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OPINION | Why Umana Umana May Lose Akwa-Ibom Re-run

By Philip Obin

I’m 100% APC – body and soul, and have continued to volunteer to contribute my quota to the ideals of the party and its sustainability, but after carefully personally investigating the current state of the politics of Akwa Ibom state, carrying out a survey, and hearing from a good number of Akwa Ibomites who believe the devil they know is better than the angel they haven’t met, following the judgement of the Akwa Ibom governorship election tribunal, calling for a rerun in 18 out of 31 local governments of the state, I make bold to say that if the Akwa Ibom Governorship election rerun holds today as it were, the PDP will win against the APC squarely, unless the narrative and permutations change, even if the election is completely cancelled and a fresh one conducted in all 31 LGAs, as being appealed by Umana Umana and the APC.

Two major factors are at play here:

  1. The sustained popularity of Godswill Akpabio as the chief promoter of Udom Emanuel and the PDP in the state, plus the uncommon transformation of the state embarked upon by him (Akpabio), in the last 8 years, which wasn’t done without being overly rated and publicized as much as possible, aren’t factors to be ignored!
  1. The fact that APC’s Umana Okon Umana hasn’t been popularly sold and marketed enough to Nigerians and especially the deserving people of Akwa Ibom, even though he (Umana) has been in politics for donkey years, to enable Akwa Ibomites benchmark his integrity, antecedents and previous achievements as public office holders, with that of Akpabio, Udom and the PDP.

Although better than most previous governors of the state, Akpabio may have not done as much as he’s being celebrated, if you have to carefully benchmark his projects and achievements with the huge amounts of resources and funds made available to him throughout his tenure, but he’s not my topic today, so I will leave that for another day. However, I give it to uncommon ‘transformator.’

Again, unlike Dakuku Peterside of Rivers state who’s largely running on the goodwill and popularity of his former Governor Rotimi Amaechi, who’s not just a political bulldozer but a revolutionary politician, no very popular, reputable and influential politicians are behind Umana Umana, yet, instead of focusing on attracting such personalities, unveiling and selling himself, his agenda and plans for his people, he’s rather too busy selling APC to his people, and probably believing that just because he’s running under the platform of the party, it’s enough for him to ride its goodwill, which he really didn’t contribute to; forgetting that it wasn’t only the CHANGE mantra of the All Progressives Congress that led to President Buhari’s uncontestable victory, but also his (Buhari’s) long-standing clean records, those behind him and the crystal clear presentation of the party’s ideals and programmes sold to Nigerians as a total package.

He forgets, also, that most of the PVC holders aren’t very ‘exposed’ and already bought into the tribal sentiments allegedly sold to them by the PDP, that APC is a Northern party with an Agenda to islamise Nigeria, amongst other lies and mudslinging that characterized PDP’s campaigns in the last general elections.

Umana Umana is probably also undermining the fact that the PDP has ruled his state for some rewarding years and have also built highly financially powered political structures that won’t be easy to surmount by any means, with lots of the PDP leaders and members still in power with access to government funds and resources.

There’s also this sentiment that Nigeria shouldn’t return to a one-party state which was almost the case during the past impunitive years of the PDP at the centre, as some see the APC taking over the whole states of the federation, while others are merely sympathizers who’ll do everything possible to ensure PDP retains Akwa Ibom, in addition to the few other states they currently hold, to avoid extinction of the party.

Another factor to bring into consideration is the true fact that our economy is currently in its worst state, as oil prices have crashed to all-time low, for a nation that until this administration, relied virtually on proceeds realized from sales of petroleum products. Again, while the new government sincerely tries to quickly revive other sectors of the economy, and properly constitute itself to begin business in earnest, Nigerians have got to bear the cost of these leadership mistakes and misfortunes, hence the common Nigerian have only seen this as rather incompetence on the part of leadership of the ruling party, the APC, as lots of Nigerians who were over expectant while supporting the party (the APC), have come to the conclusion that the solutions to Nigeria’s uncountable problems and challenges aren’t with the APC, too.

Subsequently, the APC has lost some supporters, while some others who were extremely loyal and supportive to the party are now sitting on the fence, too. And unless the APC-led government intensifies its efforts to sincerely bring feasible change to Nigerians and quickly begin to fulfill its campaign promises to Nigerians, which earned them such huge support, the likes of Umana Okon Umana will have to pay for it.

My free counsel to my friend and beloved party member, Obong Umana Okon Umana, is to brace up, rise up to the occasion and go back into the field for a rigorous door-to-door campaign. He also needs to engage the right people and professionals in his campaign and up the quality of campaign, too, while bearing in mind that some of the ideals the APC sold during the last elections may no longer sell, as certain things have changed between then and now. Beyond Akwa Ibom, this must be done with assistance from party leaders and members from other states who have delivered their own states. In Akwa Ibom, the APC may have to form more structures, review existing ones and form a think-tank team that would review the dynamics and challenges faced during the last election which has now been partially cancelled; and come up with a comprehensive report and recommendations, ahead of the rerun election which should be coming up within the next 90 days.

Umana also needs to review his new media strategies, as well as embrace modern technologies available for electioneering campaigns, which the APC employed during the last general elections, especially as the party was an opposition party, just as the APC is still opposition in the state and might not have adequate access and/or funds to use the state owned traditional media for his campaign.

The national working committee of the APC should also find time amidst its very tight schedules, to also counsel Umana Umana and work hand in hand with Akwa Ibom state chapter to see Umana Umana through to victory, as well as do same for Bayelsa and Rivers states.

Finally, the APC, PDP, security agencies and other concerned bodies must collaborate and go out of their ways to sponsor campaigns that will ensure and assure Akwa Ibomites of the safety of their lives and property, before, during and after the election, otherwise we’ll have a serious case of majority of PVC holders refusing to turnout, out of fear of violence, especially after what was allegedly reported to be the security situation of the last elections in the state. Even as both parties are contesting the judgement of the tribunal and head to the appellate court, it must be done peacefully to avoid bridge of peace and order in the state, as no election is worth the life of anyone.

Philip Obin is new media and eCommerce strategist, based in Lagos and Calabar and can be reached via [email protected]

 

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