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AYANG AKANIMO’S THREAT AND THE HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE OF ZONING IN EKET

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Eneh John

 

“Violent statements and threats cannot provide a solution to the problem. They can only exacerbate feeling and make a clash of forces inevitable.”-Stanford Cripps

It was Thurgood Marshall, who opined that, History teaches that grave threats to liberty often come in times of urgency, when constitutional rights seem too extravagant to endure. Friday, June 29, 2018 began like every other day. It was a gathering of political stakeholders in the Constituency of Mrs. Owoidighe Ekpoatai, Member representing Eket Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives. It was a meeting to dissolve the planning committee, which had helped put the constituency briefing and empowerment programme of the Federal Lawmaker together.

Present at the meeting were no fewer than 30 persons, which had Mrs.Ekpoatai, Former Council Secretary, Emman Sammy, Essien Ndueso, Daniel Edon, Group Captain Umanah, Former Esit Eket Chairman, Victor Bassey, President of Afiigh Iwaad Ekid, Godwin Williams, Becky Odungide, Godwin Elijah, and others I cannot recollect their names.

In a most embarrassing manner, the former Eket Lawmaker, Ayang Akanimo, told me to stand, which I did. He said, “Eneh, you are standing with the people that does not want zoning, you are going against the Governor’s directive. Let me WARN you, that any day you write anything against zoning again, I will take it PERSONALLY with you. Sit down.”

Even though Essien Ndueso had told me to approach Ayang after the meeting and tell him, I didn’t like that, I declined. I have learnt the strategies of war. I knew at the right time I will respond to that statement.

Let it be known that, I am well schooled not to understand or decode when threats are issued. I have never had any problem with Ayang. I am not a Politician, neither am I struggling anything with the former member, but ridiculing me in public, in a bizarre manner, cannot be accepted.

Ayang does not feed me, and so, had no right and authority to embarrass and threaten me publicly. For anyone who may be in doubt of his statements, there is a video recording to that effect.

I have written, and use my advocacies to better the lots of people in the society. I have also contributed in exposing fraud in the banking industry, and public office, by working with anti graft agencies, to expose fraud.

For a man, who barely left the House of Assembly in 2015, who should understand the business of lawmaking better, to try to censor the things I write, is an offense itself against the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which guarantees Press Freedom, Freedom of expression, and Right to life.

If we hold divergent political views, that shouldn’t make us enemies. There is hardly any political party that I don’t have friends. Should that confer me the right to go about threatening them because they do not share in my ideologies?

When that incident took place, the current Eket Lawmaker, David Lawrence was not present. But, it is foolishness to link him to what transpired. Was it David Lawrence that sent Ayang to threaten me? Was it the Governor that sent him? Or was it Buhari?Let us face issues squarely and deal with it on its merits and demerits. This is my personal issue with Ayang, which has to be sorted out legally. Nobody should link any other person with this, or try to whip parochial sentiments. For he who must go to equity, must go with clean hands.

On the zoning in Eket, every politically thinking human, expresses his or her political thoughts when it matters. I have severally reminded people, that I am not a delegate to the Peoples Democratic Party primaries for 2019 general elections. Anyone who is vying for a position in PDP, should go and lobby the delegates. A Lawmaker, all over the world, can contest elections as many times as possible, and can be elected as many times too. Nigeria is not an exception. The worst that can happen is for the people to vote him out at the polls. The current Member, representing Eket State constituency, is vying for the Assembly seat for a second term. He has become a centre of campaign for other Aspirants to focus on. Rather than Aspirants talking to delegates, David Lawrence has become their talking point, on why he should not contest.

Taking us memory lane, there have never been a time, when zoning prevented any one from contesting an election, there is no time zoning will disenfranchise anyone from contesting. In the case of Eket, Okon had produced Moses Ukpong, in his first term, before it was truncated by the military. So, in 1999, he was asked to go and complete his tenure, which he did. If they are saying that Okon went for a term, why was the zoning allowed to move to the Central zone, in 2003, which produced Jack Udota for two terms. In 2007, while Jack Udota was to go for a second term, the Apostles of Zoning, had pitched their tent with Victor Edon from Urban. The State Treasurer of PDP, Akpadiaha Ebitu, also contested that same election. That was the turn of Central zone to go for a second term, but Urban zone had Aspirants who contested the same elections. Edoho Palace had also contested the same elections. Abraham Sunday, known as Safra, and Barrister Nsima had also contested that same elections, when it wasn’t their turn to produce.

This underscores the fact that, irrespective of zoning, everyone has the right to test his political strength at the field. In 2011, when Urban were to produce the House of Assembly Member, the then sitting Member, Jack Udota, contested that elections to return to the House for the third time. Kingsley Etop, from Central zone, had also contested the elections that was zoned to Urban. This confirms that, anyone who has an aspiration, is free to contest, irrespective of zoning, all the zones are free to contest.

In 2011 Local Government elections, which Okon zone were to produce the Chairman of Council, Victor Henry from Central zone, contested the elections as Chairman, who later became the Vice Chairman, contested alongside Ekanem Willie and Aniekan Akpan, who were from Okon Zone.

There is no using the backdoor to exclude anyone from contesting. The practice for everyone to contest was long established. We cannot shift the goal post in the middle of a game. Let us continue the tradition of inclusion of all zones. A sitting Member can only be voted out, and not excluded from contesting.

On the issue of power sharing, there are three offices that has hitherto been shared in Eket, the Chairman, Vice Chairman and the Assembly seat. In 1999, When Chief Edohoeket was the Chairman, the Vice went to Central, and Okon had the Assembly seat. After Edohoeket, Emmanuel Udoh from Okon zone became the Chairman, David Lawrence from Urban was the Vice Chairman, and Jack Udota from Central had the Assembly seat.

When Aniekan Akpan from Okon became the Chairman, Victor Henry from Central became the Vice Chairman, and Urban had the Assembly seat with Ayang Akanimo. Today, Frank Archibong from Central is the Chairman, Nsikan John from Okon is the Vice Chairman, and Urban cannot be left empty.

David Lawrence, as a House Member, has put up a superlative performance in the mandate given to him by Eket people. The issue of zoning as the days unfold, will be tested at the primaries. The people will elect who they want in a properly constituted primary elections. There is no point fighting each other, elections will come and go, Eket will remain. Let us learn to be our brother’s keeper, and not antagonize each other. In the name of politics.

A REPUTATION FOUNDED ON INTEGRITY, MUST BE NURTURED BY TRUTH.

Eneh John is the Editor of Trail Reporters News, and writes from Etebi Ikot Use Ekong, Eket, Akwa Ibom State.

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