As voters there is need for us to flash back our minds for few minutes to examine, the difference in the performance of the present representative of Ikono/Ini Federal Constituency, Obong Emmanuel Ukpong-Udo and others in the same position before him, as well as assess the capacity of prospective aspirants seeking to challenge his re-election in 2023.
Indeed, it doesn’t require any complex analysis to arrive at the verdict that his remarkable performance in just 30 months in office is many folds better than the scorecards of every other representative. In fact, within his brief tenure so far if benefits are quantified, they are obviously more in value than two that in terms by his predecessors. This is a statement of fact.

From all ramifications, there is no way the positive advantages of his representation when re-elected can be compared to what any of those out to contest against him have the capacity to do as a first time representative. Their capacity as defined by their antecedents, leadership character and political strength cannot make any of them capable of rendering outstanding performance to subdue the numerous historic achievements so far recorded by the current member even when his tenure has not been exhausted. Empowerment, for example, has already overwhelmed their collective past records put together.

Rep Ukpong Udo in a chat with other members of Parliament

The impact of the present representative is so astonishing to the point that electorates overwhelmingly agree that Ukpong-udo is the undisputed best of them all. And to ensure that he spreads dividends of democracy to touch every household as he promised during the last yuletide, they submit that his second term aspiration should not be compromised for any lesser bargain proposed by other contenders. And as a matter of fact, none has the capability to offer any superior representation given their pedigree.

Also, unlike in the local political environment, at national congregations like the National Assembly, lack of bargaining power, creative ability to conceive people-oriented programmes of relevance, political lobbying strength and courage to dare, hinder performance. In addition to the lack of a selfless and benevolent disposition to embark on massive empowerment programmes to benefit electorates, most aspirants coming to challenge the present member lack the above listed leadership qualities to perform him in his second term if any is voted as a first timer. His advantages are more.

Obong Emmanuel Ukpong-Udo has demonstrated capacity as a first timer to deliver promises made, and has even done beyond expectations as Bar. Moses Akpan confessed during the representative’s fourth phase empowerment programme last December. This is why the electorate are persuaded by the belief that “a bird in hand is worth more than thousands in the bush flying freely” to settle for him. The handy evidences of his landmark achievements recorded in Ikono and Ini local government areas are testimonies of capacity to do more than any of the other aspirants. Consequently, he enjoys favourable opinion of overwhelming majority of electorates and the narratives about him have soared high to the skies and warmed him into the hearts of people, which is why they earnestly desired his re-election in 2023.

However, because of self-centered reasons, a few politicians prefer to work against electorates interest by stirring up untenable sentiments to favour the interest of their aspirants who electorates are obviously opposed to when comparative advantage between them and Obong Emmanuel Ukpong-Udo is considered.
They allow undue sentiments to override popular opinion on tenure elongation which is honestly canvassed for in order to empower representatives to occupy better position through seniority advantage to consequently enable them render more effective representation as well as attract more dividends of democracy to people of the Constituency.

They same set of people who sabotaged an earlier aspirant are out again to capitalize on the ignorance of vulnerable electorates to fan up sentiments against tenure elongation. This same act is what previously took the Constituency backwards, because if it third term had gone through, Ikono/Ini Federal Constituency would have enjoyed solid foundation as it would have been practised steadily to bring huge dividends to the people from the National Assembly. All these confusion and zoning and tenure elongation would have been a thing of the past.

Therefore, the elongation which is still within the rotation order of the present zoning is the best option for electorates to embrace if the Constituency’s backwardness occasioned by mundane sterotype zoning presently in practice is to be reversed. This is the right time and the present representative is someone if better empowered by another term will do marvelously beyond what has been witnessed in his first term.

Considering the incumbent member’s remarkable performances, nothing can convince the majority to trade their collective interest just to massage the selfish ego of a few elders and political stakeholders who want to teleguide gullible ones to discard superior opinions of right thinking citizens.

Politicial observers unanimously reject weaker aspirants who want to lure vulnerable people to believe that tenure extension in the Federal Constituency is a taboo, whereas, it is an accepted practice legislative representation at all levels nationally. The party of course won’t limit the liberty of legislative representatives to recontest if electorates demand their re-election through fair electoral process because it is their right. This has been demonstrated before in the Constituency with a third term nomination ticket of PDP to an aspirant.

Constitutionally, delegates are ones to influence the outcome of primaries to nominate the best out of all qualified aspirants and thereafter voters do same during election. The party is conscious of this right so won’t entrust this right of voters to biased and partial political elders who want to frustrate the benefits derivable from tenure extension.
Electorates have tactically passed a vote of no confidence on those kicking against tenure elongation because it is a just a ploy to take away the present representative from the contest so that they will have easy ride to the office, even when their capacities to represent the Constituency and deliver dividends of democracy is evidently below average.

Generally people agree that there is obvious dissatisfaction with the performance of one of the aspirant who has been in government for over 15 years but has no visible impact on the masses. In fact, if Obong Emmanuel Ukpong-Udo had such privileged positions severally, his empowerment would have been incomparable to the aspirant. So with nothing tangible to show, the particular aspirant resorts to stirring up unnecessary controversies here and there on zoning and tenure elongation, even when not favored by micro-zoning.
Moreover, people are fed up with such unproductive politicians who have spent that many years in prime positions in the state government, longer than any living or dead politician from Ikono and Ini local government areas, but has very little or no impact on the masses. The poor representation is because dividends of appointments are only used to enrich themselves and their families.

Accordingly, electorates want politics to be repositioned in the zone in order to erase excuse for poor representation. A positive change is demanded and can only become a reality by ushering once again the present representative who is a vibrant, people-friendly and responsive politician that treats his constituents as human beings, not as items of exploitation for selfish interest.
People desire a representative who will sincerely continue to consider all his constituents as rightful owners of dividends of democracy and legitimate beneficiaries of his leadership. He prefers to satisfy the ordinary people, instead of greasing the palms of a few elders alone to retain their recommendations to advance in elections as is done by one of the aspirants. This is why the person needed in 2023 is from the different class of politicians, he is someone who is blessed with unquestionable credibility, integrity and competence.

This desired personality will continue to recognize that for the governed and leadership to function positively and enjoy beneficial relationship, a representative must honestly respect and honour the social contract that exist between both parties. From the line up, Obong Emmanuel Ukpong-Udo is the most trusted and dependable one that people can re-elect and relax to enjoy participatory leadership.
Given his predigree, he is the best one amongst them to accommodate the peculiar needs of his constituents without fusing or demeaning their statuses when they put pressure on him. He can tolerate pressure because he appreciates the plights of the underprivileged, a feature which is absent in the political character of some aspirants canvassing desperately for the same seat.

But unlike them, Obong Emmanuel Ukpong-Udo is a creative being who is able to come to with ideas and ways to empower thousands across his Constituency consistently without hazzles. The member is a pacesetter and result oriented person who has been tested and trusted to perform exceedingly well. So based on his advantage over other prospective contestants, he remains the peoples favourite who will no doubt be wholeheartedly embraced by voters in 2023.

Itohowo Akpabio is a public affairs commentator.