With the formal release of the time table for the conduct of the 2023 elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the coast is gradually becoming clear for politicians aspiring for certain offices to get to the drawing board and plot their winning strategies.
That is not to say that the politicians have not been doing their thing before now. No. in fact, plans for the next election actually begins from the day the last election processes end. So, the people are always planning. Sometimes, you hear them talk about permutations for an election that is expected to happen in another eight years. Politicians surely have their own way of plotting graphs.
In Akwa Ibom, the game has already started, ahead of the 2023 election. It is almost very likely that the next governor will come from the Uyo senatorial district. But what is not certain at all is who the successor to the current governor, Udom Emmanuel will be.
Will it be Udom Inoyo? Will it be Akan Okon? Will be it be Onofiok Luke? Will it be Senator Effiong Bob? Will it be Senator Bassey Albert, the man that everybody prefers to call OBA? Will it be Michael Bush? Will it be Prince Enobong Uwah? Will it be Dr Iniobong Essien? Will it be Okon Okon, Will it be Ini Ememobong? Will it be Senator Ita Enang? Will it be Senator John Akpan Udoedeghe, Will it be Umanah Okon Umanah? Will it be Akan Udofia?
The governor has already said he would not impose his successor. Maybe. Maybe not. He has also said it is God that will reveal his successor to him. Maybe. Maybe not. But there have been insinuations in various circles that he is plotting to succeed himself. He is believed to have favoured his name sake-Udom Inoyo. Which is why questions are being asked, will another Udom take over as governor?
There is hardly any time this matter is being discussed that Inoyo’s name would not pop up. People are quick to say that Udom’s body language shows that he would prefer to hand over the mantle to another Udom, the retired vice chairman of Exxon Mobil Nigeria, the technocrat, the business man, the Lagos boy, just like Udom, the present governor.
Those who suspect that Udom may take over from Udom may not be wrong afterall. It is said in political circles that Inoyo played some very significant roles in securing victory for Udom to emerge governor in 2015, just as it has been claimed that Inoyo was the one who inspired the appointment of Udom as secretary to the state government, a position that gave him the exposure and created the opportunity for him to run as governor.
Somehow, Udom’s intention to hide his preference for Inoyo has not succeeded. Recently, he appointed him into the team that was to oversee the post COVID 19 Recovery processes.
Inoyo himself has not been invisible in the public glare. It is very rare not to find him in public programmes. He is believed to be assisting secondary school students in the state in the area of scholarship, under a foundation he established.
An online newspaper based in the state recently reported that Inoyo is not sleeping over the mater at all. He has formed and inaugurated ward and local government committees to campaign for him to becoming the next governor. He is said to be indirectly instrumental to the emergence of the present PDP state executive council at the state level.” This cannot be independently confirmed though.
But how far can he go? How far can Udom carry him through the crucibles and challenges of campaigns and election maneuvering, to make him governor in a place like Akwa Ibom?
Some years ago, about 2000 workers of Exxon Mobil were sacked. That happened when he was vice chairman of the oil giants. There have been allegations that he knew something about the sack of those workers. His accusers may be right. Or they may be wrong. But this is one issue that he would have to deal with at the right time.
Udom himself may have a lot of work to do, to sell an Inoyo candidacy to the people, if God ends up revealing to him that Inoyo is the man. The natural apprehension would be that another Udom on the saddle may not be too good for the state. There are fears that voters will be quick to point to the slow pace of development in the state, despite the huge amount that has accrued to the state, from the federation account and from internally generated revenue sources.
The Ekom Iman Flyover project is one of the failed projects that the people would keep talking about as basis to work against anybody endorsed by Udom as his successor. As at now, it takes an eternity to travel from Uyo, the state capital, to Abak, a journey that is not supposed to take more than 10 minutes. The governor does not seem to care about what the residents are going through on daily basis, trying to find their way into and out of Abak, following his failure to complete the flyover project which he started some years ago.
Inoyo may just be a good man. But he may suffer what Dr Bob Ekarika suffered in 2007, when the then governor, Victor Attah positioned the former commissioner for health, his son-in-law, to succeed him as governor. It did not work. That was how Senator Godswill Akpabio was able to succeed Attah. Will Udom be able to do what Attah could not do?