Akwa Ibom: Udom Helpless as Wike Dims Udoedehe’s 2023 Governorship Ambition

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has dimmed the 2023 gubernatorial bid of the National Secretary of All Progressives Congress’ (APC) Caretaker Committee, John James Akpan Udoedehe, in Akwa Ibom State.

But, Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom appears to be helpless at the moment.

Udoedehe courted Wike’s trouble when in a seeming unguarded outburst declared that the Rivers governor was playing to the gallery, and economical with the truth about the security situation in the country.

For the APC chief, the Buhari administration has been fighting insecurity and doling out bail-out funds to all the 36 governors including Wike.

Udoedehe was however, born on November 9, 1963 in Afaha Offot, Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom. He studied at Holy Trinity College, Mbiakong, in Uruan Local Government Area (1975–1979), and in 1990 was admitted to the University of Uyo, where he studied Sociology/Anthropology. Later he studied for an M.Sc in Sociology of Development at the University of Calabar, graduating in 2006.

He started work in 1980 as Sales Manager/Personal Assistant to the Chairman of Dajucom Nigeria. He became Managing Director/Executive Chairman of John Silver Nigeria Limited in 1987.

He was elected Chairman of Uyo Local Government before being elected to the Senate in 1999. His administration was probed by the Akwa Ibom Military Administrator, the then Navy Captain Joseph Adeusi. In 1997, he won election as Senator for Uyo during a failed attempt to return Nigeria to democracy under the General Sani Abacha military dictatorship.

In 1999, he again ran for the same senate seat on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) platform, and was elected. He held office until May 2003. He was appointed to committees on Industry, Labour, Finance & Appropriation, Internal Affairs, Information, Privatisation (chairman) and Government Affairs.

Udoedehe was Vice Chairman of the Campaign Organisation for re-election of Obong Victor Attah as governor of Akwa Ibom in 2003. He was also the Chairman of Godswill Akpabio ‘s governorship campaign outfit in 2006/2007. He was appointed Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua on July 26, 2007. His Senate screening managed to pass despite opposition from party leaders in his state. He was relieved of his position on October 29, 2008 in a major cabinet shake-up.

In 2010, he started a campaign to become the 2011 PDP governorship candidate. The Akwa Ibom Democratic Voice, a group led by Annang people loyal to former Governor Akpabio, currently the Niger Delta Affairs Minister, tried to prevent his political campaign in the Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District, pulling down his posters.

In June 2010, former Governor Attah endorsed Udoedehe as candidate, saying Akwa Ibom had become a failed state under Akpabio’s administration. In 2015 Udoedehe re-ran for a gubernatorial ticket on APC platform but was defeated in primaries by Obong Umana Okon Umana. After another defeat in 2018 at primaries, in March 2020 Udoedehe, was issued an appointment as a board member of Nigeria Ports Authority.

Taking on the serial governorship aspirant, Governor Wike says,”bail-out money is not free money. We are paying back the money. But even if they gave us free money, does it mean that if anything is going wrong, I shouldn’t talk?

“We agree that there’s a problem in the country. Even the governors agreed that they are faced with security challenges. Yes, you’re overwhelmed with security challenges but whose responsibility is it to fix the security in this country.

“The National Secretary of APC has been a life time governorship aspirant. He has no character. Yesterday, he was with Bola Tinubu. Today, he is with Transportation Minister (Chibuike Amaechi) because he wants to be governor.

“Such characters cannot talk to people like us because we have character. A man without character does not have what it takes. I cannot jump from one place to another simply because you want to be governor by all means.

“Ask him, where he voted in 2019. He voted for PDP. Let him keep his mouth shut before I will tell APC what he did. People like that shouldn’t talk to us.”

Before now, at an interactive session with journalists in the state, helpless Governor Udom said he has no intention of imposing a surrogate governor on Akwa Ibom, insisting, ‘’I have no plans to rule for a third term through a stooge. Producing a successor is not on my agenda.

“As soon as I leave as governor, I will not rule for a third term through a stooge, I will leave with my i-phone and laptop. So people should be patient and God alone will produce the next governor for the state.

“Let’s think about the next generation and forget about Udom Emmanuel. Once you write and send one investor away because you don’t like the face of the governor, it will take the next governor 20 times more effort to convince and bring back that investor.’’

Interestingly, there is a subsisting gentleman agreement in the state in which the governorship position rotates among the three senatorial districts: Ikot Ekpene, Uyo, and Eket, which has unwittingly been adopted by the major political parties in the state.

Governor Udom who is from Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District (Eket) took over from former governor Akpabio, who hails from Akwa Ibom North-East Senatorial District (Ikot Ekpene).

Going by the rotation deal, the next governor is expected to come from Akwa Ibom North-West Senatorial District (Uyo) which produced former Governor Attah between 1999 and 2007.

Udom has been under pressure by governorship aspirants from his party, PDP, for endorsement.

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