ibesikpo (1999-2003), Engr. Eduok Eduok from Asutan Ekpe (2003-2007), late Chief Ekpeowo Ekpo (Dantata) from Ibesikpo (2007-2011) and Mr. Eyakeno Etukudo from Asutan Ekpe (2011-2015).

Uruan

Zoning in Uruan is done on the basis of her four clans – Central, South-East and South-South with three wards each as well as North with two wards. The LG Headquarters, Idu, is in Central Uruan Clan.

Like his Ibesikpo Asutan counterpart, the Member representing the Uruan State Constituency, Mr Aniekan Bassey, who is the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, is seeking elevation to the National Assembly. He wants to be the Senator representing Akwa Ibom North-East Senatorial District.

As Aniekan, from South-East Uruan Clan, is standing down, the Uruan Assembly seat is zoned exclusively to  Central Uruan Clan.

Past Members of the Assembly for the constituency were Obong Asuquo Nyong Essien from South-East (1999-2003), Barr. Usenobong Akpabio from North (2003-2011) and Obong Kufreabasi Etuk from South-South {2011-2015).

Usen, as he is popularly called, started the second term tradition in Uruan. Aniekan has followed that tradition. As such, Central Uruan Clan is expected to take two terms.

Etinan

Etinan is a one-clan (Iman) Local Government Area (LGA). But she is divided into two zones – Iman North (six wards) and Iman South (five wards). Iman North hosts the LG Headquarters, Etinan.

Zoning is strictly enforced in Etinan. The incumbent Member, Barr. Aniefiok Dennis Akpan (Palmer), from Iman North, is standing down in 2023 after two terms in the Assembly. Accordingly, the seat is rotating to Iman South for two terms.

Past Assembly Members for Etinan State Constituency were late Barr. Umo Etukudo from Iman South (1999-2003), late Barr. Iniobong Eshiett from Iman North (2003-2007) and Elder Sam Ikon from Iman South (2007-2015). Ikon set the second term precedent.

Nsit Ubium

Nsit Ubium, as her name suggests, is made up of two distinct clans as contained in the State Government Gazette – Ubium and Western Nsit (the people call themselves Nsit Anyang). The LG Headquarters, Ikot Edibon, is in Nsit.

The zoning of political offices is done on the basis of zones, not clans. There are three zones – Nsit (four wards), Ubium North (three wards) and Ubium South (three wards).

The incumbent Member, Barr. Otobong Bob is seeking a second term. He is from Ubium North and so is all his challengers. It was the same zoning picture four years ago.

Past Members of the Assembly for Nsit Ubium State Constituency were Elder Aniefiok Thompson (Winmos) from Ubium South (1999-2007), Obong Dan Akpan from Ubium South (2007-2011) and Barr. Onofiok Luke from Nsit (2011-2019). Winmos and Onofiok served two terms.

Nsit Ibom

Nsit Ibom LGA/State Constituency is entirely Nsit, an Ibibio sub-ethnic group. She has one clan – Western Nsit. The same clan exists in Nsit Ubium from where Nsit Ibom was created in 1991. The whole of neighbouring Nsit Atai LGA is Eastern Nsit.

There are two zones in Nsit Ibom – Mbiaso and Asang with five wards each. The LG Headquarters, Afaha Offiong, is in Mbiaso.

Past Members of the Assembly for the constituency were Dr Ukana Bassey from Asang (1999-2003), late Elder Joseph Esitikott from Mbiaso (2003-2005), Mrs Sarah Esitikott from Mbiaso (2005-2007), Mr Anietie Etuk from Asang (2007-2015) and Princess Mfon Ekong from Mbiaso (2015-2019).

Anietie Etuk, who served as the Speaker of the State House of Assembly from 2010 to 2011, started the second term tradition for the two zones when he was re-elected into the Assembly in 2011. Since then, each zone has occupied both the Assembly and LG chairmanship seats for two terms.

The incumbent Member, Mr Ifiok Udoh (Ben Gun), is using Mbiaso’s second slot in the Assembly after beating Mfon Ekong in the 2018 primary. His successor in 2023 is coming from Asang.

Zoning is so strictly enforced in Nsit Ibom that Ben Gun cannot seek a second term for himself as that would amount to a third term for Mbiaso. He had set his eyes on the House of Representatives seat of Etinan/Nsit Ubium/Nsit Ibom Federal Constituency. Now, with the party’s “concession” of the seat to Etinan (actually to its former State Chairman, Obong Paul Ekpo), yesterday, his ambition appears to have come to grief. Clearly seeing the handwriting on the wall, Anietie Etuk, who was equally in the race, had withdrawn last week.

