Unofficially, the race for government positions in 2023 has begun. So is the search for candidates. In Akwa Ibom state, a strong zoning arrangement exists, and this time, it goes to Uyo senatorial district, home to the Ibibios. There are so many eminently qualified sons of the land that will jostle for the PDP ticket, which happens to be the ‘pass’ to occupy the Hilltop Mansion. One cannot but expect bad blood and forced alliance to surface in the build-up to the election, and to quickly point out, it’s going to be battle-royale. Names are beginning to emerge. The recent name is Inoyo Udom.
Inoyo Udom is not a household name for now, but he certainly occupies a highly enviable position in Nigeria. Vice-chairman of Exxon Mobil Nigeria, a profile does not come any better. Surely, he is a professional and an accomplished technocrat. More importantly, he is a product of a system that places a premium on process, procedure and performance. A brother on the Anchor, Inoyo is a philanthropist, who delights in giving back to the society, especially the younger generation through education. He is quite wealthy, as you may wish to know, he earns a higher salary than the governors of the south-south and south-east put together.
His chances are quite high. But it will come at a high cost and higher compromise. Inoyo may be a greenhorn in Nigeria politics, but he is not new to playing politics. After all, politics permeates our everyday lives especially when people, position and power are involved. He is a friend to Udom Emmanuel and being the incumbent governor, can make things happen with the enormous powers and influence at his disposal. After all, he must have learnt a thing or two from his erstwhile ‘master’. The powers and influence of a sitting governor will be a key factor. With Udom Emmanuel no longer attached to the apron string of any political godfather, he can afford to throw his full weight and state funds behind his anointed candidate, Inoyo. And trust me, Inoyo will emerge the winner. Definitely, there will be dissenting voices and disgruntled minds, but when ‘Ghana must go’ begins to move to relevant quarters in the wee hours of the night, dissent will turn to applause and endorsement. That was how Udom Emmanuel came to power and the path for his successor might just have been set for him.
He will need to fend off competition from politicians of colossal standing from Uyo senatorial district. They will be many, but Senator Bassey Albert is one name that is capable of ending Inoyo’s late venture into politics. He’s got what Inoyo doesn’t have-political structure. Money can buy a lot of things, but not true loyalty. Like Albert, there are tens of other eminently qualified Ibibios with a high level of political sagacity, structure and clout who will join the race when the ban on politic is lifted. Will he be able to stand up to these political giants and match them money for money, tactics for tactics, blackmail for blackmail, and strategy for strategy?
Furthermore, endorsements from eminent sons and daughters of Ibibio, Annang, Oro, Ekid and other influential socio-cultural cum political groups as well as former governors of the state will be a key determinant factor. It is too early to tell if he can secure these endorsements ahead of his rivals as politics can be highly unpredictable due to changing interests.
The last and biggest challenge Inoyo will face as he ventures into politics and vies for the number one office in Akwa Ibom state will be propaganda and smear campaigns. In the words of Lamidi Adedibu, the strongman of Ibadan politics ‘if you don’t want to know who dated your mother before she married your father don’t join politics. Your history will be laid bare’. You can be rest assured that propaganda will flow like torrents from the four cardinal points of the earth. The crescendo of it all will be when he discovers the intrigues and intricacies of Nigeria politics transcend the comprehension of innocent minds. When the barrages become overwhelming, like hell let loose, perhaps, the Midas touch of sinners2saints PR will be the deus ex machina of the situation. Whether the gentleman will be able to survive it, time will tell.
The journey to the Hilltop mansion begins in 2020 when Chief Paul ‘Politics’ Ekpo will pass on the baton of leadership of the party to someone else. It is believed that the machinery to actualize the ambition of the governor to produce his successor would have been put in place once the right piece of the jigsaw is found. In that wise, the PDP congress of next year will be the coronation of the ‘crown (governor) prince’ as the ‘system’ is working tirelessly to pick a successor that will do the bidding of the governor to oversee the party affairs in the state.
Whispering from hovering birds indicates that Mr Inoyo will be made to learn the ropes in politics from the office that coordinates government activities. It is believed that by 2021, he would be appointed as the secretary to the state government where he is expected to acquaint himself with the good, the bad and the ugly in the government office. As the election draws closer, he is expected to resign and join the race. With structures already put in place at the party leadership level and delegates already smiling to the bank, he is expected to emerge as PDP candidate and invariably as the governor of Akwa Abasi Ibom State, the same way Mr Udom Emmanuel emerged.
The future they say is not ours to see, but we can make an intelligent guess /predict the future. And right now, history may repeat itself. However, Que sera sera we will sing while we wait.