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Akwa Ibom State Politics by ado ok: 10:52am On Apr 05, 2010
Akwa Ibom 2011: Can Akpabio stem the tide of opposition?
Sunday, 04 April 2010 Bassey Anthony


Political activities in Akwa Ibom State are already in full throttle ahead of the 2011

general election. Within the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for instance, all the

gladiators in state’s politics have been smarting up for the contest.

While the opposition parties are less active compared to the ruling PDP, there are also

potential areas of tension within the opposition camp, which might ignite a full-blown

politicking in the coming months.

Without doubts, Akwa Ibom is one of the states in the Southsouth where the governorship

election will be keenly contested both at the primary election of the PDP, and at the

general election.

There are two reasons for this situation: one is the ethnic dimension that is attached to

the governorship of the state and the second, is the personality clash between the incumbent

governor of the state, Obot Godswill Akpabio and his predecessor, Obong Victor Attah.

From what the Nigerian Compass can gather, forces loyal to Governor Akpabio are already

oiling the machinery for his second term reelection.

For example, the city of Uyo, which is the capital of the state is already awash with bill

boards advertising the achievements of Governor Akpabio, as well as in all the nooks and

crannies of the 31 local government areas of the state.

Apart from the bill boards, a great number of pressure groups, including women, youth and

socio-cultural groups, have also sprung in Akwa Ibom State in recent time with a common

message: Support Akpabio for second term.

While the development is already causing some hiccups across factions within the PDP, the

opposition appears to be watching with keen interest, waiting for a weak opening it could

attack from.

For any cursory observer of Akwa Ibom State politics, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in

state is a divided house.

The reason for the sharp division within the PDP, which prides itself as the only party in

the South-South state is not far fetched: the gladiators in the party in the state have

taken divergent positions on the composition of the state executive body of the party.

The major actors in the crisis rocking the Akwa Ibom PDP are the state governor, Akpabio and

his predecessor in office, Attah.

Expectedly, many of top chieftains of the party have also been divided along the lines Attah

and Akpabio.

Akpabio, being the governor, and according to the constitution of the PDP, is the leader of

the party in the state.

On the other hand, Attah being a foundation member of the party and also a former governor,

is a member of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the party.

The BOT is a very influential organ of the PDP.

The bone of contention between the pro-Akpabio and the Attah group is the acceptability of

state chairman of the party, Mr. Uwem Ita Etuk and the entire executive body.

According to feelers from the party, Attah is said to be angry that he was not part of the

process that produced Uwem as the state chairman. Sources say that he feels slighted that

Akpabio bye-passed him as a former governor and a member of the BOT in the composition of

the state leadership of the party. Attah therefore, wants the executive body dissolved.

However, Akpabio, on the other hand, is insistent on retaining the executive as constituted.

In finding a thaw to the crisis, the national leadership of the PDP mandated a

reconciliation committee headed by General Ike Nwachukwu, and shortlisted Akwa Ibom as one

of the PDP-controlled states the committee would visit.

However, it appears that the even the Ike Nwachukwu committee was not able to achieve much

in closing the chasm in the Akwa Ibom PDP when it visited the state last October, as both

parties stuck to their guns.

Sources in the PDP national secretariat, however, told the Nigerian Compass that the

committee is currently having a second look at the Akwa Ibom situation, and will soon

present an official position on the crisis.

But, until the committee presents its report the status quo subsists, thus heightening the

acrimony in the party.

The indecisiveness of the committee rather than calm frayed nerves between the two camps,

has further exacerbated the tension and suspicion within the party in the state.

The present chaotic situation in the party has, however, given vent to the insinuation that

the PDP in Akwa Ibom State would not speak with one voice ahead of 2011 election .

It is also feared that the division in the PDP ahead of 2011 might create an opportunity for

the opposition parties to latch on.

Another angle to the crisis in Akwa Ibom PDP is the zoning arrangement for the governorship

position.

Ordinarily, there are three major ethnic groupings in Akwa Ibom State: Ibibio, Annang and

Oron.

During the tenure of Attah as governor of the state, the leadership of the PDP, then, had

zoned the governorship seat to the Annang – the second largest ethnic bloc in the state in

the spirit of ethnic balancing.

