As the December 2 local government elections in Akwa Ibom draw nearer, preparations occasioned by aggressive campaign, lobbying, horse trading, rallies from state organized campaigns to ward tours by political parties have taken the center stage of activities in Akwa Ibom.
Last week, the All Progressive Congress (APC) had a rally attended by the party chieftains such as the national chairman Chief John Oyegun, the chairman of APC governors' forum, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, member of board of trustees of APC Atuekong Don Etiebet, managing director of NDDC Obong Nsima Ekere, senior special assistant to president Mohammedu Buhari on National Assembly matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, and Obong Okon Umana, the party's flag bearer in the 2015.
Apart from the rally in Uyo, the impact of APC is not felt in terms of campaign and mobilization at the grassroots, even though Okorocha had advised the Akwa Ibom people to swallow APC as a prescribed pill to cure corruption.
There appears to be a serious challenge before top leaders of the APC in the state. One of the challenges is how they can match their talk with action by delivering their areas during the election.
Such council areas are Ikot Abasi, home of the minister of budget and national planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma and Obong Nsima Ekere, the managing director of Niger Delta Development Commission; Uyo local government where chieftains of the APC, Senator James Akpan Udoedehe; Nsit Ubiom Local government area, home of Obong Umana Okon Umana, a former secretary to Akwa Ibom State government and APC governorship candidate in the 2015 gubernatorial election in Akwa Ibom.
Other council areas where APC must deliver to prove their relevance in Akwa Ibom include Oruk Anam, the home of Otuekong Don Etiebet. In Ini and Ikono council areas, Senator Alloysius Etuk who has just defected to APC must prove his relevance in the face of the party. Another hotspot for APC to win would be Oron nation where Senator Effiong Bob comes from. He recently defected to APC on the floor of the National Assembly.
Unfortunately for the APC, the only member of Akwa Ibom State house of assembly on the APC platform dumped the party two weeks ago to join PDP, making it difficult for Senator Nelson Effiong to gather fresh supporters for the December 2 council poll.
In Ibesikpo Asutan council area, Obong Victor Attah, a former governor of the state and an APC chieftain has a duty to deliver his local government. But he will have Prince Uwem Ita Etuk, the former state chairman of PDP and immediate past commissioner in the state to contend with.
In Oruk Anam, Etiebet will have to battle with Udom Emmanuel's men from the local government. In Eket and Onna local governments, the governor will have to proof his popularity by winning convincingly.
However, there has been the fear that the PDP government in the state, as is always the case, may not allow the opposition APC access to original election materials. The APC raised the alarm on this a long time ago.
Even during its recent rally, the party also expressed reservations on this. The party leaders warned against the manipulation of the electoral process by the PDP government.
In Ikot Ekpene and Essien Udim, Senator Godswill Akpabio will need to show his strength for the PDP.