Tuesday, 19 May 2015

AKHA 6th Assembly debacle- The race for speakership

AKHA 6th Assembly debacle- The race for speakership

With less than five weeks to the in auguration of the sixth Assembly, the battle to produce and install the next Speaker of the House of Assembly is waxing to a crescendo. Also, the permutations, calculations and political maneuverings have also geared up. At the end of the day, whoever emerges as the Speaker, will attest to the fact that it was not a stroll in the park.

According to power sharing formulae in the state, with the governorship and deputy governorship positions of the next government ceded to Eket Senatorial District and Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District respectively, the next powerful position in the next arm of government which is the Speaker of the House of Assembly should go to Uyo Senatorial District.
And with only two ranking or returning lawmakers from Uyo Senatorial District in the sixth Assembly, either of them should emerge as the Speaker. The two returning lawmakers will be Barr. Onofiok Luke from Nsit Ubium and Barr. Ime Okon from Ibiono Ibom. Luke will be returning to the House on the back of a tortuous re-election bid that saw him swimming against the tide which arose courtesy of a fictitious few months’ reunion with his political godfather Governor Godwill Akpabio.

Although father and son later returned their relationship to a cordial note, Luke had to pass through storms before picking the PDP ticket for Nsit Ubium State Constituency. And although they have kissed and made up, the larger Akpabio Family is reportedly not overtly comfortable with the young lawyer who is said to be “too independent minded” for their liking. Even when he fought a well documented battle of his life to pick the PDP ticket, attempts to snatch it from him by the “power cabal” after the nomination was thwarted by a combined effort of Senator Effiong Bob and the political class of Nsit Ubium. Also, the governor’s heart of love towards Luke who was branded a prodigal son prevailed at the end.   

Luke’s chance of becoming speaker looks brighter than it was few months ago. This is because he is gradually returning as a favorite political son of the governor, who, though will be serving as a Senator from May 29 will still have a say on what happens in the next dispensation, at least in its formative period. Luke boasts of a healthy political CV which includes stints as a University SUG President and speaker of Nigeria Youth Parliament.

Also his popularity and wide acceptance by youths in the state will be a plus for the next administration if he gets the nod. However, the pre-election debacle which saw him in the black books of his political godfather could have a negative effect. He needs to earn the trust of the “power clique” where he was once a fringe member. The Ibiono Ibom State Constituency lawmaker is another favorite to pick the speaker seat.

When the incumbent speaker, Sam Ikon was rumoured to be on his way out penultimate year after falling out with Hilltop Mansion, Ime Okon was touted as the man with “blessings from above” to take over from him.  However, Ikon survived the scourge and became undoubtedly “loyal”. Because of this, the Fifth Assembly was tagged as rubber stamp. This may set the tone for the next Assembly.

Okon is an avid loyalist of Bassey Albert, the Senator-elect of Uyo Senatorial District. Having come close to being made a speaker, Okon is on familiar terrain. His record as a chairman of Ibiono Ibom local government area also adds to his political CV.

However, his relationship with OBA could spell doom for him. Reasons for this are purely political. OBA is not hiding his desire to be governor after the tenure of Udom Emmanuel. Although the “power clique” seems to assure OBA on this, eight years is a long time to come and things could change with time especially if someone else emerges as the favoured one.

The uncertainties hovering around Luke and Okon could tilt the sale in favour of a first time lawmaker, Dennis Akpan or any other first time lawmaker from Uyo Senatorial District. This is because the constitution clearly does not bar first timers from emerging as speaker.

Of all the first timers from Uyo Senatorial District, Akpan stands as the one that could earn the trust of the “power clique”. His case is boosted by his likely endorsement of the party (PDP) whose chairman is from Etinan. Also, Akpan has served in the legal committee of the state PDP where he worked to earn the trust of the “cabal.” If the convoluted idea of electing a first timer as speaker is sold successfully, then he stands a chance.

Meanwhile, the implication is that the sitting senator, Sen. Ita Enang and the present senator-elect, Mr. Bassey Albert Akpan are both from Ibiono Ibom L.G.A as well as Ime Okon who is perceived to have been anointed by Udom as the speaker of the 6th Assembly. What then will happen to other local government areas of Uyo Senatorial District? Does it mean that they don’t have credible Members in the House of Assembly to be given the speakership position? Udom should answer this question before taking his decision on the matter.

It is rather an unarguable “concrete fact” that with the well-known political tradition of the PDP which gave Udom the controversial victory as well as the privilege to directly or indirectly appoint the speaker for the 6th Assembly, his sensitivity to be able to escape the accusation of favouring Ibiono with the position would do him real good. This also implies the misfortune that Dennis Akpan has the hope of being chosen. The favored one for this exalted office therefore would be the “second timer”, Barr. Onofiok Luke from Nsit Ubiom. The eyes of the people are watching.

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