That was the arrangement which paved the path for Akpabio’s emergence as the PDP

governorship candidate in 2006.

The Ibibios, by sheer size is the largest of the three ethnic blocs, and had occupied the

governorship of the state since its creation in September 29, 1987 .

The Nigerian Compass, however, scooped that there are divisions in the party on whether to

allow the Annang, as personified by Akpabio, serve two terms tenure as governor, or that the

position should return to the Ibibios.

Akpabio is about completing his first tenure of four years and has his eyes keenly set for a

second term.

But, not even the support from traditional rulers from the Ibibio land, barring any of the

Ibibio politicians from contesting the governorship next year against Akpabio is holding

ground.

Right now, quite a number of aspirants have emerged from Ibibio, who are also gunning for

the governorship.

So far, three Ibibios have declared to contest the governorship elections against Akpabio.

On the list are the former Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT),

Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, former Military Administrator of Ogun and Rivers State ,

Group Captain Sam Ewang (rtd), and Mr. Iniekong Udonwa.

Apart from the PDP, about five other political parties seem to have registered presence in

Akwa Ibom State. They are, the Action Congress (AC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP),

the Labour Party (LP), the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) and, lately, the Progressive

Peoples Alliance (PPA).

In all these, the opposition parties in the state have appeared to be mere spectators,

thereby, fueling insinuations in many quarters that they have either been bought over by the

ruling PDP or experiencing some internal problems.

The PPA for instance, started showing some political relevance in Akwa Ibom State shortly

after the party’s national congress last year produced an indigene and former PDP

gubernatorial aspirant in state, Mr. Larry as national chairman.

Suffice to say that none of the mentioned opposition parties in the state has, for now,

commenced any serious effort at wresting power from the PDP.

Checks placed by the Nigerian Compass indicate that none of the top politicians in the state

has shown interest in contesting the governorship position on the platform of any of the

opposition parties.

Although some of the notable opposition parties such as ANPP and AC in the state have been

making occasional pronouncements that they were preparing for the forthcoming elections, but

so far, there are no indication that the pronouncement have been marched with actions.

There are certain reasons to believe that the ANPP and the AC, which many consider as

formidable opposition parties in the state, would not make any significant impact in the

2011 elections.

Unlike in 2007 when the ANPP had Ewang as its governorship candidate, it is not likely that

in the present scenario, the party or any of the present opposition parties in the state

could beat its chest that it could have such a high ranking politician as its candidate for

the governorship election.

Reason: the current attempt by opposition forces in the country to form a common alliance

through the mega party structure is slowing down the level negotiation among the parties.

Of course, Ewang’s ANPP lost the 2007 election to the PDP, but his mere presence added more

flavour to the race, and also gave a boost to the profile of the ANPP in Akwa Ibom State.

Right now, the Nigerian Compass can scoop that all is not well between the leadership of the

ANPP in Akwa Ibom State and Ewang, and it is not unlikely that Ewang might look another way

from the ANPP this time around in his gubernatorial ambition.

He has since indicated his intention to run for the 2011 governorship elections, but till

now, he has not given a clue to the political party he would use as a lunch pad.

Ewang also shunned a reconciliation meeting held last year in Uyo on the grounds that the

peace meeting was not held at the party’s state secretariat situated at the Udosen Uko

Street .

As if to confirm that there is a frosty relationship between Ewang and the ANPP, the state

party chairman, Mr. Paul Bassey, in a recent interview with the Nigerian Compass in Uyo,

said the party was waiting for its national secretariat to blow the whistle for it to

conduct its primaries that would eventually produce the governorship candidate for 2011.

Asked whether the party was aware that Ewang had declared his intention to run for the

governorship, Bassey told our correspondent that nobody in the party was aware of Ewang’s

gubernatorial ambition as he was yet to inform the party.

It is, however, widely believed among political circles that Ewang is merely bidding his

time as it is being rumoured that he is one of those advocating for the emergence of a mega

party.

Ewang himself had said during an interview with our correspondent that he was yet to inform

the ANPP of his ambition to run for the governorship in 2011.

