Let the war of conspiracy begin
By Edidiong Udobia
Now that elections have come and gone with the All Progressives Congress, APC failing to pick a victory in Akwa Ibom state, the die has been cast. In her desperation to oust the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP from power in the state, the APC had forced a very unlikely cohabitation of old foes. It was easy for the James Akpanudoedehes, Nsima Ekeres, and Umana Umanas of this world to fake a reconciliation with Godswill Akpabio when there was a common goal; to take over Akwa Ibom. But with the party’s abysmal loss during the elections in the state, all that is now left for these power-hungry folks to fight for are their personal interests at the national level.
For most part of Godswill Akpabio’s first term and early second term as governor of Akwa Ibom state, the politics of the state revolved around the aforementioned men. Mr. Umana, who was described as the ‘engine room’ of Akpabio’s government, was the longest serving SSG of the administration. Nsima Ekere had joggled very juicy appointments before emerging as Akpabio’s running mate and subsequently deputy governor in 2011. Udoedehe, who was Akpabio’s indefatigable campaign DG in 2007, had fallen out early and became the opposition leader in the state. Later, Ekere and Umana both left the Akpabio’s government unceremoniously.
In the wake of Akpabio’s defection to the APC in 2018 and in an effort to forge a formidable alliance ahead of 2019, some past misgivings were brought to limelight. It is true that sometimes, for an old wound to heal properly, it has to be reopened. In one of the APC’s campaigns, Akpabio’s wife, Mrs. Unoma Akpabio, while addressing the crowd, publicly confessed that her husband’s former deputy, Nsima Ekere resigned from office due to “evil conspiracy”. Shortly after, her husband, Sen Akpabio climbed the same stage and said, “eventhough I was among those who conspired against Nsima Ekere as deputy governor, I am now conspiring to bring him back”.
While no one has done Umana Umana the honours of coming public on the conspiracy that led to his embaracing exit from office, it was evident by the Gestapo nature with which he was sacked, that his exit was premeditated. So, it was not a question of if he was also a victim of conspiracy, but the question of who and who conspired against him? For Udoedehe, the public is already aware of the fact that all the accolades and praises he showered on Akpabio, Ekere, Umana and others during the campaigns were nothing but a make-believe. Ever since the Uyo-born politician fell out with the cabal, he has spent the last couple of years maligning Akpabio, Umana and Ekere by making loads of dampening allegations against the trio, who have all been his opponents (either at party primaries or at the main elections) at some point.
With the fate of the quadruplet and a few others in the party, now hanging in the balance after a woeful outing during the elections, the struggle for relevance and recognition at the center will become more realer. But unlike years back when Akpabio was the governor and had all the aces against his rivals, this time, they will all be going into the rat race on a level playing field. After all the tongue lashing they gave Governor Udom Emmanuel and the PDP during the campaigns, it is clear that they can all fight dirty. With their wealth of experience in political abracadabra and full knowledge of each other’s capabilities, the men must be bracing up to match each other conspiracy to conspiracy.
For Akpabio, who has had a good winning streak against the others, this is the first time he will be going into a fist fight with only his bare hands. Having lost his reelection bid and failed to deliver Akwa Ibom to APC as he promised, the former governor will have to weave the best conspiracies against his fellow contenders. For instance, against Nsima Ekere, Akpabio might likely begin by whispering to the ears in Aso Rock that as a governorship candidate, Ekere failed to win even his local government on February 23 and March 9, making him undeserving of any relevant appointment from the federal government. Secret documents exposing some shady deals during Ekere’s tenure as NDDC MD may also change hands. It will be a no holds barred fight so every weapon will be allowed.
Umana Umana will not be much of a problem, but for the purpose of not leaving any loose ends, the chief conspirator may likely inform Aso Rock that Umana is no longer relevant in the politics of Akwa Ibom state. The conspiracy against Umana may be supported with sentiment like, “…moreover, his current appointment was a compensation for his loss in 2015. He lost nothing in 2019 so he does not deserve any appointment again. Those who fronted the party and lost elections in 2019 should be considered first.” The conspiracy may further disparage Udoedehe and the rest as political jokers.
For Ekere, his chances will begin with how many elbows (in Aso Rock) he sufficiently greased while at the helm of the NDDC. This has been Akpabio’s biggest secret of successful conspiracies. In his own words; “what money cannot do, more money can do”. If Nsima Ekere succeed in getting the needed attention in Aso Rock, he first conspiracy will be to get Akpabio out of the way. He may have to start with the fact that Akpabio is the “most hated” politician in Akwa Ibom presently, and that his defection to APC did the party more harm than good. That sentiment may be backed up with a long list of political bigwigs who left the party the moment Akpabio joined. Ekere may even refer his audience to Engr. Ita Awak’s earlier warning. “A moral burden. He has shapelifted; but it afflicts a grave moral burden. How do we navigate to victory with this baggage” [http://citylifeblogazine.com/breaking-news/2019-akpabio-remains-apcs-greatest-moral-burden-chief-ita-awak/]
Nsima Ekere, who has been a victim of Akpabio’s conspiracy, will have to be at his all-time best this time, knowing fully that besides his political career, pride is also at stake. Moreover, this will also be a chance for him to take his own pound of flesh. Ekere may also need do “something light” against Umana.
Umana, Udoedehe and Ita Enang will be the underdogs in this war of conspiracy, but they have one thing going well for them. In 2023, Uyo Senatorial District will lay sole claim to the governorship of the Akwa Ibom. The trio will have to approach Aso Rock as a united force with a common position. They will have to push the sentiment that if APC is to make a serious contention in 2023, they (from USD) must remain relevant at the center till next election. This is very valid. After all, it was this same sentiment that earned Nsima Ekere the NDDC top job. This three have all been victims of conspiracy and they are on the edge of diminishing politically, so they will have to fight this war like it’s the last of their career because it may. For the APC in Akwa Ibom, the time for false reconciliation and fake familiarization is over. It’s time for every man to fight for himself. In a matter of time, we will see the winners and losers of the war.
Edidiong Udobia is a journalist and writes from Uyo.