Also read: Quest For Relevance: Bassey Ekanem, Others Dump APC For PDP

Ibiono Ibom

Ibiono Ibom LGA/State Constituency has two clans of disproportionate sizes – Ibiono Ibom with over 200 villages and Ikpanya with five villages.

The two clans do not matter politically. Zoning of political positions is done on the basis of five zones – North, Central, South, West and East.

Only the North has three wards, one of which is Ikpanya. The rest have two wards each.

The incumbent Member, Obong Godwin Ekpo, wants to represent Ibiono Ibom State Constituency for a second term. Like in 2018, he and all his challengers are from Central Zone where the LG Headquarters, Oko Ita, is. It has become a tradition that each zone takes two terms in the Assembly.

Past Members of the Assembly for the constituency were Elder Idorenyin Umoh from North (1999-2003), Engr. Ignatius Edet from South (2003-2011) and Barr. Ime Okon from West (2011-2019). The last two served two terms.

Eket

Eket LGA/State Constituency has four clans – Eket Afaha, Eket Offiong, Idua and Okon.

It is difficult to zone political offices on a clan basis because the first three clans, which are all Ekid-speaking, are scattered in different wards. The only contiguous clan is Okon which is Ibibio-speaking, belonging to the Nsit sub-ethnic group.

Zoning in Eket is, therefore, done on the basis of three zones – Eket Central (five wards), Eket Urban (three wards) and Okon (three wards).

The incumbent Member, Mr David Lawrence Udofa (DLaw), is seeking promotion to the House of Representatives after two terms in the state legislature. He wants to represent Eket/Esit Eket/Ibeno/ONNA Federal Constituency.

D-Law hails from Eket Urban and the Assembly seat is rotating, without dispute, to Okon.

Past Members of the Assembly for the constituency were the late Chief Moses Ukpong from Okon (1999-2003), Barr. Jack Udota from Eket Central (2003-2011) and Mr. Ayang Akanimo Ayang from Eket Urban (2011-2015).

Moses Ukpong, who was a Member of the pioneer Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly (1992-1993), had his first term truncated by the late General Sani Abacha-led military intervention before returning to the Assembly over five years later. Jack, as he is popularly called, served two full terms and even sought a third term, albeit unsuccessfully, in the 2010 primary. Ayang lost his second term bid to draw in the 2014 primary.

Ikot Abasi/Eastern Obolo

Ikot Abasi LGA and the much smaller Eastern Obolo LGA share one state constituency and the Assembly seat rotates between them.

Both LGAs have 10 wards each, but the number of clans differs.

Ikot Abasi has five clans – Edemaya (three wards), Ikpa Ibekwe (two wards), Ukpum Ete (two wards), Ikpa Nung Asang (two wards) and Ukpum Okon (one ward). Ikpa Ibekwe hosts the LG Headquarters.

On the other hand, Eastern Obolo has just two clans – Okoroete (seven wards) and Iko (three wards). The LG Headquarters is at Okoroete.

The incumbent Member, Mr Uduak Odudoh, who is serving a second term in the Assembly, wants a promotion to the House of Representatives as the representative of Ikot Abasi/Eastern Obolo/Mkpat Enin Federal Constituency. All his three opponents are from Ikot Abasi, specifically Edemaya and Ete Clans. Uduak, himself, is from Ikpa Nung Asang Clan.

The Assembly seat is rotating to Eastern Obolo where all the aspirants are from.

Past Members for the constituency were Obong Uyio Udosen from Ete Clan in Ikot Abasi (1999-2003), Sir Adasi Ubulom from Okoroete Clan in Eastern Obolo (2003-2007), Dr Charles Mbong from Iko Clan in Eastern Obolo (2007-2011) and Mr Aboh Uduyok from Okoroete Clan in Eastern Obolo (2011-2015). Uduak broke the second term jinx for the Assembly seat which Uyio Udosen, Charles Mbong and Aboh all tried and failed

To be continued. Next,  Urue Offong/Oruko, Okobo, Etim Ekpo/Ika, Oruk Anam, Ikot Ekpene/Obot Akara and Ini State Constituencies.

 

 

 

 

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