The seeming lull in the ANPP in the state, according to watchers of political events in the

state, stems from the fact that the party does not have the financial muscle to match the

PDP in any electoral contest. This much can be attested by the huge oil revenue that comes

to the coffers of the PDP-controlled government in Akwa Ibom State .

Again, there are incontrovertible evidence to suggest that the ANPP, after the 2007

election, has not been interacting with the electorate, a situation which seems to have

grossly affected the electoral fortune of the party.

Save for some occasional critical statements in the media on some government programmes and

projects, the ANPP leadership in the state has been voiceless.

The Action Congress (AC) is not faring better, either. The party chairman of the party in

the state, Comrade David Ekanem, has left no one in doubt that the AC is still licking the

wounds of its loss at the tribunal challenging the mandate of the incumbent PDP

administration.

Ever since the Court of Appeal ruling validating the election of Akpabio, the governorship

candidate of the AC in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. James Inima, has gone into oblivion.

The party at the moment, according to sources, is waiting for its national secretariat to

give it the green light to conduct its state congress which would eventually produce a

governorship candidate.

Although the state chairman, Ekanem, has severally boasted that the party was finding it

difficult to cope with the sea of notable politicians who have indicated interest to pick

its governorship ticket, there are no indications at the moment that it can parade any

strong candidate that would match Akpabio, the likely PDP candidate, money for money and

power for power.

There are, however, widespread speculations that the former Minister of State for the

Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, may dump the PDP and

pitch his tent with the AC due to his running battle with Akpabio.

Akpanudoedehe had stormed the city of Uyo with his supporters to openly declare his

intention to run for the governorship and formally open his campaign office.

He did not mention the political party he will be using to contest for the position.

The PPA also is seemingly standing on a precipice. Penultimate Friday, during the burial of

a former state chairman of the PDP, Chief Anthony Emenyi in Oron Local Government Area of

the state, its national chairman, Mr. Larry Esin, was visibly and conspicuously hobnobbing

with PDP chieftains in the state.

Esin, according to our investigation, is already receiving signals from the PDP urging him

to decamp from the PPA to the PDP.

Esin defected to the PPA after contesting for the PDP governorship ticket in December 2006

against Akpabio, alongside 50 other contestants and came third.

It remains uncertain if Esin would be able to muster enough political courage and grassroots

support to battle the PDP for which he was a strong member before his exit.

In another breathe, pundits are of the strong belief that there is no such thing as an

opposition party in Akwa Ibom State going by recent rumours making the rounds in the state

that most of the opposition parties have been compromised to relinquish their earlier

position to take over power from the PDP.

To confirm this school of thought, there have been grave indications that there are widening

cracks in the fold of the opposition in the state with each of the parties accusing the

other of being an appendage of the PDP.

For instance, the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) in the state under the

leadership of Comrade David Ekanem of the AC, last year accused the State Chairman of the

Labour Party(LP) Mr. Stern Etim, of giving clandestine support for the second term

reelection of Akpabio.

Etim was also alleged to have led some members of his party and other parties to collect

huge amount of money from the PDP government in the state to endorse the governor for a

second term.

Although the LP chairman has denied that he was bribed by the government, but how is party,

the LP, can strategically position itself to edge out the PDP in the forthcoming

governorship race is yet to be seen.
Add comment


There will continue to be crisis in the PDP, until, ’
Sunday, 04 April 2010 00:00 Bassey Anthony
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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will continue to experience crises until it is returned

to the original founders of the party, a former deputy governor of Akwa Ibom State, Chief

Chris Ekpeyong, has said.


Ekpeyong, a chieftain of the PDP and one of the founding members of the party in Akwa Ibom

State, said the reason why the PDP had veered off its original track and vision was because

the party had been hijacked by people who he described as “traders.”


According to Ekpeyong, the leadership crises and the seeming lack of vision and direction

experienced by the PDP is a direct fall-out of the negligence of the founding fathers of the

party.


Speaking during an interview with the Nigerian Compass, during the week, Ekpeyong said, “the

major vision and mission behind the formation of the PDP by notable Nigerians such as

Solomon Lar; Late Bola Ige; Alex Ekweme; Atiku Abubakar; Adamu Ciroma, Abubakar Rimi; Chief

Victor Attah; my humble self and others was for the party to solve Nigeria’s problems which

were largely caused by the long years of military rule.”


