LG Election: Ntufam Udoiyak leads campaign against Governor’s directive in Ikot Ekpene

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Ikot Ekpene

Ahead of LG election, some disgruntled political stalwarts in Ikot Ekpene, led by Ntufam Elijha Udoiyak, have sworn to fight the directive given to stakeholders on zoning by Governor Umo Eno, the state leader of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the local government elections.

Ikot Ekpene has 47 villages, organized into 12 wards controlled by two clans namely Urban, which is a majority (7½ wards) and Amayam (4½ wards) the minority. The seat of chairmanship is rotated among these two since democracy returned in 1999.

Incidentally, the current occupier of that seat, Sir John Cleton, is from Urban hence should vacate for a successor from Amayam. But, rather than leave office, Cleton has forged an alliance with Udoiyak and some of his brothers from Urban with plans to scuttle the zoning arrangement.

During a meeting held in the residence of Ntufam Udoiyak in Uruk Uso, days after the declaration by Governor Umo Eno, the transition chairman, Sir John Cleton, declared his intention to return as elected chairman of Ikot Ekpene and pledged a whopping seventy million Naira (N70, 000, 000) for the campaign.

Cleton, appealed to those gathered for support and promised to pay two million Naira (N2, 000, 000) monthly to each stakeholder that will mobilize to keep him in power.

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Earlier in his opening remarks, Ntufam Udoiyak told the gathering to ignore the directive from Governor Umo Eno.

He was quoted as saying “such directive does not apply to Ikot Ekpene”, and reassured the current Transition Chairman, Sir John Cleton, of his return as executive chairman.

He also pledged to lead negotiations with other key stakeholders in Ikot Ekpene especially those from Amayam to convince them to set aside zoning as the council area has perculiar needs which the state chief executive does not understand and should hands off.

Our source revealed that at the said meeting, Udoiyak claimed that in 2011, the zoning arrangement was altered to accommodate Mrs. Gloria Useh, who hails from Amanyam to complete two terms as such by his political calculation, power must be retained by Urban, even after the 2 terms has been completed by Hon. Unyime Etim

Also, he claimed that Urban is left without tangible political positions, an act considered as ingratitude to the Governor who has appointed him SSA, and more than 10 others from Urban Clan against Amayam currently occupying the State House of Assembly, in person of Hon. Jerry Otu, and Commissionership in person of Eld. Aniefiok Nkom and Senior Special Assistant to the Governor in person of Hon. Solomon Essiet.

He boasted that if all measures to retain the chairmanship fails, other political parties are available because if it goes to open contest, Urban with overwhelming majority can win anyday.

However, there are moves to checkmate Ntufam Udoiyak, John Cleton and their fellow journeymen. Notable stakeholders in Ikot Ekpene including Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien and Engr. Etido Inyang have reacted to the said meeting, condemning in strong terms this misadventure, describing it is an exercise in futility and direct confrontation against the governor, and injustice to the sister Clan.

Sen. Ibok Essien reportedly distanced himself “from any action that will bring chaos, enmity and go against Governor Umo Eno, who is the leader of our party and means well for Ikot Ekpene and the generality of Akwa Ibom state”.

Meanwhile, findings show the House of Assembly seat is between two LGAs (Ikot Ekpene and Obot Akara) as such is not part of the micro zoning formula existing within Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area. Also, political appointments are at the discretion of the governor therefore not included in zoning of elected political offices.

A PDP stalwart in the area, who spoke to our investigators off record, affirmed this fact adding that political offices used for zoning include Chapter Chairmanship position of the party and Executive Chairmanship of the local government area but not State House of Assembly seat since it is shared between Ikot Ekpene and Obot Akara just as the seat of Federal House is shared among three local government areas namely Ikot Ekpene, Essien Udim and Obot Akara.

” The Chairmanship position is what falls under microzoning in Ikot Ekpene and is rotated between Urban and Amayam.

“Stakeholders, right from the onset of this political dispensation as far back as 1999/2000 had greed that when the Chapter Chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party is zoned to a particular Clan, the Council Chairman should be zoned to another clan for only a tenure of three years to enhance equity, justice and peaceful coexistence among brothers.

However, in 2011 because Chief Sunny Ibanga, the then Chapter Chairman of PDP in Ikot Ekpene, insisted on vying for second term, they (in Urban) tried and succeeded in justifying that the State House was in Amayam. Since them, they have always used every means to alter the zoning arrangement to serve their purpose”, he revealed.

Attempts to get Ntufam Elijah Udoiyak to comment on these allegations were unsuccessful and his mobile phone was unavailable as at the time of filing this report. Also, Sir John Cleton busied his calls and did not reply to messages sent to his mobile phone.

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