Now that zoning has been reaffirmed, is this the end of the road for Bassey Albert?
Politics is a very interesting game; a game full of intrigues, suspense, and wit. Today the odds may be in your favour and the next minute things may turn against you. In Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District popularly known as Uyo Senatorial District, the game gets more interesting as days roll by.
Recent developments in the political sphere as well as the stance of key political elements expressed recently have reechoed a major concern amongst political observers and elicited an unavoidable question as follows: “now that zoning has been reaffirmed by the Peoples Democratic Party, will Senator Bassey Albert get a second term ticket?”
Recently, the state caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party held a strategic meeting in the banquet hall of the Government House in Uyo. Arising from that meeting, a communiqué which contained the resolutions of the party was read on behalf of the caucus by the state Chairman, Obong Paul Ekpo.
It is pertinent to note that amongst decisions taken; the party reaffirmed her belief and need to strictly enforce the zoning/rotation principle on all elective positions and directed all the organs and leadership of the party to implement it fully in all constituencies. Some days after, the Akwa Ibom State Governor, His Excellency Deacon Udom Emmanuel while addressing party faithfuls at the state party secretariat along Edet Akpan Avenue in the state capital, assured party faithfuls that as a beneficiary of zoning, he will stand by the zoning principle of the party and urged them to adhere to it. He also refuted claims of endorsement and stated that he has not endorsed anyone for any position in the forthcoming 2019 elections.
These developments have brought a new twist to the second term agenda of Obong Bassey Albert; an ambition yet to be officially declared by the Senator but highly spoken of by his supporters, friends and political allies. As a matter of fact, OBA as the distinguished Senator Bassey Albert is fondly called, is said to be interested in aspiring for a second term in office. This is not strange. However, the disturbing aspect of OBA’s second term ambition is the argument for and against zoning.
A particular school of thought posits that Uyo Senatorial District’s zoning arrangement does not favour OBA’s return to the Senate. This position was aptly captured by Abasifreke Effiong in his recent article titled “OBA’s second term: what does the deal offer?” He argued that “from time, the Uyo senatorial seat has been revolving equitably round the three federal constituencies. The first round started with George Daniel, from Nsit Atai (Uyo federal constituency); then, Ime Ikpatt, from Nsit Ibom (Etinan federal constituency) and Anietie Okon, from Itu (Itu/Ibiono Ibom federal constituency).
The second round started with John James Udoedehe from Uyo (Uyo federal constituency); succeeded by Effiong Bob (Etinan federal constituency); then Ita Enang and Bassey Albert, both from Ibiono Ibom (Itu/Ibiono Ibom federal constituency). Note that in the second round, Etinan and Itu/Ibiono Ibom federal constituencies have taken two terms each; Uyo has taken one term. Contemplating a return ticket for OBA seeks to give Itu/Ibiono three terms.”
What this means is that Itu/Ibiono Federal Constituency which OBA hails from had its turn in the Senate through Senator Ita Enang who did a 4-year term from 2011-2015.
According to this position, OBA is therefore completing the remaining 4-years allotted to his Federal Constituency and should pave way for Uyo Federal Constituency whose turn it is to produce a Senator representing the senatorial district in the National Assembly as other Federal Constituencies have each taken their turns. Prince Uwem Ita Etuk, a towering political figure in the Senatorial District is a major proponent of this argument.
Is this position coupled with the party’s recent reaffirmation of zoning capable of thwarting OBA’S second term aspiration? This is a major concern to political observers and key players especially as it has to do with the Eteka as he is also fondly called. You see, Obong Bassey Albert is widely loved within his Senatorial District and beyond but despised a bit. Critics say he is arrogant while his supporters say his confidence is mistaken as pride.
Critics lament that he has not done enough to deserve a second term in the hallowed chambers. They say he has not been able to lead legislative discourse and make critical arguments as his predecessor, Senator Ita Enang used to. His supporters argue that he has surpassed the record of his predecessors both inside and outside the Red Chambers. They say his philanthropy knows no bounds.
While the State Party Chairman read the communiqué at the end of the state caucus meeting, an observer noticed that Obong Bassey Albert maintained a calm mien as the issue of zoning was mentioned. Does this mean that the Ibiono Ibom political gladiator is unperturbed by these issues? His enthusiasts posit that OBA possesses a well-structured political machinery capable of overcoming whatever challenges he faces and describes him as a man who knows how to get what he wants.
As a matter of fact, it is said that OBA boasts of a huge financial war chest which he intends to deploy strategically in order to overcome the zoning/second term brouhaha. Given the influence of money in the Nigerian politics, this writer is not surprised as this may go a long way for him.
Already, Senator Bassey Albert seems to be making strategic progress. It is said that last December, some notable Elders of the party across the Senatorial District mainly from Etinan Federal Constituency endorsed him for second term. This purported endorsement was said to have been contained in a communiqué assented to by the Elders and read on their behalf by the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Onofiok Luke.
In the light of recent developments, will this endorsement hold water or will the endorsers rescind on their decision? Who laughs the last laugh in 2019? OBA or zoning? Time will tell.
By Comrade Ubon Marcus,
January 28, 2018.
(Ubon Marcus is a public affairs analyst)