NOBODY CONSULTED ME; I’M STILL IN GUBER RACE – Onofiok Luke
Governor Udom Emmanuel has finally ended months of speculations and permutations with the presentation of one of his cabinet members to succeed him as Governor in 2023.
At a well attended PDP Stakeholders’ Meeting which took place this evening at the Governor’s Lodge, in Uyo, Governor Udom Emmanuel, after months of seeking the face of God, finally announced his Commissioner for Lands and Water Resources, Pastor Umo Eno, as his preferred choice to succeed him.
Former Governor, Obong (Arc) Victor Attah, thereafter made the formal presentation of Pastor Eno to the Stakeholders which comprises major and leading political chieftains from the three Senatorial Districts, who all applauded the choice and pledged to work towards his emergence as the Governor of the State come 2023.
Pastor Eno spoke passionately and emotionally about how he grew up in the Police barracks and how dreary and challenging those days were, but he summoned hope to overcome those difficulties.
He said he was grateful to God and to Governor Emmanuel for finding him worthy of the onerous task to lead the people of the State and continue the people-focused and developmental strides of Governor Udom Emmanuel .
Bishop Uma Ukpai and the Prelate Emeritus of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, Dr. Sunday Mbang prayed for his success, a sentiment that was re-echoed by the Oku Ibom Ibibio and Chairman of State Council of Chiefs, Ntenyin Solomon Etuk.
Among those who attended the event, were the Deputy Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo, MFR, Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey, Senators Akon Eyakenyi, Effiong Bob, Ibok Essien, Aloysius Etok, former Deputy Governor, Etim Okpoyo, Member, representing Etinan Federal Constituency at the National Assembly, Onofiok Luke, PDP Party Chairman, Elder Aniekan Akpan, Barrister Emmanuel Enoidem, the National Coordinator of the Maintain Peace Movement, (MPM) . Hon Pat Ifon, Member representing Eket Federal Constituency at the National Assembly and Member, PDP BOT, Chief Nduese Essien, a former Minister of Housing, Ambassador Assam Assam, SAN, Nigeria’s former Ambassador to Russia , Fathers of Faith, and other leading members of the state’s political class.
It will be recalled that Governor Emmanuel had severally said he had no anointed candidate for 2023, despite unwavering speculations that he had already settled for Eno.
Commenting on the development, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Ekerete Udo, quoted Emmanuel as saying God picked Eno as the next governor.
“The governor announced that he (Eno) was the one God has revealed to him as the next governor of the state and he was unveiled to all the stakeholders from the three senatorial districts of the state by the former governor, Obong Victor Attah, who then commended the choice.”
“It was an array of the political elders made up of senators and House of Representatives members,” Udo said.
However, it has been reported by several credible media platforms that many stakeholders stormed out of the meeting, following the announcement and endorsement of Pastor Eno Imo as Governor Udom Emmanuel’s preferred Candidate.
Chairman, House Representatives Committee on Judiciary and former Speaker of Akwa Ibom House of Assembly, Barr. Onofiok Luke, was reported as one of those who walked out of the meeting and he has since issued a preliminary statement on the development.
According to Rt. Hon. Luke, as reported, he was not aware of the agenda of the meeting but attended out of respect, to honour the Governor’s invitation, even as he expressed displeasure at the lack of consultation with other notable aspirants, who had declared interest in the Governorship race.
“I’m not against their endorsement; and I’m not against the elders of the state. But I’m saying the endorsement could have happened after proper consultation.
“I went to Obong Attah and asked him respectfully, why didn’t you talk to all of us who are in this race? Why didn’t you talk to Sen Bassey Albert? Why didn’t you talk to Akan Udofia? Why didn’t you talk to Akan Okon? Why didn’t you talk to James Iniama? It was Obong Attah that made the presentation, not the governor.
“I was ambushed. I didn’t know the agenda of the meeting but I had to respect the governor and attend the meeting. For three good times I had raised my hand, seeking to be allowed to speak but I was ignored.
“We would have loved their endorsement but that would have been after due consultation. But whoever they would endorse should be the choice of the majority of people in the state
“So, for me as Onofiok Akpan Luke, I am in the governorship race. I am going to stand election on the platform of my party, the PDP. I am not part of that endorsement at all.
“But I respect their views; I respect the opinion and choice of the governor. I respect Obong Victor Attah and the opinion of the elders of the state. It is their choice. I only respect their opinion; but I am not in support of what they are doing” Hon. Luke stated declared.
He also issued a statement, sourced from his verified social media Facebook handle, which reads:
We Are Still On Course
- Out of respect and as a loyal party man, I honored an innocent invitation from the Governor for a meeting this evening at the lodge;
- At the meeting my brother from my local government and Federal Constituency, Pst Umo Eno was presented as the choice of the Governor for succession;
- It was at the said meeting that I heard of the agenda and choice for the first time and no one held any discussion with me prior to the meeting;
- I am not against the choice of the Governor coming from my local government, Federal Constituency nor the aspiration of my brother;
5.However, as a fellow aspirant from the same local government at the same advantage when successful, my aspiration to serve the state in the capacity of the Governor remains on course;
- This statement would not have been necessary but not for the misrepresentation in media which may create a negative impression about my person and the reputation God has helped me to build these number of years in public service;
- My supporters and those sympathetic to my cause should please note that we are as resolute as ever in our desire to give our people purposeful leadership in the office of the Governor come 2023.
God’s Amazing Grace has always seen us through and will always see us through.
Onofiok Akpan Luke
It was also noted that both the Commissioner for Economic Development and Ibom Deep Seaport, Mr Akan Okon, who is equally a frontline governorship aspirant, as well as the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Ini Emembong, were noticably absent at the meeting and since no reason has been offered to explain it so far, many Akwa Ibom Political watchers have flagged it as an instructive sign and potential indicator of a crisis that may already be brewing in the PDP ahead of the 2023 elections.
Impeccable grapevine sources within Akwa Ibom PDP, have also hinted that Governor Emmanuel’s body language has unambiguously suggested he is uncomfortable with the possibility of either Senator Bassey Albert or Onofiok Luke (both grassroots politicians with large following in the state) hijacking the PDP Guber ticket and eventually emerging his successor in 2023.
Top sources in the state’s Political circles are of the opinion that the governor and the ‘system’ will do everything to make ensure that the neither OBA nor Luke, emerges at the PDP Governorship Candidate for the 2023 election.
In fact, the word on the streets of Uyo, the state capital, is that the dramatic unveiling of Pastor Eno Umo so early ahead in the day, may not only be a strategy to calm the polity and lay the speculations of the choice of the governor’s successor to rest once and for all, but is also a direct reaction to the recent, very well attended and hugely successful Thanksgiving ceremony by Senator Bassey (which the Governor attended), during which he declared openly that the only God he believes in is “the God of Udom Emmanuel”; a statement which many interpret as a thinly veiled ploy to create the impression that he was the Governor’s preferred choice in 2023.
With the unveiling of Pastor Eno Umo as Governor Emmanuel’s preferred 2023 Candidate and with preliminary discordant signals already greeting his presentation, the gauntlet has definitely been thrown down for a looming Guber contest, beginning with the primaries, which will be expected to shape the process for the emergence of the next Governor of Akwa Ibom State, one way or the other.