Lamenting that the dreams of the party have not been actualised, he said, “What has happened

is that the PDP today is not the PDP of our dreams. It is not the PDP of the days of Adamu

Ciroma; Alex Ekwenme; late Bola Ige; Solomon Lar; Jerry Gana; Abubakar Atiku; Abubakar Rimi

and a host of others and even Chief Ojo Meduekwe. If Madueke is sincere to himself, he will

know that this is not the PDP of our dreams.


“I think they allowed bystanders to over-take the real conveners and foundation members who

had the focus, knowing that Nigeria had a problem and we wanted to solve the problem of

Nigeria by forming a formidable political machinery that will wrestle power from the

military, and at the time, give Nigerians a sense of vision, mission and arrival.”


The ex-deputy governor stressed that being one of those who brought the PDP to Akwa Ibom

State, he deserved a better deal from the present leadership of the party, particularly his

former boss, Attah, as well as Otuekong Don Etiebet.


Speaking on attempts by some Ibibio politicians to prevent Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa

Ibom State, an Annang, to go for second term in office, Ekpeyong insisted that it was only

fair and justifiable for the Ibibios in the state to respect the power shift to the Annangs

as conceived and agreed upon by the three major ethnic groups in the state during the

Attah’s administration.


His words, “As a former deputy governor, and being an Anang, I was a symbol of that power

shift even though it was not automatic for me to succeed him (Attah), but it was symbolic

that power should shift to people of Anang extraction.”






2011: Akpanudoedehe, Ewang, Udonwa and the battle for Akpabio’s job
Tuesday, 23 March 2010 00:00 Bassey Anthony
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Ahead of the 2011 elections, the political atmosphere in Akwa Ibom State is getting charged

up as politicians occupying various elective offices have begun frantic moves to ensure that

they are not thrown overboard by the whirlwind of the forthcoming elections.


In the same vein, those desirous of taking over from the present occupants of the offices

from May 29, 2011 have started building bridges across some powerful political foundations

and institutions in their determined bid to unseat the incumbents.


While these high-level consultations, intrigues and manipulations continue feverishly among

various political camps, pundits and even keen watchers of the unfolding political events in

the state have come to the conclusion that going by the complexion of Akwa Ibom politics,

which is usually characterised by last minute surprises, next year’s elections would not be

a tea party for both the incumbents and those aspiring to step into their shoes.


No political office is spared in the ongoing battle for occupancy and no aspiring politician

is willing to blink first for the other else he or she is discountenanced as a political

Lilliputian by his or her opponent. Right from the governorship office to the least, which

is the councillorship, the battle is raging. The hysteria displayed in the whole drama has

made pundits to warn that no politician, regardless of his or her political stature, should

be written off.


The fiercest battle ground, it does appear, is the governorship office presently occupied by

Chief Godswill Akpabio. The governorship seat is arguably the most coveted office in the

state, perhaps because of the enormous oil revenue that comes into the coffers of the

22-year old oil-rich state. Contenders for the number one plum job in the state would stop

at nothing to have control over this oil wealth.


Akpabio rode on the horses of popularity, acceptability and sheer providence to become

governor in 2007. He had surreptitiously and tactically built his political foundation and

structures across the 31 local government areas of the state while serving as Commissioner

for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and later that of Lands and Housing in the

administration of his predecessor, Chief Victor Attah, between 1999 and 2007.


His goodwill towards the three major ethnic blocs of Ibibio, Annang and Oron in the state

while serving as commissioner in the two aforementioned ministries earned him the peoples

love and acceptability and by the popular demand of the generality of Akwa Ibomites he was

voted as the second democratically elected governor of the state after surmounting the

initial odds of the December 2006 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primaries when he contested

against over fifty aspirants including his former boss’s son in-law, Dr. Udoma Bob Ekarika.


Since Akpabio took over the mantle of leadership in the state, not a few people have

attested to the fact that he has brought rapid and evenly-spread human and infrastructural

development to all parts of the state without recourse to ethnic or political bias. He has

also being commended for completing most of the projects initiated by his predecessor.


