-By Unwana Assam-Eket
As preparations for the 2023 general elections at all levels gather striking momentum, it is the case that the age-long practice of micro-zoning in all the Federal Constituencies in the state cannot be put aside or downplayed. In the political terrain, the practice of micro-zoning elected positions into local government areas to accommodate, even the least geopolitical community has come to stay. Not only in Eket Federal Constituency, Akwa Ibom State, but in Nigeria at large. In the past few months, it’s been heard that Oron, Ikot Ekpene, Uyo, even the neighbouring constituency of Mkpat Enin are not left out in the loud song of maintaining the existing zoning system in their federal constituencies.
It is a fact that Eket federal constituency consists of four local government areas, namely: Eket, Esit Eket, Onna, and Ibeno. For record purpose, these are four distinct local government areas with political and electoral sovereignty and they have always been treated as same. No one is shortchanged, not even in the state executive council, not for any reason.
In the light of the foregoing, it is assumes that it will be a weighty slap with an enduring stain, political miscalculations, breach and a deliberate act of political delinquency to rob Ibeno Local Government of their sole turn to produce the next House of Representatives member.
Also, in a very humble opinion, for the purpose of this article, it will be a lame action and inaction to deny Ibeno House of Representatives position simply because of their unfounded boundaries agitation with Ekid. At least, what is good for the goose is also good for gander.
However, I crave the indulgence of the readers who may not have had these facts on their finger tips to walk with me down memory lane.
The Federal House position started from Eket Local Government area with Rt. Hon. (Chief) Nduese Essien (1999-2007). The first and second terms of 8 years were done uninterrupted. He was succeeded by Rt. Hon. Eseme Eyiboh and Hon. Bassey Dan Abia (2007-2015) respectively. Each of them did a single term of four years totaling 8years. Both of them are from Esit Eket Local Government area. In 2015, Hon. Mrs. Owoidighe Ekpotai was elected into the House of Representatives for a single term of four years and subsequently, in 2019, the year that witnessed one of the heart-wrenching general elections in Akwa Ibom, Hon. Patrick Ifon was elected to succeed Mma Ekpotai in the House of Representatives and as obvious as it appears, Patrick will be completing a single term of 4 years for Onna Local Government turn in 2023.Totaling of 8 years for Onna.
What else in this simple arithmetic is so difficult, logical, and systematic to analyze, understand, and give way to fairness and equity as we so crave in the political arena? This is the common fact even a common man not in politics can understand and accept that, truly, Ibeno Local Government area, without much ado or grudging argument is the next to produce a Federal House member in 2023.
While arguing on the prerogative right of Ibeno to produce the next Federal House member, I am not oblivious of the stark reality of a handful of some aspirants sprouting almost on a daily basis from the sister Local Government area – Eket to vie for the same position. While drumming to allow fairness and equity to come to play, one seems not understand the basis or criterion Eket aspirants are using to aspire for the Federal House. Well, perhaps the constitution of Nigeria, even that of the party allows every citizen to aspire for any position he/she wants. In this case, it is not out of place.
As a matter of fact, if there should be a Local Government that should give Ibeno unhindered access and unalloyed support to produce the next Federal House member, that should be Eket. This is because, Ibeno, from 1999 to 2007 stood by and supported Eket to produce and completed the double terms of 8years. Moreover, they stand the best chance of producing the Federal House member when Ibeno must have completed their term from 2023. Why the deliberate attempt of impunity against the sister Local Government? Or could it be understood that it is the usual politics as such, normal and equitable processes should not be followed anymore?
This writer understands authoritatively that, there is a serious ongoing communal crisis between the sisters local government areas of Eket, Esit Eket, Ibeno, and Onna and it is invariably assumed that, once an Ibeno man becomes the next federal house member, he will maneuver everything, including the boundary crisis in their favour thereby, turning to use the mandate to fight Ekid.
Notwithstanding, the recent vituperations of lands dispute between Ekid and Ibeno where some suspected Ibeno youths allegedly destroyed and burnt down Ekid land settlement has really ignited the hitherto peaceful people of Ekid and insulted their sensibilities and grapevine information has it that, for Ibeno youths to have taken such an ignoble action in this time where their sincerity of heart, a deep sense of diplomacy, cordiality with other local government areas and high standard of coordination among themselves is expected of them to produce the next Federal House member, the have rawly bitten more than they can chew. In a simple dictum, “they don buy market”. But in the world of reality, ” Man proposes, God, disposes”. Does anyone know tomorrow? Your guess is as good as mine.
The political formulation of 2023 will shock everybody, not even the greatest politician of all time will be able to get it all right.
As 2023 elections year draws near, it will only be fair, equitable, noble, peaceful, modest, politically right, proper and a bridge of unity and peaceful coexistence to allow Ibeno, our sister local government their deservedly chance to produce the next Federal House member even as I write with no yet candidate of my choice.
Comrade Unwana Assam is rights activist, good governance advocate, publisher of newsline9ja.com and a native of Ntakinyang