Effiong Bob

-Samuel Ayara

It is two months since political parties rounded-off primaries to select candidates for the 2023 General elections. As with time, some wounds are healing while a number of others require more, including wishing the 2022 electoral act had not come into force, not overlooking zoning and over monetization of the process which some who were edged out now blame. Whatever phenomenon evolves from the processes; winners had emerge and the coming elections is between them and the people.

Next to these emergence, all eighteen political parties before hitting the streets on campaigns would have to explore the customary option of reconciliation to help cool-off ruffled feathers and brighten their electoral chances. This has always been the window where eggs are broken for political omelettes, concessions and commitments extracted to ensure those who lost do not wank away the party’s chances at the General elections. 

At the moment, majority of political parties in Akwa Ibom State are yet to commence any known effort towards reconciliation, party men are now more emboldened to square up in gloves, contesting the various outcomes with such bile that could hamper any chance at amicable resolution. In testing the party’s hitherto courted supremacy, party leaders are not having it easy with getting aggrieved party faithful to take sight at the other side of winning with fortitude; some aspirants hope of achieving through the courts what they couldn’t at the primaries has replaced peace. 

In getting every unit of the party to work and stay strong beyond the primaries, the Peoples Democratic Party has been exemplary in building longer tables than walls in the inauguration of a reconciliation committee to bring every aggrieved party member together. More than its traditional disposition to continually expand the holding capacity of the umbrella, the Elder Aniekan Akpan choice of members of this committee have been stellar, instructive and well thought out; it is a widely held opinion that it is the best the party could have considered.

The character of committee men and women has been impeccable. With the Senator Effiong Bob’s led reconciliation committee, one can see people who have been politically successful as much as they have at a point or another come by experiences that also left them aggrieved. Some of them regardless of the patches from their experience stayed while others who settled for taking a walk can better help aggrieved party men relate with realities on the other side of the divide. 

A collection of Senator Effiong Bob, Hon. Imo Ibokette, Chief Assam Assam, Sen, Aloysius Etok, Barr. Uwem Ekanem, Sen. Emmanuel Ibokessien, Dr. Ekaette Ebong Okon, Sir. Michael Essang, Sir Udo Kierian Akpan, Prof. Imaobong Akpan and Mr. Okon Okon could lack every thing but certainly not the integrity, experience, maturity and resolve their assignment requires. They all possess such mien that passes them for people who can broker workable conciliatory deals; a great asset the PDP in times like this can trust.

This is one committee with a very rich history of political perseverance. Senator Bob for example in 2011 was safely coasting to a third term mandate at the Senate of the federal republic, but was stopped by people who would rather see the party lose the seat than have him return. He lost that bid, but never gave into bitterness with either the party or people who midwived the outcome. Years after, he has remained in the party and faithfully so, while virtually all those who either benefitted or masterminded his ouster have left the party.

The story of Senator Bob’s political maturity and steadfastness should be a lesson politicians must arm themselves with. He has counted both gains and losses but unyieldingly sticks to character and a rare political ideology that has in the long run conferred on him the trust of his people and in ways than few demystified politics of acrimony; in the consciousness that every season cannot be his’. Not just the 2011 experience, it could be recalled that his 2023 gubernatorial ambition had remained quite close to his heart; so dear a project, but he spared no thought of it when the odds never played in his favour.

In Bob’s words, “opposition is better than enmity”, a clear call on those currently leading various agitations to avoid degenerating to hatred, but reflect on when they were beneficiaries of the sysytem and be honest enough to note that they were not at such times the very best of the pack. In this regard, he spares no effort reminding both the winners and losers of the concept of time promising that there will always be more for the resilient and patient.

To achieve a common front for the PDP as we inch closer to the 2023 polls, Senator Bob has through several interactions assured that Pastor Umo Eno will build more tables to accomodate more people, making it clear that his choice as the party gubernatorial standard bearer could not have gone without the perceived heat; nothing good he agrees come easy. The Nsit Ubium born political maverick is convinced that better days are here for the state and believes the governorship flagbearer, being a man who is not given to vendetta would yield to plausible inputs from all persuasions. 

There are cupious mention of concessions other members of this very sensitive committe have made; they all have their stories with winning and losing that can hasten every perceived aggrieved person to peaceful resolutions. Their approach to delivering on this assignment further expands the possibility of deepening “a no Victor no vanquished” ideology, as both winners and those who could not clinch the party’s ticket are assured of a stakeholder role in governance. Whoever placed service above individual sentiments would think more about collective goals, and not consider rocking the boat that once gave them safe voyage.

As of last count, this committee has seen more than 200 aspirants, tinkering ways of helping them go past injuries from the outcome of the party primaries. These include aspirants who won and lost the party tickets to the State House of Assembly, House of Representatives and Senate. While these effort continues, reconciling the Governorship aspirants would be the height of the committee’s endeavour. So far they are in talks with nine of the fourteen aspirants, and the people may not necessarily expect a closure with all of them, but this effort, if sustained will birth for PDP brighter days where a consoling majority of the aspirants and people can accept the outcomes as the people’s verdict.

More than reconcile the aspirants, this committee also has a responsibility of bringing together critical stakeholders whose interests at the just concluded exercise appear bruised and compromised. There is hardly any of the 31 Local Government Areas of the state that does not have leaders who need to be talked with, to address some differences that may have stemmed from zoning, concessioning, ego or perceived imposition from certain quarters; the committee must find such justification that quickens the polity to how much we need everyone, by leaving no stone unturned.

The people more than a passive note will always win when politics more than gains is viewed from the prism of service, responsibility and privillege. Like Bob and other sane minds on our political turf, perseverance and strength of character should tower above the desire to cash out when things work at variance with our political projections. 

Of the truth, many who have course to listen to this reconciliation committee would be glad they did; nobody deserves the brutality of being left in the cold when they could have accepted the olive branch. More than the PDP, it would be alluring to find other parties walk this path of reconciliation to stem the tide of avoidable animosities and put Akwa Ibom as the ultimate winner.

Samuel Ayara writes from Ibong Otoro in Abak LGA.