Going by his recorded achievements there have being passionate calls and endorsements from

numberless quarters for him to go for a second term and Akpabio himself, whom so many have

described as the most desperate second term-seeking governor, is not leaving anything to

chance to ensure that he returns to office to consolidate on his achievements.


Described in political circles in the state as ‘a child of Destiny’, one would have thought

that with his firm control over the PDP executive in the state coupled with his performances

in his almost three years in office and the strings of endorsements he has received so far,

he would be granted a second term on a platter of gold.


Besides his astounding achievements, there is solid agreement among the three major ethnic

groups of Ibibio, Annang and Oron that the Annang ethnic group to which Akpabio belongs

should occupy the governorship seat for another four years. The Ibibios had monopolised the

governorship since the creation of the state in 1987 until former Governor Attah thought it

wise to allow the Annangs, in the spirit of ethnic balance, have a shot at it.


However, arising from the ever growing opposition forces against the youthful governor and

his second term ambition as evident by the emergence of other seemingly powerful

politicians, who have declared their interest to contest for the office of governor with him

in the 2011 race, many political observers in the state now believe that he may not be a

‘Child of Destiny’ after all.


So far, only three persons have boldly come out to declare their intention to contest

against Akpabio. They are the former military administrator of Ogun and Rivers states and

the 2003 and 2007 governorship candidate of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), Group

Captain Sam Ewang (rtd), Dr. Iniabasi Udonwa, a Singapore-based businessman and the former

Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator John James Akpanudoedehe.


However, out of the three of them, one man that is giving Akpabio sleepless nights is

Akpanudodehe, his estranged political ally. Though the governor, perhaps due to pride, has

not admitted it openly that he has an incurable phobia for Akpanudoedehe, many believe that

Akpabio’s is afraid of him.


The former FCT junior minister, it is not yet forgotten, was Akpabio’s campaign manager in

the last electioneering campaigns but today he could be described as the governor’s

‘Achilles’ heel’. He wants Akpabio’s job and he is not making any pretences about his deep

animosity for the present administration under his former principal.


Akpanudodehe, who had since declared his intention to run for the governorship, few weeks

ago, stormed the city of Uyo , the Akwa Ibom State capital, with thousands of his supporters

to officially open his campaign office at Udotung Ubo Street, Uyo. The long train of

supporters which accompanied him round major streets of Uyo no doubt rattled the present

administration.


According to his political associates, the former minister is a very daring, fearless and

unrelenting person whose penchant for die-hard politics is unrivalled. These attributes of

his recently played out dramatically at the funeral of a foremost traditional ruler, the

late Usonyin Okon Ekpo Ekpo, the Okuibom Ibibio and paramount ruler of Ibesikpo Asutan Local

Government Area.


Akpanudodehe, not minding the presence of Akpabio and other top government functionaries at

the burial ceremony, ended his condolence message by referring to himself ‘Governor of Akwa

Ibom State in 2011’. Akpabio was highly embarrassed and infuriated by the former minister’s

bare-faced effrontery. But for the quick intervention of eminent traditional and political

leaders, who were at the event, the governor had made moves to dispatch from the venue of

the ceremony.


There are speculations that he may even soon dump the PDP for another political platform in

order for him to realise his governorship ambition. Already some politicians in the

opposition camp are luring him with the governorship ticket.


Recently, the state Chairman of the PDP, Mr. Bassey Eshiet, disclosed that there are ongoing

talks by the opposition for Akpanudoedehe to be given the governorship ticket. According to

Eshiet, the opposition parties discussing the possibility of merger party have agreed to

field a formidable candidate that would match Akpabio money for money and power for power,

adding that they have found the former FCT Minister as that person.


Again, it is strongly believed that former governor Attah is solidly in support of his

gubernatorial ambition. This could be evidenced by the support Akpanudodehe gave and is

still giving the former governor in the fight to change the present PDP exco in the state

under the leadership of Mr. Uwem Ita Etuk. Also recently, during the burial of a former

state PDP Chairman, Chief Tony Emenyi in Oron Local Government Area of the state, youths of

the area carried placards which said: “We Say No to Attah and Akpanudodehe”.


