Asuquo Ekpenyong: An Emerging Nigerian Star
The general election might have been fought and won, but one of its remarkable outcomes is the emergence of 37 year-old Asuquo Ekpenyong of the All Progressives Congress, APC, who is to represent Cross River South in the 10th Senate. Ikenna Ukwa reports that for the emerging Nigerian star, it was a well deserved win
Asuquo Ekpenyong of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who is commonly referred to as Suki by his admirers, is presently the youngest Senator-elect in the country. His win has earmarked him as an emerging star that would project the fortunes of Cross River State in the forthcoming fifth National Assembly.
Cross River State from the onset of this 4th Republic had been known nationally as a staunch PDP State, as a matter of fact PDP had retained Cross River State Government from 1999, winning all three Senatorial Seats, all eight House of Representatives, all 25 House of Assembly, all 18 Local Government Councils and all 196 Councillors every election cycle.
It was indeed known that the PDP primaries was akin to a general elections as winning the PDP primaries ticket was a guaranteed win at the general elections.
This remained the case throughout this 4th republic until Governor Ayade decamped from PDP to the APC in mid 2021. While most members of the State Executive Council moved with Ayade, most of the National Assembly members, especially all three Senators remained in the PDP alongside the previous two governors and other senior and influential political figures in the state.
Indeed, several political analysts speculated that Cross River remained a PDP state in spirit and would be recaptured during this election cycle.
Shockingly, the APC was able to upset political calculations in Cross River by not just retaining the governorship but also winning two of the three senatorial seats, five out of the eight Federal House of Representatives seats and 21 of the 25House of Assembly seats.
Suki played a major role in convincing the electorate to rally behind the APC in the state as youths voted overwhelmingly for the party, with him as the poster boy.
He played a major role not just during the campaigns but over the last year which has positioned him as an emerging star in the politics of Cross River. He was the Chairman Mobilisation and Finance, of the National Youth Lobby Group of the party and Oden Ewa was the State Chairman, Cross River youth lobby group, wherein they organised a 30,000-man APC youth summit in calabar in February 2022.
In April 2022, Suki also led the group to tour all the 18 local governments of Cross River and encouraged Cross Riverians to register for and join the APC when the registration of new members was ongoing and mobilised massively for the party, in a manner that had never been seen before in the entire South-south region.
Over the course of 2022, the group led by Suki also mobilised heavily for the registration of new voters across the state especially in the youth demographic. And the result was massive as the youth in the state who aligned more with the campaigns of the Peter Obi voted for Labour Party in the presidential election and they voted for Ekpenyong for Senate, irrespective of their political party affiliation.
When the result was out, he ended up defeating his opponents who were much older than him and had been in the game several decades ahead of him. But all those didn’t matter by the time the result was out as he trounced all his opponents because the people of Cross River were with him.
Ekpenyong who became Cross River State Commissioner of Finance at 29, is seen by the youths as one who would give them quality representation at Abuja, because he wears their shoes and knows where it pinches them. Today, Suki represents a new dawn and a new vista in political leadership of Cross River.
Suki represents the now, the vision and the future of Cross River politics and the people of Cross River South Senatorial District decided to put their future in the hands of a fellow youth whom they so much trust.
For suki, his reputation is founded on the pillars of self-development, strong character and inimitable will. His intimidating academic profile and experience has now been adopted by the people of Cross River as the irreducible minimum any politician in the state must have and that is no more evident than in the political name given to him by the people “The Standard”, this sobriquet has become even more popular than his actual name across the state.
He hails from a community in Odukpani called Eniong Abatim, precisely Etcheri Iquo Esin lineage in Asang Eniong. He is the first son of Dr. Asuquo Ekpenyong, a foremost entrepreneur in Cross River state and Clan Head of Bukong Group of Villages. The Senator-Asuquo Ekpenyong was born on August 25, 1985.
He attended Kings College, Lagos from where he proceeded to the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics. He immediately capped it with a Master’s Degree in International Banking and Financial Services earning the only Distinction of his graduating year at the University of Reading, thereafter, he attended the prestigious Harvard Business School.
He has attended several courses and holds certificates from Howard University in the United States and from the University of Pretoria in South Africa among many others. Ekpenyong is a devout Christian. He is happily married to Netanela and a father of two children, Minika & Asuquo Jr.
Returning to Nigeria in 2009, Asuquo Ekpenyong started Iquasu Limited, which today has become the biggest indigenous logistics services provider in the State, serving major industries in the Country which include Lafarge Africa Plc, Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, etc.
Over the years, he served as the Managing Director of the Central Bank of Nigeria licenced-Chamley Bureau De Change Limited and as the Finance Director of Pearland Energy Limited. In 2013, he was appointed a member of the Board of Directors of Ekondo Microfinance Bank Limited and has served on several critical Board Committees including the Credit, Establishment, Audit, Finance and General Purposes Committees.
Driven by his passion to teach and eager to share his knowledge, Asuquo Ekpenyong joined the Faculty of Management Sciences at the University of Calabar as a Lecturer in the Department of Banking and Finance in 2010.
Suki was appointed to serve as Commissioner for Finance by Ben Ayade, in November 2015 – March 2022. He resigned his appointment on March 2022, before contesting for election as Senator representing Cross River Southern Senatorial District in the platform of All Progressive Congress party.
From February 2016 to April 2017, he was saddled with a concurrent responsibility by the Governor of Cross River State when he was also appointed as the Managing Director of the premier Tinapa Business and Leisure Resort.
Subsequently, he was detailed to concurrently superintend over the State Ministry of Transportation in 2018, and served on the Debt Review and Special Projects Committee in 2019.
The Asuquo Ekpenyong dynasty is renowned for a conglomerate of businesses in banking, hospitality, haulage and real estate with success and sustenance covering almost three decades. The Ekpenyong’s have employed and empowered thousands of Cross riverians through public and private sector windows as well as helping people to invest in the state.
They have contributed immensely to various governments in the state without seeking any recompense.
Ekpenyong is a mass mobiliser and grassroots politician that attracted support from stakeholders, especially youths in the state.
Over the just concluded general elections, Suki ran a completely data-driven and technologically innovative campaign with a team of young men and women. He interfaced with the people directly deploying door-to-door campaign, moving from one community in his senatorial district to another. He met with the low and mighty, he dined with the common man and the highly influential.
He garnered a lot of votes from students because he was their lecturer, he moved with okada, canoes and rafters to access hard to reach areas to speak to his constituents, listen to them and give them messages of hope.
Ekpenyong’s victory was aptly captured by Ewa, who in a congratulatory message to the senator-elect wrote: “Your victory at the polls was a poignant manifestation of the people’s faith in you, particularly the young generation who saw a greater prospect in your candidature and capacity to offer quality representation.
Today, you personify the bow needed to realise the wishes and aspirations of the people of Cross River South at the Senate.”
Indeed, his victory would propel the people, particularly the younger generation, to aspire for lofty heights and work their dreams knowing that nothing is impossible when committed to it.
Ekpenyong is committed to excellence and prepared for the task ahead and the people of his senatorial district have been assured of qualitative and impactful representatives that would see a lot of dividends of democracy attracted to the state.
It is expected that he would continue to serve humanity and touch more lives not just in his state, but across the country as he is an emerging star in the politics of Nigeria.
Ekpenyong who became Cross River State Commissioner of Finance at 29, is seen by the youths as one who would give them quality representation at Abuja, because he wears their shoes and knows where it pinches them. Today, Suki represents a new dawn and a new vista in political leadership of Cross River