Emmanuel Agrees, Only God Can Save Him

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Emmanuel Udom

By Okon Bassey

Recently, a political and social pressure group in Akwa Ibom State, the Justice and Development Initiative (JDI) cried out that the appointment of Mrs Amina Zakari as the national collation officer of the presidential election will equally influence elections in Akwa Ibom State, which has surprisingly come up in the indicators of many election monitors as one of the states to watch closely. A status that was previously alien to the state.

Put side-by-side with the revelation by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, the JDI position supports the concerns of many that the 2019 elections in Akwa Ibom State will not be business as usual. In fact, observers posit that this is first time there will be an election in the state that will reflect a semblance of the wishes of the people. Since, the beginning of the current democratic dispensation in 1999, elections in Akwa Ibom has been largely tilted to favour the party in government, in this case, the PDP. However, with the switch of the political loyalty of Senator Godswill Akpabio, the immediate past governor of the state, whose immense political influence in the state cannot be denied, has assured a balance of forces. For the first time in Akwa Ibom State, the ruling party will be matched in strength for strength in each of the close to 3000 polling unites across the state.

Chairman of the PDP in the state, Mr. Paul Ekpo recently raised an alarm that the allegation by the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed that the federal government had information that elements in the opposition parties were planning to disrupt the national elections, was only a ploy to arrest vocal and influential members in the opposition, in order to give the ruling party at the centre an easy path to victory.

Ekpo said that the party would base its campaigns on issues and achievements recorded by Gov. Udom Emmanuel’s administration in the last three and half years.

He urged opposition parties to also base their campaigns on issues as against intimidation and blackmail, stressing that only the will of Akwa Ibom people would prevail. “We hereby state as follows, that we have not and will not send anybody to disrupt rallies or meetings of any other political party. We can assure the opposition that no amount of arrest and intimidation will bend the will of the people. The greater the opposition, the more resolute the will of the people will be to ensure their resounding failure. Our people will vote their choice and defend their votes,” Ekpo said.

The party state chairman denied allegation that the PDP in the state was buying Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) from the electorate.

Ekpo, however, alleged that there were plans to frame up officials and financiers of his party with the aim of keeping them away from the elections.

The JDI concerns were particularly directed at Akpabio. This is because; a younger brother of Mrs Zakari is a close friend of the All Progressive Congress (APC) leader in the state, Senator Godswill Akpabio having been friends since their secondary education years.

The President of the group, Mr. Tom Chris Morgan and Secretary, Mr Henry Bassey said the appointment of Zakari is the beginning of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the APC rigging plot.

“Of concern for us in Akwa Ibom also is the fact that a younger brother of Zakari is one of the closet personal friends of our own Akpabio, who is also the leader of the APC in Akwa Ibom.

“They have been friends since their Secondary School years in Federal Government College in Port Harcourt. We are not losing sight of this and its implication on the outcome of the election in Akwa Ibom,” the group stated.

The group insisted that “appointing a relative of the President and candidate in the presidential election into such a sensitive election position amounts to an apparent conflict-of-interest situation while INEC Chairman appears to have bowed to pressure from the Presidency and the APC in their desperate bid to ensure that the election result is manipulated in their favour.”

According to the group, “Mrs Amina Zakari is not only a blood relative of the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari but also married to the Senatorial candidate for Bauchi South. Therefore by consanguinity and affinity, her hands are tied.”

“Having a brother of Mrs Zakari as a close friend of the APC leader in Akwa Ibom State could also influence and enable him to perpetuate his infamous “warsaw saw war” threat against other parties during the conduct of the elections in Akwa Ibom.” the body stated

The group stressed that the President must avoid actions that suggest he wishes to suppress the aspirations of the people in the 2019 elections.

Adding, “Any action of the President that aims at giving him an advantage in the February elections amounts to political corruption and abuse of power since he is using his political power for personal gain as a candidate.”

The body said Mrs Zaraki’s denial of any relationship with President Buhari also puts a huge question mark on her honesty, probity, and trustworthiness.

“A person who can lie this casually about something as basic and as verifiable her relationships is disreputable and unworthy of the responsibility she’s been entrusted with at INEC.” it posited.

To give all the candidates, a level playing ground in the interest of justice, equity and fairness and ensure peace, the group call on INEC to reverse the appointment of Mrs. Zakari as the chairperson of that crucial position.

“We call on the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmoud Yakubu to resign his appointment because his appointment of a relative of the President into such sensitive position has revealed his bias and lack of capacity to withstand influence and intimidation from vested interests in the 2019 election.

“We also call on the international community to join the Nigerian people and prevail on President Buhari to practice the Peace Accord, with exemplary actions in order to build confidence in the process he is leading.”

These seeming advantage and fears do not deter Governor Udom Emmanuel at all, as he has displayed his implicit faith in God. One of the often advertised themes of the Emmanuel campaign is ‘Only God’. Many observers have come to the conclusion and Emmanuel seems to agree that if his reelection was left in the hands of human beings, given the treachery that is second nature to many men and women, his fate would hang in the balance. Indeed, looking at the formidable array of opposition in the state, featuring the likes of Akpabio, the APC governorship candidate, Obong Nsima Ekere, Senator John Akpan Udoedeghe, Senator Ita Enang, Chief Umana Okon Umana and Chief Don Etiebet, it is the first time that men of this political stature are united behind one candidate-Nsima Ekere. And if the proverbial ‘federal might’ is anything to go by, Governor Udom Emmanuel is going up against a coalition of enemies united in their quest to stop his reelection. Therefore, thinking as a human being, the end of Emmanuel’s reign is a matter of days.

But there comes the godly factor, which Emmanuel is holding on to tenaciously. As can be gleaned from the another name which he calls his reelection campaign, ‘Divine Mandate’, Emmanuel has acknowledged his human frailty and is seeking supernatural help from a collection of men who are too powerful for him. The Akwa Ibom State Governor knows that ‘Only God’ can save him from these terrible foes. Everywhere he goes, while acknowledging the welcome and friendship of the people, Emmanuel never fails to make it known that God deserves the glory for giving him the privilege to preside over the affairs of Akwa Ibom State.

While the APC stalwarts have said that Emmanuel cannot say that God belongs exclusively to him, the governor is likely to get sympathy votes from many who are questioning the sudden turn-around of Akpabio. Indeed they say that whatever Emmanuel has become it was Akpabio who foisted him on the state. More people are increasingly queuing behind him for his perceived effort to break away from the apron strings of Akpabio and be his own man. They reason also that the governor should be allowed to carry through his advertised industrialization blueprint for the state, by serving a second tenure.