Next Akwa Ibom Governor Should Emerge From Eket – Ben Edokpayi


With the timetable now set for next year’s elections, Akwa Ibom State is at another political crossroads twenty seven years after it was carved out of the southwestern portion of Cross River State.

And the recurring question among political pundits and citizens of the state is what Senatorial District will produce the next governor of the State?

The debates have been heated and opinions diverse even though there is still a long way to go before the selection of candidates. And that is the way it should be in the new political dispensation.

The indisputable fact, however, from those with roots in the Eket Senatorial District incorporating Onna, Oron, Ikot Abasi and Ekid, is that the time is now for the Eket Senatorial District to produce the next governor of the state.

The antecedents are clear. Since the creation of the state in 1987, Uyo and Ikot Ekpene Senatorial Districts have produced the state’s governors, and it is only politically sound, fair and equitable for the next governor to come from Eket.

Some will argue that Eket has already had its fair share by mentioning the late Brigadier U.J. Esuene, but that will be resorting to political dishonesty because Esuene governed what was then known as South Eastern State, after the Eastern Region was split into three states, including East Central and Rivers State, more than 40 years ago.

Others would spotlight the late Dr. Clement Nyong Isong, another Eket native, as having graced the corridors of power, but Isong was elected Cross River State governor way before Akwa Ibom state was created.

Even the incumbent Governor Godswill Akpabio has clearly expressed his support for an Eket candidate in 2015, and he should be lauded for being an astute statesman willing to entrench political equity and fairplay in the system after two successful terms in office.

The Akwa Ibom state governor’s position on this matter was clearly emphasized when he spoke recently at a thanksgiving service organized for the secretary to the State Government (SSG), Deacon Udom Emmanuel.

“Since Obong Attah, an Ibibio from Uyo, ruled for eight years, and I, an Ibibio from Ikot-Ekpene, would have also ruled for eight years in 2015, it is now the turn of the Ibibio from Eket to produce the next governor.

“It is the turn of the Ibibio of Eket, not Uyo and Ikot-Ekpene districts. There will be no rigging next year. The votes will be protected. In 2015, the people of Eket should find a young man or woman to take over from me,” said the governor at the service held at the Qua Iboe Church, Awa-Iman.

Aside from the fact that there are a plethora of worthy candidates that can build on the successes of Governor Akpabio, it is important to recognize that the major source of the state’s economic well being is located in the Eket Senatorial District. A considerable amount of the nation’s oil production is from onshore and offshore facilities in the Eket Senatorial District.

While there has been muted grumblings from indigenes in the adjoining Oro local government council area, the general consensus is that they will be back an Eket candidate, as clearly indicated in recent statements by two leading sons from that local government area: Minister of Science and Technology Prof. Ita Bassey Ewa, former Deputy Governor Etim Okpoyo.

The umbilical cord that binds the Eket and Oro people is also the same one that connects almost all the ethnic groups in Akwa Ibom State. You only need to look at the historical trajectory of the people of this state to understand that everyone is from the same stock even though the dialects have morphed into different languages over time.

This fact could not have been more clearly defined in a keynote address by Professor Des Wilson at the 2013 Eket National Congress, when he reminded his audience that at one point in history Eket was at the epicenter of migration of various groups in the area.

According to Wilson, “at least it has been clearly established that the Ekid people founded Oro and Annang groups while many sections of Ibibio society from Onna, Etinan, Ibesikpo, Nsit Ubium and Itu provide indications that they may have migrated from Eket with the appendage of Eket (Ekit) to the names of their towns and villages.”

While not advocating for any candidate at this point,  the indisputable fact that the next governorship candidate should be from this area is clear, and the electorate should send a loud and clear message early that the next political dispensation should carry the masses along and not feed us bread crumbs as has often been the case.

And to bring this issue into sharper focus, I would again gracefully refer to the keynote address from Professor Wilson when he said: “While the politicians seem to be engaged in a despicable race to rape the nation in a manner similar to the gold rush in California in the 19th Century, no one seems to care about the plight of the downtrodden and the pockets of minority ethnicities whose lands have been the epicenter of this ravaging storm.”

“Indeed, the ethnic storm troopers are quite often satisfied with the style of their mindless destruction of helpless people who occupy these lands as long as they put the people’s resources in their pockets,” emphasized Professor Wilson in the keynote speech before a packed hall at the Esit Eket Local Government Council Premises last October.

Ben Edokpayi ( or, a Journalist and Strategic Communications Consultant, is a Nigerian-American with roots in both Edo and Akwa Ibom States.


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