Paul Ekpo Ready To Lead A’Ibom PDP To Victory
OBONG Paul Ekpo is an experienced administrator, a leader of men who has given himself a big task in Akwa Ibom State, namely, to win all the elections for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). As chairman of the ruling party in the state, Ekpo is determined to prove James George Janos, better known by his stage name, Jesse Ventura, wrong. Unlike Ventura, he firmly believes that political parties, in particular, the PDP in Akwa Ibom State, are veritable platforms for development, for delivery of democracy dividends to the people and are, therefore, the solution not the problem of the system.
Ventura, an Independent and former professional wrestler who served as the 38th Governor of Minnesota from 1999 to 2003, does not like political parties because he thinks they are the problem rather than the solution. He once said of the two main political parties in the United States: “I will not be a Democrat or a Republican. They are the problem, not the solution. We need to abolish political parties in this country”.
To be fair to Ventura, this is a feeling many people sometimes get about political parties. Or, who hasn’t it once or twice felt that the two parties in Nigeria, the PDP and the APC, rather than mitigate the nation’s political problems, tend really, to aggravate them through the aggressive and oft-violent ways they seek power and privileges? However, Ekpo finds a worthy ally in David Alan Mamet, an American playwright and essayist, who posits that “the Founders (of the American system) recognized that government is quite literally a necessary evil, that there must be opposition, between its various branches, and between political parties, for these are the only ways to temper the individual’s greed for power and the electorates’ desires for peace by submission to coercion or blandishment.”
In other words, political parties as organized groups of people with similar political aims and opinions, seeking to influence public policy by getting their candidates elected to public office, are necessary to moderate the competition for power that inevitably arises between groups or even within groups, for the control of society. In that case, the question then becomes, not whether political parties should be but how they ought to be.
Like America, Nigeria has two main political parties, the PDP and APC. The PDP has been the ruling party at the centre and in most of the states in the past 16 years. The fortunes of its state chapters have changed over the same period too, with the degree of such changes differing from state to state. For instance, in Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Ogun, Edo and Ekiti States, it lost power to the opposition APC formerly AC but has regained power in Ekiti. It also lost power to APGA in Imo State. But, in places like Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Ebonyi, Niger, Jigawa, Bayelsa, Delta, Benue States, among others, PDP has remained the party to beat since the inception of this democratic dispensation.
Among the state chapters, Akwa Ibom is easily the strongest. This is evident in the outstanding performance of the state governor and leader of the party in the state, Obong Godswill Akpabio, whose development programme as governor is essentially anchored on PDP manifesto. The party has even become stronger in the state since the emergence of Obong Ekpo as the state party chairman in October last year.
On October 8 last year, the Integration Committee of the party, which met with Akwa Ibom stakeholders in Abuja, confirmed Ekpo as the authentic chairman of the PDP. In a meeting attended by representatives of various interest groups in the state at the Legacy House, Abuja, at the instance of the Integration Committee, Ekpo got the official nod to chair the party in Akwa Ibom thereby bringing to an end the intrigues and bad blood that had dogged his election in a transparent process earlier carried out in Uyo.
In attendance at the reconciliation meeting were former Governor Obong Victor Attah, Deputy Governor Lady Valerie Ebe, Obong Bassey Albert (OBA), Obong Umana O. Umana, Obong Nsima Ekere, BOT members Atuekong Don Etiebet, Senator Ibokessien, Senator Effiong Bob, Senator Ita Enang, Senator Helen Esuene, Prince Uwem Ita Etuk and a member of the National Caucus, Distinguished Senator Anietie Okon. Also in attendance were Hon. Nse Ekpenyong, Barr. Ibanga Akpabio and a number of other state PDP stakeholders.
At the meeting, Ekpo presented a video CD of the State Congress to prove that he was legally and legitimately elected as Chairman of the authentic Akwa Ibom PDP executive committee. Ekpo’s methodical effort to establish the validity of his election won him the sympathy and approval of many of the stakeholders.
In his speech, a triumphant Ekpo promised to lead the state PDP aright, to put it on a sound footing so it could continue to drive the uncommon transformation, which has been going on in Akwa Ibom State in the past eight years under Chief Godswill Akpabio, a party loyalist to the core. He also pledged to ensure that the next dispensation in the state continues from where Akpabio will stop.
“I will lead the Akwa Ibom PDP and ensure total success for the party based on the uncommon transformation strides of Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio, which has put Akwa Ibom PDP in final triumph over the opposition,” Ekpo declared.
Thereafter, Obong Ekpo was officially recognized as the authentic chairman of the Akwa Ibom PDP by the Chairman of the Integration Committee, Senator Iya Abubakar. An elated Abubakar commended the people of the state for their maturity in handling the brief crisis and asked all to join hands with Chief Akpabio to make PDP win all the elections both in the state and at the centre this February.