By Etebong Akpan
It is an indisputable fact that no two elections are the same. That’s why indices vary in every election cycle with horse-trading and alliances assuming unprecedented proportions in most instances. The favourites of today’s permutations could end up enjoying no love lost relationship tomorrow. When it happens, seasoned players who understand the turf do not quarrel. They simply walk away or hang around with no hard feelings, waiting patiently like the vultures to swoop on the next meal which will surely come no matter how it tarries. New initiates into the game called Nigerian politics make the bulk of those who whine like kids if the system does not meet their expectations. But along the line, they have come to learn the intrigues of the game, thus becoming pros in the process. After all, there is a saying that there is no old politician. The man that is out of favour today could be the rallying point for new possibilities tomorrow. That is why pundits believe that politics is a game determined by exigencies and contemporary reality.
Part of the contemporary reality is who gets what and what does Mr A or B brings to the table to advance the cause? Today, as earlier stated, the reality of 2019 is different from that of the fast-approaching 2023. Actors of 2019 may not likely be 100 per cent stakeholders in the 2023 permutations. This is the hard reality that some politicians have failed to decode. Nobody reigns forever on this turf. The 2023 permutations in the Akwa Ibom chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, not only threw up Pastor Umo Eno as the governorship candidate but it went a step further to present Senator Akon Eyakenyi as the first female deputy governorship running mate in the state.
The choice of a female deputy governorship candidate may not sit well with some cry babies, but has it ever been with all? It is normal in life to have divergent views about one’s aspirations, especially from your household. As it is, those opposing though feebly against the choice of the distinguished senator are not doing that because she is not qualified or she doesn’t have what she is bringing to the table. The opposition is only borne out of raw and primitive envy inherent in man, especially those of the Akwa Ibom species. They can’t just fathom why it should always be her. Our Annang brothers have a saying that ke Awasiasememek adia okpoho otu owo. Dr Eyakenyi is the chosen one and the earlier some folks come to reality the better for them,especially now in this era of raised blood pressure (BP)everywhere. What the perpetual complainants should be asking is just one simple question which is: Is the senator qualified to be a deputy governor? The answer is YES! The reasons are numerous and they fit into the graph and the permutations usually considered before making the choice of a running mate.
One of the basic features of a running mate which Senator Eyakenyi fits into perfectly is that a good running mate must be somebody who understands the boss’ vision and the manifesto of the party. That is, where the governor is planning to take the state in terms of development and politics. Having traversed three administrations consistently in the state since 1999, she remains one of the most qualified persons from Oro extraction that could be nominated for the office of a deputy governor. Apart from years of political service to state and country, Mmais a loyal politician who is patient enough to wait for power and she does not have a history of obsession with the principality called power. From an ordinary supervisor to a commissioner that foresaw the Ministry of Trade and Investment in the ObongAttah era, Mrs Eyakenyi is a survivor who manages the high turnover rates of commissioners of Oro extraction during that regime. On completion of her tour of duty then, she became a federal minister in charge of the Ministry of Housing during the Goodluck Jonathan Presidency where he acquitted herself politically, socially and administratively. She was the only federal minister who was not swallowed by the Abuja political behemoth. Many have gone there and returned home more or less like the legendary Udo Ibanga who came back from the Efikland with only an empty sack.
On her return from her tour of duty as a minister, Governor Udom Emmanuel entrusted her with the responsibility of upgrading facilities at the Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic, Ikot Osurua, to meet up for accreditation by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE). It was one task she brought her experience as a retired school teacher to bear. She executed the task not only to the admiration of the state government but also to the approval of the visiting NBTE accreditation team. Today, Akwapoly ranks among one of the best polytechnics in the country.
Currently, she is a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria complementing a rich tradition of women being outstanding performers in Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District. In the National Assembly, she has shown class even to the envy of Ivy League of legislators that, yes, something good always comes from Akwa Ibom.
One still wonders why the womenfolk have not rolled out the drums to celebrate this unique nomination, considering the fact that one of the best among them has been so favoured by God. Or is it the case of it should have been me? Women constitute a good chunk of not only the voting population in the state but also those who volunteer for electoral processes. It is therefore pertinent for them to see this nomination as a recognition of their importance in the political process. Therefore, it is incumbent on them to rally around one of their own, irrespective of party affiliations, for them to rise above the much talked about 35 per cent quota to equal opportunities.
Akon is not only a woman or another typical Oron woman. She is an Akwa Ibom woman of Oro extraction. This is a plus plus in any political calculation. Her reach cuts across the three senatorial districts and I bet very few politicians from her domain can boast of such intimidating credentials. Her choice presents two possibilities; accommodating Oro’s interest and advancing the cause of Akwa Ibom women in contemporary political discourse. These two are vital ingredients for the social, political and economic stability of the state as we enter a new vista of our development drive as a people.
Moreover, a school teacher who rose through the ranks to become a principal, is a symbol of stability as it portrays someone who is patient with power and will never undermine the boss. This is the picture of a career system woman who appreciates merit and hard work, hence the perfect choice that will help supervise the educational revolution the state is set to implement in full throttle in the next dispensation.
Mrs Akon Eyakenyi is in a class of her own. Apart from the current deputy governor, her trump card is immeasurable. As a teacher, she will supervise the vision of the state government in the proposed package presented to the think tank committee set up by the state government recently. As a retired school principal, she understands protocol and loyalty. As a former commissioner for trade and investment, she is conversant with the industrialization drive of the state government while as a minister of the Federal Republic, she is vested with the workings of the different agencies of government and how to network same to the advantage of the state. As a senator, she has established links across the Niger to facilitate interstate collaboration. Then above all, as a former supervisor and also a woman, she feels the pulse of those at the grassroots. Therefore the Maintain Peace Movement national women coordinator deserves all our support to deliver for the PDP in the 2023 general elections and subsequent ones. What she is bringing to the table is rich and handful.