By Celestine Mel
As was expected, a lot of buzz has been generated by the release of the final list of candidates for national offices in the 2023 general elections. There were no surprises, given the slew of activities in the build up to the release. Supporters and admirers of HE Senator Godswill Akpabio, who ploughed his way through a thick self-imposed booby-trap, using the judiciary as the last test-lab to get a lifeline back on the list, are falling over themselves on my social-media timelines, to poke the success of their idol into my eyes. The crest and crescendo of the celebrations are so wild, one may think that the election is over, or that I was the opposition candidate, crushed and scorched. But I was just a vocal citizen na??
Anyways, good luck to them as they bask in the euphoria of this moment.
Moving on. I loudly mentioned in my last intervention here 👇🏾
https://www.facebook.com/owydoho.Idio/posts/pfbid02w4Yp4eB8FupHtm2RxrV3SpkPjy5CC9poB5UF5zBmZbtDBqTQRsihHKWBYuaM211gl that I do not agree with Justice Nwite’s verdict. It is not about me, as it is about the corrosiveness of bending the arms of justice to serve primordial political ends. Much as I congratulate my leader and elder brother – HE Senator Akpabio, for scaling this first important hurdle, I wish he would do as gingerly, to clinch the seat, which he left three years ago, at the close of polling in 2023. I offer my prayers and best wishes to his disciples in their bustling camp today, even though my lone support is for Bar. Emmanuel Enoidem, to get to the apogee of the senate contest. On a scale, Enoidem is head and shoulders, a more result-oriented candidate by far. I would rather wait out the process to see how it all disentangles than sink into de ja vu or joy. As a veteran in political fist-fights, there is no doubt that GOA can only be underrated at the peril of the opponent because he knows too well, how Nigeria works.
Probably I overrated the Nigerian system when I concluded that he would not be able to navigate himself through the fog of legal and political barriers within the local APC fuji-house-of-commotion. But it is not over yet, especially given the complexity and resilience of the federal structure for checks and balances, as well as the conflicting verdicts of many courts in the land, on similar disputes in many states. I am sure, this would go down to the wire. I am aware that the verdict on the case between DIG Ekpoudom and their political party – the APC, is expected to be delivered later in the week in another FCT High Court. The case is still that of the same seat. Whatever would be the outcome, it is all certain that these matters would definitely go as far as the Supreme Court, where the final answers would be gotten. Most likely, the disputes may spill into the election date and beyond. If GOA (and the APC) succeeds all the way through till the end, I would give him (them) all the support to represent me and the people of our district fully, in Abuja or Uyo, as the case may be. We shall see.
The biggest tragedy of the entire miasma, is the disintegration of the All Progressives Congress (APC) – the party of President Buhari, whose bullets I have taken severally, in Akwa Ibom State. For those who are familiar with my public advocacy, I spent many years, stumping for a time when the State’s ruling PDP would be routed by an opposition political party, in the true sense and meaning. In my miscalculation, I thought that the APC had the biggest chance of confronting and dethroning the PDP from Hilltop Mansion, Uyo. Time and again, I published critiques and roadmaps which would have spurred the APC into building the necessary internal rapprochement and cohesiveness, to catapult them into a formidable force for confronting and neutralizing the PDP. Each such intervention was like more fuel to their little internal fire-fights. The many big, prominent, rich and powerful leaders of the party, who would have risen to making needed leadership calls, simply burrowed themselves into rabbit-holes and blocked their ears and eyes to alternative advice. Each one found comfort in fighting for pecuniary crumbs with no sense of purpose for the larger grander scheme.
This is the reason the mere inclusion of the name of one of the greatest political leaders of all times in Akwa Ibom State, a former two-term governor, a former senator/senate minority leader, former minister of the republic and former presidential aspirant, as a candidate for senate election, feels like the party has just won the FIFA Football World Cup – Qatar 2022. This is a demonstration of how deep, the APC has sank. Suddenly, minor things have assumed the metaphorical symbolism of gigantic milestones, in a State yearning for a robust intercourse between ideas and alternative vision. How sad!?
I have taken time to carefully sift through the INEC final list.. Shockingly, YPP which birthed in the State few weeks ago, has returned more validly nominated and accepted candidates for the national election, than the almighty APC. APC does not have a candidate listed for Ikono/Ini Federal Constituency. Also, only their candidate for Akwa Ibom Northwest Senate seat bears the unenviable tag of “Court-Order” affixed to it. In the entire country, only Ebonyi, Edo and Akwa Ibom States have these tags which represent disputed results from contentious (pseudo) primaries.
Most of the movers and shakers of the APC in our State are either silent about the outcome or are tacitly and sometimes openly supporting candidates of competing political parties. The NNPP which is making waves, is nearly 90% made of disgruntled members of the legacy APC. The YPP formed and funded by a single unhappy breakaway member of the PDP is today, a more formidable platform than my dear APC of change. There have been a higher wave of net-decampments from all other political parties to the YPP, than there were decampments to APC, when GOA _moved_ in 2008. All in all, the APC is literally dead in Akwa Ibom.
My readers may wonder, why I spend too much time, whining and tearing-up about the APC than the PDP which has become my born-again new preference. The reason is, I still find myself more attuned to the progressive ideals symbolized by the APC, than any other political party in Nigeria. I am progressive by blood. In the build up to the primaries, I was cheerleading for VP Osinbajo as my first choice, with BAT in my reserve list. Unfortunately, the VP was floored by his leader – BAT. As I promised then, I would stump for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu for President. He was naturally top of my natural reserve list.
Additionally, I am a strong disciple of Rt. Hon. Eseme Eyibo, the APC candidate for Eket/Onna/Esit Eket/Ibeno Federal Constituency seat. He is an extraordinarily competent, calm and collected candidate whose return to the green chambers, would surely add a lot of value to our advantages within the Abuja power loop. I do not wish the APC dead in any way, nor do I wish failure to my good man – Eseme Eyiboh. I know though, that APC in its current form, is on the road to Golgotha.
It is time for them to close ranks and do whatever they can, to give some semblance of fight to the PDP. _President Buhari_ (my hero), _Asiwaju Bola Tinubu_ (my choice) and _Eseme Eyiboh_ (my good man) deserve better from the many, who have suckled and drilled the national purse through the APC machinery, in this time of test of loyalty. Is there another chance of life for the dead? I doubt it.
- Celestine Mel, ACIS, ACIBN, MBA Bangor, writes from the FCT-Abuja. He is from Essien Udim LGA, Akwa Ibom State