Another politician who is anxious to see Akpabio’s back in 2011 is Ewang. He tried in 2003

to be governor but failed. Again in 2007, he contested against the incumbent on the platform

of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) but lost. As 2011 approaches, he has again come out

to challenge the governor at the polls.


Ewang boasted in an interview with the Nigerian Compass that Akpabio would hand over to him

in 2011 whether he (Akpabio) or anybody believes it or not. An advocate of the merger party

structure, the former MILAD, who is yet to inform his party, the ANPP, of his intention to

contest the 2011 governorship elections, said Akpabio’s power of incumbency and the enormous

resources at his disposal would not work for him in next year’s polls.


According to him, his desire to clinch the governorship from Akpabio is informed by the

alleged maladministration by the PDP government in the state as evidenced in the high level

of insecurity of lives and property, youth unemployment, lack of political will to revive

ailing industries, poverty and misdirected application of state funds to projects of less or

no importance to the socio-economic fortunes of the state. He is quick to assure that if

voted into power he would change the old order and bring respite to the people.


Also, Udonwa, a relatively unknown political figure in the state, Udonwa had, last month,

set up his campaign office at 2, Wellington Bassey Way , Uyo, and the road that leads to the

Government House. Many who know him describe him as a man with a very deep pocket.


Despite Udonwa’s ‘deep pocket’, several political schools of thought have dismissed him as a

political neophyte who should not be given a second thought by Akpabio. Their argument is

that he is not resident in the state and as such does not have any political structure.


Again and most importantly too, he does not belong to any known political party. There are

speculations, however, that he may finally pitch his tent with the Action Congress (AC). But

even if AC gives him the ticket what difference would he make? The AC in the state is weak

and does not have the capacity to pose a threat to the PDP government in the state let alone

make any significant impact in the 2011 elections.


The writing on the wall also indicates that even if he decides to join the PDP, he would

definitely not get a ticket to run for the governorship because the ticket has already been

given to the incumbent.
It is against this background that the first indigenous military admi

nistrator of the state and strong supporter of the Akpabio’s administration, Air Commodore

Idongesit Nkanga, concluded that those aspiring to take over power from the governor were

only embarking on unprofitable ventures.


His words, “We have told the people that this is the best thing for us as a people. We have

never said that nobody should come and contest. It is just that it is unprofitable for them

so that is what we are saying. Nobody stops them. I mean in a democracy we expect many

people to be on the ballot paper; let them come; nobody says they shouldn’t come but the

Ibibios have taken their decision. They have made it public. Anybody that does otherwise,

that is his headache. We would not stop anybody from contesting”.


But despite the series of endorsements from various socio-political groups and several

assurances from powerful political figures in the state, Akpabio himself appears to be

jittery.


The reason for the governor’s seeming fright is linked to rumours making the rounds that the

Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan may soon name Attah as one of his senior aides.

Akpabio, it is also rumoured, is not in the good books of the Acting President and so it is

anticipated that when Attah, who is his arch enemy finally makes Jonathan’s list of

appointees he would use his position to ensure that he puts spanner in the works of the

governor’s second term ambition.


As if he is acting out his fears, the Akpabio has given instructions to his aides to stop

granting press interviews. A source disclosed that the move is aimed at checkmating

utterances of government officials who may out of overzealousness say things that may worsen

the already strained relationship between him and his predecessor.


As part of strategies to secure his second term ambition, the governor at the weekend held

an important meeting with top Ibibio political leaders. According to those close to the

meeting which held at Asan Ibibio, the Ibibio traditional meeting point, the discussion at

the meeting centered on the need for the Ibibio to support the Annang to go back for second

term in office. The Governor, according to the source, had appealed during the meeting for

the cooperation of Ibibio leaders to convince their kinsmen to vote for Akpabio in 2011.


Despite Akpabio’s strategic moves for retain the governorship seat in 2011, will the forces

against him allow him? Will he mend fences with his former boss whom the Ibibios respect so

much? If he doesn’t, would he scale the high walls of political intrigues all by himself as

2011 beckons? All eyes are watching but sure Akwa Ibom State is sitting on a political time

bomb waiting to be detonated in 2011.

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