From Joe Effiong, Uyo
The Akpabio family in Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State has succeeded in sending two of their sons to two different levels of the legislature on different platforms in the country.
While the senior, Senator Godswill Akpabio returns on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the senate after a four-year hiatus, his younger nephew, Mr Ukpong Akpabio, was on Saturday elected on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to represent Essien Udim State Constituency in Akwa Ibom House of Assembly.
Ukpong Akpabio who is the immediate past commissioner for trade and investment in the state, won against the run of play when he beat the APC candidate, Mr Uduak Etim Udom, and those of other political parties to emerge victorious in an area in which only three weeks ago APC candidates thrashed all the PDP candidates and capped it all with the election of Sen Godswill Akpabio.
Ukpong Akpabio who used to be Senator Akpabio’s Man Friday when the senior Akpabio was serving as commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs and later governor of Akwa Ibom State, parted ways with his uncle when the senator defected with, another family member, Ibanga Akpabio, then also a commissioner in Udom’s cabinet, to APC in August 2018.
Akwa Ibom State governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel had to replace Ibanga with Ukong in the state cabinet by immediately appointing him commissioner for trade and investment, till he resigned early last year to contest the current House of Assembly.
But it is not only Ukpong Akpabio that has sprung surprises in last Saturday’s election. All other PDP candidates in Ikot Ekpene senatorial district which had exacted the tsunamic trouncing of most of the PDP candidates in the last National Assembly election managed to sail through except in Ikono, where the Young Progressive Party candidate, Mr Asuquo Nnanna Udo, was able to beat the PDP candidate, Mr Itoro Colomba.
The YPP candidate for Ibiono Ibom state constituency, Moses Essien also beat the PDP candidate Obong Godwin Ekpo, who was trying to return to the House for the second term.
Except in the Abak state constituency where the election was declared inconclusive just as that of the Abak Federal constituency where the supplementary election is still pending, and the two seats that YPP has snatched, PDP has swept the rest of the seats in the 26-member state legislature.
One other interesting thing is that for the first time, four women, namely, Dr Itoro Etim, for Uruan State constituency, Selina Ukpatu for Ikot Abasi/Eastern Obolo. Kenim Onofiok for Oron Udung Uko and Precious Selong for Urueffong/Uruko would spice the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly, which is a departure from the usual token representation by one or two women.
Apart from Mfom Idung from Etim Ekpo/Ika state constituency, Kufreabasi Edidem from Itu, Otobong Bob from Nsit Ubium and Asuquo Nnanna Udo from Ikono, the rest are state legislative neophytes,
The speakership is zoned to Ikot Ekpene senatorial district which has Mfon Idung and Nnanna Udo as the only ranking members, But Udo is now in the opposition YPP which normally should make him automatically a minority leader.
It is not known whether the House would elect a non-ranking member as it did in 2015 when Aniekan Uko emerged as the Speaker in just his state House of Assembly.