For effect, let’s say this again: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom State is blessed beyond be-careful. The party has huge deposits of men, women and youth. People are PDP’s most bankable resource. When it comes to politics or government, 99.99% of Akwaibomights think PDP first. 

This is the reason the rich and fastest-developing South-South state has recorded only about 1% electoral loss in the last 24 years. Every election in the state has almost always been a clean sweep for PDP. However, this PDP ubiquity, this PDP unanimity, has a downside. Just anyone can become anything once armed with the party’s ticket; that is, once such a one becomes candidate of the party. 

Although this is a topic for another day, one cannot let this chance slide to steal in a few soft knocks on the head. The party will gain better, higher and greater traction with the masses and, therefore, more and easier electoral victories the moment it starts ensuring verifiable justice; the moment it stops excellencifying nonsense and nonsensifying excellence in terms of who’s fielded and who’s not. Even nationally, what has tended to affect the chances of the party that has a track record of performance is the way it plays politics with justice, and with merit, and with truth. Dear PDP, per time allow quality over favouritism; allow justice over politics and watch how no party shall see your brakelights. 

There’s no gainsaying the fact that PDP is a sweetheart party. Nigerians remember Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’Adua (of blessed memory) and Goodluck Jonathan (as they then were) and cannot help but smile away the nostalgia of excellence. PDP gave Nigerians a good time, 85%. Whether the party that succeeded PDP in 2015 and which has now ruled for eight consecutive years has performed worse is for the people to say, as this writer is too thankful to outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari to go anywhere near criticising him or his party! 

I cannot come and kill myself because -as my people say- you should not play hide and seek when you have a cough. Back to winning ways: PDP is blessed with correct people. In Akwa Ibom, the party is blessed with a complete leader who brings to the table of elections everything you need to win. Gov. Udom Emmanuel is a dangerous politician, an even more dangerous strategist and -even if you don’t like- a most dangerous (ward) leader. 

This tongue speaking, prayer warrior, born again Christian (an ordained deacon of many decades standing) is dangerous on all fronts. One, he always operates under the radar. They never see him coming; yet, he always comes -in full force. Two, in spite of and despite all he has achieved as a politician whom those who think they are say he is not, they still -to their chagrin- underrate him. 

At the wee stages of the third quarter of 2013, when against the run of play he became secretary to the state government straight from zenith bank boardroom, most of those enjoying under him today (plus including yours sincerely) did not give him a dog’s chance to emerge next governor. When he became and later had to seek reelection, flies who like to follow the corpse into the grave maintained that he was politically finished because he then walked alone following the sudden crosstitution of his erstwhile political benefactor to the opposition. That is how and when the man introduced the evergreen phrase “Only God” into the political lexicon of the state. At the end, the 2019 governorship ballot -Honourable Commissioner Ini Ememobong told me on live radio- rubbished forever “the manification of God and the godification of man”. 

Truly, 2019 taught Akwa Ibom the unforgettable lesson that God is not man and man can never be God. Not only did Gov. Emmanuel win second term more convincingly than his first election executed by “the teacher”, the latter who had abandoned him midair to seek a senatorial encore through another party performed abysmally; losing his place in the red chambers. As the wounded lion returns in the Akwa Ibom Northwest senatorial poll slated for February 25 -one political showdown he cannot afford to lose, I can tell you because I know -that Gov. Udom Emmanuel is too smart not to know the implications of this particular election. Fortunately, PDP has thrown up a Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem: an old soldier, a solid fighter and ‘a Moses who understudied Pharaoh”. 

You must forgive all the digression, mbok (Akwa Ibom for please). I am not always like this. It is politics that has deflowered or messed up my innocence. You cannot discuss politics without going off into areas that don’t concern you; the same way politicians do; for instance, lawmakers in flaunting how much they attracted to their constituency never mention even one law they proposed and ensured! 

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What do I even know, sef? As we were saying, Gov. Udom Emmanuel is PDP’s 2023 talisman numero uno in Akwa Ibom state. After taking office in 2015, the governor quickly ran back to his native Local Government Area of ONNA to take charge of what is his primary political structure. At an elaborate meeting called and attended by the governor in person, the political class elected all 12 Ward Leaders (with the governor himself having emerged Ward Leader of Awa 1, choosing a former chairman of the local government, Hon. Ufot Sunday Akpan, as place-holder). 

Taking charge of the home front is something most top politicians never do; which is why they always end up swallowed up by the one people who should have been their backbone. By organising ONNA well, Gov. Emmanuel set a good example which we at AKWA IBOM STATE WARD LEADERS UNION found sweet to copy. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same of many other top politicians. Fortunately for them and PDP though, this piece is not about them. 

This entry is about distinguished Ward Leaders who by their actions assure me as President General of The UNION that the Ward Leader is PDP’s electoral masterkey. Next is the party Akwa Ibom State chairman, Rt. Hon. (Elder) Aniekan Akpan: tactician, team player and visionary. He is slow water that runs quite deep. He is there almost like he is not there but gets things done, beautifully. 

His local government area of birth, Ukanafun, remains one single, united front. The state chairman, apart from having ceded his place as Ukanafun Ward IV Leader to Engr. Ekpenyong Ekpenyong, one of those young politicians Nigeria should watch out for, has since his emergence not had one of those fights with the political leader of the local government area, Obong Eno Akpan. Rt. Hon. (Elder) Aniekan Akpan has, thankfully, remained focused, peaceable, accessible, tolerant; representing everything that is the hallmark of someone desiring victory. For now, only one thing he’s yet to do for The UNION keeps ward leaders from scoring him 100 over 100! 

As we prepare to punctuate this discourse, any moment now, the last (he shall soon be number one) Ward Leader that we must discuss before we let it off is PDP Akwa Ibom state governorship standard-bearer, Pastor Umo Eno. His is an incredible story of how God can turn nothing to something. When he set out with his five-room hotel in Eket, Akwa Ibom State, 25 years ago, which has today metamorphosed into Royalty Group, he told his wife, Patience, he wanted to govern the business. They agreed he’d be called Governor of Royalty Hotels. 

In the course of time, Pastor Umo Eno’s selfless political, social and humanitarian contributions made him the goldfish who has no hiding place. Like play, like play, the hitherto apolitical Governor of Royalty Group found himself at a meeting of Ibiakpan Obotim Ward II, Nsit Ubium LGA, during which his people (led by Hon. Ibanga Brownson, who’s today the party’s northeast senatorial district chairman) almost against his will made him Ward Leader. 

He led the ward excellently well but still never saw the full picture even after having been appointed Honourable Commissioner, Lands & Water Resources. Although the incoming governor has chosen Obong Friday Akpan as stand-in Ward Leader, The UNION believes Pastor Umo Eno is another strong reason PDP shall again win Government House, Uyo on March 11. 

Pastor Umo Eno, in addition to being about the only governorship candidate with known physical investments in the state, has the capacity, character and competence to be governor. He’s a human being, a total leader; Pastor Umo Eno: knows how to listen, and is also humble and compassionate. The evening of last Saturday, just about rounding off his epochal town hall interactive session with professional and interest groups at Ibom Icon Hotels & Golf Resort, he whispered to the compere, Mr Raphael Edem, KSM, to request the crowd peopled by top professionals and special persons of interest to wait for dinner and him to come around all the over 300 tables in the hall to greet. Watching both happen almost immediately thereafter, it felt different to see an Akwa Ibom big man show such humanity! 

… to be continued next Monday