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Tuesday, August 25, 2020


BY Ofonime Udotu

It was the Nigerian playwright, Prof. Ola Rotimi (1938 – 2000) who wrote in his play, The gods are not to blame, the “Venom of a viper does nothing to the back of a tortoise”. Nothing is farther from this incontrovertible truth. For those whose stock – in – trade is backstabbing, it was too early to thank God. The reckless campaign to pull down the new State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Hon. Udo Ekpenyong before his election was a nullity that ended in futility. Even when he aspired for the coveted office, he was ahead of his competitors and detractors. But Hon. Ekpenyong is a man who trusts in the Lord and like Mount Zion, he cannot be easily moved as he abides in the Lord. Like the grinding stone said to its user, you must kneel to my power and they did just that to a man who wears hard work like his skin and resounding victory came after the brouhaha. 

Wherever he is given an opportunity to serve, Hon. Ekpenyong has a passion to bequeath legacies. As the immediate past Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, he left some milestones. During valedictory/thanksgiving service at the Ministry, the Permanent Secretary, Pharmacist Mbuk Inyang extolled the out-gone Commissioner as an astute administrator and compassionate man who had left the place better than he met. The staff who presented him his painted portrait expressed joyous tears at his departure, just like it was hard to bid goodbye to a man who conceived and constructed a permanent State Council of Chiefs Chamber – a feat the State could not accomplish three decades since it was created in 1987. The project was appropriated in the 2017 budget. It is located at the former Ministry of Works, Wellington Bassey Way, Uyo.  

For Hon. Ekpenyong, party politics is a familiar turf and his competence for crisis – management and political evangelism is not in doubt. Over the past three decades, he has mastered the bolts and nuts – the nitty-gritty of the game. That is why many believe that a preacher’s kid cannot fail the baptismal examination. In battles for legitimate ends, he is a dogged fighter who can hardly show white feathers. He processes his seismic strategies in solemn silence and executes in moonlight opportunity – a political dynamo with sterling leadership dynamics even when the gale may be raging. As the saying goes, the best wine comes out of an old vessel and nothing less is expected from this former national officer of PDP who would exploit grassroots and high tension connections for the optimal advantage of the party. 

Quite predictably, the new Chairman’s assignment is enormous and tasking. He is to cleanse the party of all political injustices, bury the hatchet and make members more united and strengthen bonds for the collective interest of the party. He would make the umbrella’s tentacles more accommodating and a greener pasture for those fleeing from their flaming political dwellings – a refuge for fatigued faithful of other political parties that have been struck by partial paralysis, especially in tumultuous times when survival is more or less strife.   An anonymous commentator recently remarked that with Hon. Ekpenyong in the saddle, the opposition parties would be happy to sing from the same hymn book with the ruling PDP. 

The inaugural speech of the State Chairman of the Party was quite revealing and assertive. The Chairman promised that “we shall never take our people and base for granted. We shall allow transparency and justice during congresses, primaries, and elections; we shall work… to encourage smooth transition;  pointing out that” we shall continue to keep the umbrella open to all, we also assure other political parties in the State (through Inter-Party Advisory Council – IPAC) that they have a partner in the Peoples Democratic Party as long as the focus is Akwa Ibom interest. 

The Chairman emphasized among other things, that under him the party shall encourage members who hold office to create platforms for public engagement to deepen bonds between the party and the people. He underlined the fact that the supremacy of the party shall be reasserted, even as emphasis shall be laid on the party loyalty and discipline. Hon. Ekpenyong gave an assurance that there would be regular interface with members with a view to making the party viable and self-sustaining. 

For a man who has built a luminous political career, the task may be Herculean but he has the insurmountable capacity, volunteering, and teamwork spirit to steer the umbrella ship. He has the gift of political clairvoyance and endowment for the benevolence of bridge-building even in the midst of agonizing uncertainties. A man with enormous creative and constructive political capital, Hon. Ekpenyong does not see politics as the madness of all for the benefit of a few, but a game of all for the benefit of all. The umbrella party under Ekpenyong has the unquantifiable quota to contribute to the shaping or reshaping the political leadership of Akwa Ibom State in 2023. The Local Government election taking place in October 2020 is a prelude to that task.      

When the American astronaut, Neil Armstrong (1930 – 2012) landed in the moon on 11th July 1969, he returned after he and his party had spent 21 hours, 36 minutes on the moon surface. On 20th July 1969, he described his unprecedented trip to a bewildering world as “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. And that is what Hon. Ekpenyong is to the umbrella party and Akwa Ibom State.

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