The Governorship race in Akwa Ibom State has been rather interesting this time. There has been conversations about who will stand and who will not, even as all the aspirants who went through their respective party primaries continue to prance themselves around as the candidates.
Don’t even bother with the INEC website. Their last posted list is not up to date. They have rows for APC, for example still blank, whereas the Supreme Court has okay’ed Akan Udofia and Victor Antai. Also, the INEC row for PDP still has Umo Eno and Akon Eyakenyi, who have both been removed by a recent Federal High Court judgment.
So, after all the drama so far, come March 11th, who are those eligible to stand in the Governorship elections? And who is already out?
1. Obong Bassey Albert Akpan – YPP
As of February 13, on Nigerians Decide, Bassey Albert wins the elections by a monstrous 250% gap with the immediate next runner up which is (erroneously Umo Eno of) PDP. His intimidating popularity was on display on his way from the correctional facility at Ikot Ekpene, having been locked up by well-known corrupted judgment; and his motorcade could not make a 20 minute journey to his house at Shelter Afrique in 5 hours – because the roads were jam-packed by singing crowds from Ikot Ekpene, through Ikono, Ibiono and Uyo. It is clear that this is the next Governor of Akwa Ibom State.
2. Akan Udofia – APC
Like play, like play and only God knows what happened at the Supreme Court for Akan and Victor Antai to become the standard bearers for APC. But these 2 are cool guys. Only that, it is too late for them to campaign round the state. Many Akwa Ibomites do not even know if the APC will feature in the elections or not. The clear favourite remains Bassey Albert whose leadership is considered a clean break from the harsh arrogant administration of Udom Emmanuel.
3. Ezekiel Nya-Etok – ADC
The architect has contested in the last 2 to 3 elections and lost. Before joining the ADC, he had run on the PDP platform, but of course, he is not of the same stuff as his former associates in PDP and APC, which is why he smoothly left for another party. He is cleared to run for Governorship.
4. Senator John James Akpan-Udoedeghe – NNPP
Brave Senator Udoedeghe who recently exited the APC, a party he helped extend to Akwa Ibom State at formation, is running on the platform of the NNPP. He is popular for standing up to the scary administration of Godswill Akpabio in the early 2010s. Though funny and popular amongst Uyo locals, many had since turned allegiance to Albert of the YPP and Udo-Edeghe does not stand a chance.
5. Iboro Otu – AAC
The widely-travelled fine and intelligent gentleman, Iboro Otu is once again running for Governorship, this time on the platform of the AAC. Together with Nya-Etok, Udoedeghe, Ekere Essien and Bassey Albert, Otu performed well at the Governorship debates organised by the NUJ, supported by Clement Isong Foundation and other partners. Though fanciful amongst cosmopolitan Akwa Ibom youths and intellectuals, he is far from the frontlines given his lack of experience and unpopular departure from some of the collective expectations of Akwa Ibomites. Of course, he also doesn’t have the wherewithal to pull through in elections like these.
Note that in the Governorship debates, both the PDP and the APC candidates pulled out last minute citing several laughable reasons. But everybody knew that their uncertainty on who would fly their respective flags occasioned the decision to withdraw. After the debates, Akan Udofia was announced as the rightful candidate for the APC – he would have cherished an opportunity to feature, actually – and Umo Bassey Eno’s attempt to appeal the High Court judgment that kicked him out of the race, was further thrown out.
The other candidates featuring in the race are listed below;
6. Emem Coffie – Accord Party
7. Abasiekeme Mfonobong Ekanem – AA
8. Dr. Ekere Essien – ADP
9. Ita Bassey Ekpo – APGA
10. Eyo Eyo Ekong – APM
11. Ephraim Mbaba – APP
12. Akaninyene Ekpenyong – BP
13. Uko Usen Okon – LP
14. Kubiat Bassey Etang – NRM
15. Sunday Francis Ekanem – PRP
16. Emem Monday Udoh – SDP
17. Nsikak Hogan Thomas – ZLP